Ordinary People

Yeah yeah, whatever100 “Single Ladies” in Picadilly Circus:

This is a mash-up to two 21st Century crazes, made possible by new technology. The first is the practice of making a tribute to a song you love, by lip-syncing to the track while parodying the video. Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies‘ is the current world leader in such pastiches. The second is the public Flash Mob (see Liverpool Street Station, or Antwerpen Centraal).  Combining the two phenomena would seem like an instant win, right?

Wrong.  Why?  Because both practices are entertaining because they are created by what we might call ‘normal’ people:  Volunteers, of all shapes, ages and sizes, not from central casting.  The Public.  The Users.  The People.  Meanwhile, the Single Ladies dancers in Picadilly Circus are an exclusive, homogenised clique of conventionally pretty people.  The overall effect lacks the surprise of the T-Mobile/Antwerp stunts, and the freedom we see in the home-made homages to Beyoncé.  It is less than the sum of its parts, and will never become part of digital folklore.

Update (30th April 2009)

According to Chris, there is going to be anopther flash mob tonight in Trafalgar Square.

3 thoughts on “Ordinary People”

  1. So…if I read you correctly, if a bunch of “ordinary” people did exactly the same thing, then it’d be fine? It’s not the mashup that’s wrong, but the exclusive homogenised execution of it?

  2. Pretty much. I’m struggling to express the precise ingredient that is missing, but it is more to do with the people doing the thing, than the thing that they are doing.

    Delight?

  3. Yes, partly. But also dignity, integrity, authenticity, humour.

    I blame cultural market-forces. Culture shouldn’t be a free market economy.

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