Monday, October 8, 2007

Pep Rallies, Pope Reagan the Jedi Master & Soulja Boy

Students filled the halls in Spiderman, Superman and other comic book hero costumes. Pretty standard fare. It’s Friday in Texas (where we take our high school football games seriously), Pep Rally Day and, as with all Friday Spirit Days, we had a theme, and this one was, obviously, Super Heroes.

Andy (of the weekend old pizza fame) dressed himself as Pope Reagan the Jedi Master wearing a Pope hat fashioned out of construction paper that he just happened to have in the backseat of his car (makes you wonder about the boy, doesn’t it?), a Ronald Reagan face he ripped from Wikipedia and a black robe (which he pointed out wasn’t exactly a real Jedi robe, but would suffice in a pinch). And, of course, what ensemble wouldn’t be complete, I ask you, without an official Star Wars light saber? Yep, he had one of those too.

The entertainment editor who was accompanying Pope Reagan the Jedi Master just shook her head and said, “Don’t ask. Please don’t ask. You don’t want to know.”

And my editor, well, she just giggled and said, “Don’t ya just feel a blog coming on?”

Looking at the Pope Reagan the Jedi Master Super Hero creation just illustrates a point I’ve known all along…We certainly can produce creative thinkers and not squelch independent thinking in public schools.

Later that afternoon at the pep rally, the kids performed a skit and dance to “Crank Dat” by Soulja Boy…a catchy little ditty and dance. I marveled at all those Super Heroes dancing in perfect synchronization on the gym floor.

“Why didn’t I know about this?” I shouted to my Spanish teacher friend above the blaring music. “Wouldn’t it be fun to do this?”

She just rolled her eyes and sighed.

But even her less-than-tepid response couldn’t dampen my new-found enthusiasm. After a little googling here and a little googling there, I discovered an instructional video on YouTube on how to do the dance. (Shows you just how far I've ventured from the Coolness Loop.)

Confession #1: I added myself to the more than 9 million hits for the instructional dance video.

Confession #2: “My name is Richie and I'm a terminally old geek…” Yes, I admit it. I tried the dance at home and it wasn’t pretty. In fact, my daughter, I think, used the term “disturbing.” (She never lets me have any fun.)

There’s even a clever little Sponge Bob version with more than 8 million hits and the Barney version with more than 4 million hits. Can you believe even the purple dinosaur can dance the dance? I was crushed–even a fat dinosaur is cooler than me.

Confession #3: Not only did I watch the videos, but shhhhhhhh, don’t tell anyone, I, ah, well I ah, rapped it. (Ok, so I tried to rap it as much as any old white woman can rap… “watch me crank it, watch me roll, watch me crank dat….” Ok, ok, so maybe, just maybe that’s an image you don’t want.)

This morning, when I was a bit morose about the whole I-am-so-out-of-the-Coolness-Loop as well as the I-feel-like-dancing-but-don’t-know-how-to-anymore syndrome, the Dallas Morning News had a story about Soulja Boy and “Crank Dat.” He talks about the clever videos his fans have made and notes that it takes a lot of time and effort to edit a video to make it look like Sponge Bob is saying the words to the song.

Soulja Boy who is 17 also said something about still dreaming of becoming a computer animator. Image that, him with his gajillion bucks for a dance I can’t dance and a song I can’t rap (or understand for that matter), still has a dream of being a computer animator.

All of that got me thinking (never a good thing) about those YouTube videos. And then, of course, I got to wondering just how old those creators are who made those videos. And then naturally I got to wondering if they were like Pizza Andy–creative, independent products of our public school system or whether they were mere anomalies–self-taught products of a media saturated society?

And while I pondered the educational value of all of that, my daughter informed me she learned how to spell bananas from Gwen Stefani (you know, “Hollaback Girl”… And no, I’m not going to sing it to you.)

Bananas? B-a-n-a-n-a-s…

I’ll let you decide what that says about public education because the whole thing quite frankly just makes my head explode.


Unknown said...

It's fine to learn spelling from pop music as long as the source is reliable. But in "Fergalicious," the word "tasty" is spelled with an "e." (As in: "To the 'T, ' to the 'A,' to the 'S'-'T'-'E'-'Y.'")Fergie says the mispelling was intentional . . . but even if she's telling the truth, that's just sad.
I think quality public education, and the encouragement of independent creativity within school walls, is more effective at producing innovative thinkers than media saturation can ever be. (But YouTube is still awesome.)

Anonymous said...

Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.

askthehomediva said...

Both comments are excellent observations. Christina, I'm glad that you too believe innovative thinkers can still be produced within the public school walls. And, of course, you're right about YouTube.

Father Ronaldus… You and Yoda are right. Sadly, too many people waste their time trying instead of doing.

Anonymous said...

It's 4:20 in the morning and I just woke my roomate up from laughing so hard at the visions of you doing the soulja boy! haha I'll never forget that!