With the burgeoning success of posting videos on Vine, Instagram, Facebook etc, it is likely that you have come across some kind of short video of teenage girls doing something ‘embarrassing’. Most likely you will see that these videos are accompanied by comments such as, “dumb sluts” / “would like to see them try that in ma house” / “kids these days are so effing dumb and disrespectful” / “the world is doomed” / “fuck this generation”. And so on in all varying forms.
Generally, no matter the behaviour of the teenage girl in the video, I am more inclined to think the people commenting are the disrespectful meanies (with a big splash of ‘were you ever young?’). The videos I’m talking about are the ones where a young women do some kind of booty-shaking dance / choreographed moves or sing-a-long. They have obviously spent a bit of time that day learning their moves and practicing them.
Then of course, comes the filming of the dance and posting it online.
Cue: hateful comments. This is the part where I shake my head in disbelief. Do I think that thirteen year-olds should be posting booty-shaking moves online for the world to see? Not really, no. Do I think people need to realise that girls have been learning dance moves together since possibly the beginning of music? Yes. The only difference is that girls post themselves doing the dances now.
Every time there is one of these videos I am more baffled by how people seem to think these are habits undertaken only by today’s generation when really, young girls have danced together at sleepovers to the music of the day for a long time. Surely this isn’t new information? I remember attempting to learn one particular dance from Center Stage with my friend when young. This was not the only time. I was not good at dancing. Boy-oh-boy did I think I was. We thought we were doing awesome. I’m pretty certain we would have filmed it if we could – and then probably posted it if that was our world. There was one particular afternoon where a friend and I made our own film version of a real film with her parents video camera. We thought that shit was sweet. Was it? No. Ohhhh no. 1000 no’s, but we thought it was at the time and agreed it would probably online if we were 14 today.
People who jump immediately onto their high horses on facebook seem to forget that this is a normal part of being a teenager. It’s just that the normal behaviour has morphed into today’s social-media environment. For teenagers, posting videos and photos is normal because this is what they know. They are surrounded by social-media and have been from a younger, more impressionable age than adults of today who remember the days pre-internet.
Sexy dance moves? Some of them are, yes. Though I don’t remember if there were particularly sexy moves in Center Stage, you can bet your Betsy that if there was, we copied them. The thing about being a teenage girl is that you will often do sexy dance moves; in the school corridor, alone in your room, at parties. I promise I’m not just speaking from personal experience – this is what I remember from observing other teenager girls when I was one. The difference, again, is not the presence of sexy moves, it’s that the sexy moves are broadcast on the internet now. Should young women be doing something sexy on camera for the public to scrutinize? No. Should we expect all young women to refrain from being sexy online if the internet is part of their normal and nobody has educated them on why not instead of just calling them ‘whores’ when they do? No.
That’s all I’m saying; angry commentors and baffled adults who don’t seem to remember ever seeing any young ladies dancing learned moves or giving a bit of a booty-shake in the corridors at school, at a sleepover, in a film or a television show, at a dance or disco. The difference in this generation is not that girls dance, it’s that they post it online afterwards. (I also have an inkling they see why more bare butts on tv these days.) Is this a good thing? I can’t say for sure. Perhaps in the future they will cringe at their old postings and learn humility from them, perhaps the culture of dirty-moving tweens will further flourish. Either way, enough with the ‘back in my day we’d never dream of dancing this way’ comments. They’re clearly having no effect.