The dance form known as “The Dougie” is nothing short of a societal metaphor. How one feels about The Dougie says more about what one thinks about certain effects of a world under globalization than it does about dancing.
In the following brief analysis, I merely attempt to draw a few parallels between the dance and the advanced stages of the economic system we inhabit. I do not attempt to persuade you one way or the other. Whether you view The Dougie as the olive branch for the rhythmically retarded that makes coolness via sweet dance moves accessible to all, not just a niche demographic; or see it as a vile homogenization of dance culture and a vanilla flattening of the gifted smoothness of the hip hop community to appeal to helplessly and genetically off-tempo whites, is up to you.
In the name alone, controversy already emerges. The designation, The Dougie, alludes to the days and stylings of Doug E. Fresh, but nonetheless, an alternate theory regarding the origin of The Dougie is being perpetuated on the Internet which might suggest it would be better called The Carleton. Click For Alternate Theoretical Origin Video
The Dougie is by no means the first popular dance to appeal to droll aesthetics. This is practically the lifeblood of all wedding receptions. As a matter of fact, if not for playful mimicry of motions of manual labor and related machines and animals, there may be no dancing at all during a blindingly Caucasian wedding reception. It now extends beyond The Lawnmower, The Sprinkler, The Chicken Dance, et al. to where jocular dancing has even become a staple of the entire dancing community. Ever since it was first discovered that in the view of public opinion a silly dance could beat a skilled dance that took thousands of hours of practice, talent, and hard work. Click For Movie Clip Where Screwy Defeated Expertise.
In the past, when hip hop culture developed dancing moves, it was the case that, by definition, it was not something that you were going to accidentally do if you were a bad white dancer. That was sort of the whole point. Click To See Earlier Popular Dance Moves Generated Out Of Hip Hop Culture That Could Never Be Performed By Accident. This meant that hybrid or other dancers and dance groups and the like that were co-opting a more black dance style had to develop skill as a foundation. Click To See The Jabberwockeez. If the trend of The Dougie were to continue, it is conceivable that white people or others that claim to have no rhythm could potentially stumble upon all the hottest dance moves just by dancing in an out of control dorky fashion.
On an economic level, Free Trade claims to provide a greater exchange of goods and services by forbidding regulations and tariffs. Critics claim that the exchanges give much greater benefit to the already privileged party and increased access occurs independently of globalization, while proponents say that it creates new trade-exchanges that wouldn’t have been possible, thus furthering cultural exchanges and giving free access to all. At least one of these is occurring in Los Angeles, a world microcosm melting pot with constantly changing demographics. Leave it to LA to stir up a dance that borrows from several sub-cultures. It’s not by coincidence that The Dougie came out of a Los Angeles undergoing serious demographic shifts where many feel that the way things have been thought to be is in a state of flux. Case in point, the projects… Major hispanic infusion. Compton… Way more Hispanics than ever before. Hispanics take the place on the lowest part of the economic totem pole that blacks used to occupy, with Middle Easterners vying for the most hated position. For America, this is a change. As Dave Chappelle says, “At least I can set my backpack down without people screaming and tackling me.” Whether The Dougie was born out of LA black demographics now being newly entitled to higher status and more access to other cultures or whether it was born out of an imposing of outside cultures, depends on your perspective.
On the surface, The Dougie is little more than jerkin’ in some skinny jeans. Of course, skinny jeans are an important ingredient in all this. We live in a world of cool crusading for the nerd-ization of everything. In some ways it couldn’t develop any other way without other things changing. Hip-hop has to embrace skinny jeans. Under what Freud termed The Narcissism of Minor Differences, it seems that as individuals and groups we keep looking for little peculiar ways to differentiate ourselves from one another. No group has gotten more into making classifications about things that don’t matter than hipster white people with ironic glasses and skinny jeans. Through a subsection of hip hop trying to further distinguish itself from the rest of itself, even hip hop, which always prided itself as an independent organic spirit emerging from the ghetto, has essentially done their own variation on an imitation of a white hipster stereotype.
Access is what we hope our new world will give every group in fair amounts. Access to the best schools. Access to the best resources. There is a prevalent notion that the Internet will give everyone access to the world’s complete library of information. In some ways it is becoming true. Now a notion of a technological divide amongst classes and access to technology is viewed as the final frontier for equality and creating a level playing field where we can all participate in a fair economy together. Perhaps unfortunately, access is also much more tied into globalization than we’d like to admit.
Many famous black celebrities have cited their growing up with access to white people as a component in their success. The reason is pretty simple: If you’ve never been around a group of people before, you’re much more likely to fear them. When two people of similar backgrounds and similar talents and skills go up against one another in the business world, it often comes down to who is more comfortable with the guy writing the checks. Historically, there have been a lot of white guys writing checks, and so there are countless well-documented cases of the supposedly blackest success stories somehow obtaining surprising levels of access to white people, as in the case of Tupac at the Baltimore School for the Performing Arts.
However much we might wish to denounce the lack of economic parity that free trade forces across the globe, there is a deeper question that comes along with the spreading of culture in a globalization system. We have to ask ourselves what it is about a culture that has value before access is freely granted or we have to be fine with saying goodbye to the peculiarities that were developed by that particular culture.
Some of the things that will happen when you give cultural access you might not like. When nations in Africa were given access to more global communications, a surprising side-effect was that it also turned most of Africa into lovers of American culture. Elders inside of Africa now have to deal with the loss of their independent cultures and a western homogenization of their youth into a mono-culture that they can’t seem to stop.
I hope the reader will reflect on The Dougie as they think about how they would like to steer our global economic system. Is it just a mediocre popular dance or is it an infection into what was a unique culture at the forefront of American dance? With unprecedented access to white people in Los Angeles, did a group of people go too far and make the coolest thing in the hip-hop community essentially a parody of really goofy white shit? Is practicing it practicing to look like a goofball that can’t dance, even though you can? Or is it just fun and the natural progression of things? Is it giving access to everyone to be able to do a popular hip hop dance without requiring much practice, or is it a dumbing down of dance culture? How you answer these questions will tell everyone where you stand on the nuances of cultural westernization in our globalization environment.
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