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Guilty by association

July 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Just my thoughts on popping in general. Click here for more of my ramblings.

Reading some of SpaceCapital’s articles on 4dapoppers.com, I came across an interview with Robert Shields, the mime whose TV show in the seventies proved a huge influence on the robot style. Shields lamented the loss of respect for the art of mime. Just because a small set of mimes makes the field look bad, all mimes suffer from it. Especially the great ones.

I’ve thought about the mainstream backlash to popping and (to a lesser extent) bboying from the years 1988 to around 2000. I’ve read some articles from the OG poppers to gain some perspective, but didn’t receive an answer that satisfied my curiosity. The closest I came was Mr Wiggles answer that popping turned too commercial and watered down. That appeared true, but I found it a simplistic answer for something much more complex.

Trying to figure out what it was, I thought about why I didn’t pursue this dance earlier in my life. To speak frankly, I just didn’t know that popping and bboying were any good. I had this image of bboys doing windmills from 80s TV, and that was it, just a gimmicky form of athletics. I’ve seen people do the robot, and not once has anyone done it well enough to look anything more than a joke. More than anything, they reminded me of the worst kind of 80s kitsch.

And that may be the problem. It wasn’t until Tyson Eberly and Madd Chadd that I saw how cool the robot can look. Not until I saw the bboy compilations on Youtube did I realise that it’s more than just one windmill after another. Not until I saw the very best in the respective fields did I respect any of the streetdances.
People in the 90s didn’t have the chance to see the very best. They were flooded with sub-par examples of the dance. And once people make the judgement that a dance is intrinsically bad, it’s very difficult to change their minds. There’s a particular backlash against something that becomes very popular but fades just as quickly. People see it as a fad instead of a real art form.

Even the great streetdance productions of the 80s were of low quality. Movies such as the Breakin’ series are a good example. They featured the most skilled and creative dancers in locking, popping, and bboying. Some moments have ingrained themselves in popular culture.

Yet they were rushed productions, and some parts are painful to watch nowadays. The sequel received particularly bad attention, and the term electric boogaloo itself has turned into an internet joke meme for unnecessary sequels (e.g. Speed 2: Electric Boogaloo). If the most influential films for streetdance reminds you of of the worst kind of 80s kitsch, then you can forget about mainstream accepting streetdance as a legitimate art form.

Perhaps it took some time for people to forget the association with the 80s. A new generation had time to rediscover the dance for themselves. The main advantage today is that anyone can access footage of the great at any time. You can bypass all of those that give the dance a bad name, and see the very best. You just have to look for it.

Categories: Ramblings

You can love me as much as you want – Receiving compliments

July 24, 2010 Leave a comment

These are just some personal thoughts that relate to the typical traits of performers and entertainers. Click here for all of my other ramblings.

Receiving compliments is a problem for many of us. Yet I’ve observed that it’s particularly the case with those people who crave positive attention more than others. This seems counter-intuitive. I knew a Japanese girl who cooked, drew, dance, and acted better then anybody else I ever met. Though you would believe that her talents would make her feel confident, she would constantly worry about how people perceived her. If you tried to actually give her a compliment, she’d deny, downplay, or rationalise the comment. I sometimes wondered whether it came from the Japanese culture of humility and modesty. Was it her perfectionism? Just general low-esteem?

Stand-up comedian and actor Kevin Pollack often speaks about this strange habit on his internet talk show. He observed that many entertainers, especially comedians, have the tendency to reject compliments, despite obsessively craving positive attention. One of his guests, stand-up comedian Chris Hardwick, gave a particularly damning opinion on this behaviour. A person tries to tell you how much he appreciates your work, and you take that moment away from them. It’s born out of a narcistic motive to draw further attention to yourself, even if you sacrifice the positive attention for more negative attention.


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This reminded me of German philosopher, Richard David Precht’ views on love. I used to think that only receiving love made you happy, but Precht pointed to the other part of the equation. Having someone to love is just as important for your happiness. In some cases, it is even more important then receiving love. Receiving and giving admiration is a form of love, so you can think of receiving compliments this way: It’s less important that you are receiving compliments. It means a lot more to the one giving the compliments. Even if you feel that the compliments are wrong or over-blown, try not to take away the moment for the person. It makes the other person feel bad, and you end up looking bad in the process. Say thank you and don’t argue with the person who thinks you’re great.

Another stand-up guest on Kevin Pollack’s chat show, Gregg Proops, said something similar about charismatic actors like Will Smith or Warren Beatty. These actors seemed to signal “It’s all okay now. I’m here now, and you can love me as much as you want.” I found that line fascinating, because I would have listed the fame, talent, or good looks of these actors, but Proops focused on the way they receive attention.


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I have met a few people that signal this kind of openness (it’s very rare), but the best example would be my aunt’s dog, who had more love to share then any other living thing I ever met. Imagine you come home from work, having fought all day with the demands of colleagues and coworker. Or you come home from school after having a big fight with one of your friends. Whatever happened to you that day, your dog is waiting for you, happy to see you, ready to be petted. Of course you feel good that someone is happy to see you (perhaps the first living thing to do so that day), the simplicity of the dog’s love could be more important. A dog’s love is unconditional. It comes to you, ready to be petted and cuddled. This rarely exists with people, who typically have difficult, even contradicting demands. If we do find a person with this open quality, then we seem to be drawn to them in an intense way.

Categories: Ramblings

Youtube and pornographic cooking shows

July 10, 2010 Leave a comment

These are just some personal thoughts that relate to the typical traits of performers and entertainers. Click here for all of my other ramblings.

Let me warn you of a behavior that may hold you back in your progress. It feeds on a human characteristic of dependence that we all have, to a certain extent. I like to call it the pornographic cooking show effect.

Let me explain. Most people who watch cooking shows don’t do it to learn new recipes. They watch them to have to a pleasant cooking experience without having to buy groceries, prepare the food, and wash dishes. Yes, they didn’t cook anything, they can’t eat the food, or even smell it, so it’s a weak substitute for the real thing. Nonetheless, people are willing to accept this because there’s no cost and no hassle. It’s the same principle with porno, a pale imitation of the real experience where you don’t take part in the activity (let’s not discuss details). Still, it’s instant gratification with no hassle, no demands from another living person, at nearly no cost. Billions of dollars each year in that industry attest to that principle (it is probably recession proof, for all I know).

Dance clips can have a similar effect, because they reduce your incentive to practice the dance yourself. With today’s wireless internet, Youtube, and the laptaop (or the iPad), you can watch the greatest battle events at any time, at any place. Instant gratification anywhere you are, no matter who you are, or what your own dancing skills are.

Yes, you weren’t there, and it wasn’t you who wowed everyone with your sick moves. But you didn’t need to practice the drills. On days where your energies are low and you’re flooded by self-doubt, you can watch the same clips on Popin’ Taco over and over again. This helps you feel better after not being quite able to execute those arm wave like you wanted to. Hell, on your laziest days, you can just imagine that you are Salah, and that it was you at at the final round of Juste Debout. They feed your fantasies, just like pornos do.

This wasn’t an option back in the 1970s/1980s (or even less than a decade ago to a large extent). If you didn’t dance and meet up with other dancers, then you had no other substitute for the experience. Hell, there were little options for entertainment in general (especially for the poor urban youth who invented popping and bboying). There simply was less chance of gratification of any kind without effort. This made you hungry, as Otis Funkmeyer told me in our interview. It spurned you to improve your skills, because you had to rely on yourself for gratification, not on technology.