In the 80’s movie Can’t Buy Me Love, Patrick Dempsey’s character pays a girl (a “cool” girl) to act like she’s his girlfriend for a short while, theorizing that it will make him popular, too. She’s cool, he’s with her, so he must be cool, too.
After a short period of adjustment, his plan works perfectly, and there’s a scene where some of the football players(who had previously made his life hell) ask him if he’s going to a dance. He wants to go, of course, but there’s a problem: he doesn’t know how to dance. So he tells his brother he needs to see American Bandstand, so he can see how people are dancing, and hopefully copy some of their moves. He turns the TV to what he thinks is Bandstand, to find a young, brightly dressed black couple dancing to an almost tribal sounding drumbeat. The music is strange, but it’s dancing, and after a perfunctory run-through of their moves, he feels he’s ready for the dance.
After he leaves, his brother sees that rather than American Bandstand, his brother had changed the channel to PBS, and what he’d actually seen was something called the “African Anteater Ritual.”
Cut to the dance, where after an interlude with one of the other “cool” girls, we see Patrick Dempsey’s character busting his moves on the dance floor. It looks pretty weird, but one of the characters says something like “if Ronnie’s doing it, it must be cool.” Soon, everyone at the dance is copying him, with the exception of Ronald’s nerdy friends on the sidelines, who recognize Ronald’s Dance for what it is.
Watching that scene now, it seems like a really good allegory for the lengths people will go to–especially young people–to be thought cool, or in the know. Popular. Whatever you want to call it.
Sometimes people will gladly be sheep.
I think of the influence the media has over people today, especially the coveted youth demographic. I think of how the Hollywood “lobby,” if there is such a thing, is more influential than common sense in a lot of cases.
I think of the Presidential election. I think of all the blind support for Barrack Obama. I think of the rampant ignorance of many of his supporters.
He speaks eloquently, it’s true. He tells people what they want to hear. He describes sweeping changes, with only the vaguest references to how these changes will be facilitated and paid for. His demeanor is captivating, eye-catching, and passion-stirring.
I think there’s been so many people wanting to learn how to dance for so long, they’ve been flipping channels in desperation, trying to find American Bandstand.
Especially Hollywood. These are people so empty of truth they are starving for it in the worst way. Someone comes along and says what they want to hear. Uses all the right buzzwords, and does it in their language. So they jump on his bandwagon, and begin speaking in the same language, even though in many cases, they don’t understand what it means, but boy does it sound pretty.
It really does.
Words like GREEN, and ALTERNATIVE ENERGY, and CHANGE become an even larger part of the vernacular.
The speaker is handsome, and smart, and knows how to work a crowd, and a room (provided his teleprompter is in good working order).
And man, his energy is catching. His moves look really, really good. And the famous people we all secretly want to be are doing them, too.
But in the end, I think the joke is on us. We elected someone based on his dance moves.
But he didn’t watch Bandstand to learn them. He watched PBS.
We’re doing the African Anteater Ritual.
I bet if you asked…oh, maybe half of the people who voted for our shiny new president why they voted for him, they couldn’t tell you about 3 of his policies, or how CHANGE would be implemented. They would tell you how the inaguration changed their life, and how the country would never be the same.
It’ll be different now.
Because things will change.
The troops will come home!
What will happen to the people they protect when their country is left a fledling democracy?
It’s not our affair! Darfur, now. That’s a worthy cause.
Darfur isn’t in America, either. Do you remember Somalia? Do you remember what happened to the country when Clinton pulled out our troops?
Death happened, and lots of it.
But things will be different, now. The President has a plan! He’ll fix the country.
What is it?
You have to give him time. Stuff doesn’t happen all at once.
Time for what? To flip channels, looking for better dance instruction?
Fish, or cut bait, man.
I’m just saying.