Teaching middle school has taught me at least two things about the thought process of children under 15: they believe they’re too old to be chastised by anyone but their parents (and in some cases, no one at all) and they have control over their own bodies. Part of that is developmental and evolutionary; we look to grow into ourselves, finding the rapid changes disturbing and replying by controlling the smaller parts that haven’t changed. Adolescence is scary, and not enough people know how to handle it delicately.
I do, however, have serious trouble looking at the above video and simply let that go. Many of you have seen this video and probably thought, “Why did this happen? Why do I feel strange about this? What makes this video so different from the other YouTube videos of gyration and bouncy baseline? The dancers are talented, surely, the uniforms look well done, and the replication of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” is also remarkable. The energy on the stage seemed as infectious for the audience as for the hundreds of viewers and commenters to this exhibition.
That’s the most interesting thing about infections. People who have infections often jump up in excitement, preoccupied with the curiosity of this infection, but it’s still an infection, in need of a cure. The central point of intrigue is that the video isn’t showing grown women well in control of their sexuality or their lives; it’s showing little girls imitating such women. It’s not only distressing, but also indicative of the values our society holds (or doesn’t) for our young girls and boys.
Pardon me in my conservatism here, but shouldn’t we teach children how to be children until they getting closer to adulthood? For many of our children growing up in hardship, we find their parents groom them into young men and women well before they’re ready, and it often leads to children thinking they’re too grown for reproach or critique in their daily lives. They learn the harshest parts of adulthood without understanding the emotional and the genteel. They curse without understanding who they’ve damned, and retaliate without feeling consequence. They kiss and they’re immediately told they’re no longer “single.”
Children shouldn’t have such the burden of anything above a friendship. That’s where the issues of relationships start.
Furthermore, we see a dose of the sexualization of little girls, whose dance moves and dress emulates full grown women, but they can’t handle such a responsibility. Do they understand what Beyonce means when she asks a suitor to put a ring on it? When she tells her former man, who after several years never asked for any real commitment from her, to go away? In what club will the young ladies in the video pretend to be besides the Boys and Girls Club? Do tea parties and jumping jacks no longer exist for little girls to entertain themselves? Will their parents, who clearly didn’t think these ramifications through, have to pack them a lunch before they get into the club?
Children under a certain age shouldn’t be allowed to bestow titles meant for grown-ups upon themselves. That’s a roll call too many of us can agree with.
Jose, who, according to Mr. McLeod, deserves a bigger audience. Clap for him.