May 13, 2010

"We are not very judgmental people, generally, and probably these kids are having a blast dancing their scary little hearts out."

Gawker primed me to disapprove of this video with young girls dancing to "Single Ladies," but I thought they were just fine and even kind of great.
Isn't there a song that is not about, you know, marriage, that they could dance to?
Pro-marriage is a bad message for young girls? When did that happen? When I was a kid, in the 1950s, we played "house," in which you pretended to be a married woman. With children, of course. Adults loved to give us baby dolls to play with. Imagine that. It was all perfectly okay. As for the costumes the girls are wearing in that video — again, in the 1950s "dress up" was a perfectly conventional and encouraged form of play. When did that become wrong?

If you don't think girls should dance like Beyonce in "Single Ladies," you shouldn't let them see the video at all. When I was a kid, I learned to dance listening to "The Mexican Hat Dance." I think I'd be a lot better off or at least a lot better dancer if I could have learned how to dance from "Single Ladies."

65 comments:

Treacle said...

"I think I'd be a lot better off or at least a lot better dancer if I could have learned how to dance from "Single Ladies.""

I think we're ready for that jelly, Ann.

Meade said...

Oh, baby, but you know what it does to me when you dance your Mexican Hat Dance!

Geoff Matthews said...

Not familiar with the song or the original video, but the outfits were what troubled me. As these wee'uns grow older, they'll be pushing the limits of outfits and dress, and as it stands, that limit has been set very far.

As the great philosopher Chris Rock said, a father's duty to his daughter is to keep her off the pole. Setting strict standards on dress is part of this.

Meade said...

And, oh, btw, you can, of course, leave your Mexican hat on.

Paul Zrimsek said...

If you liked it then you should have put a sombrero on it.

GMay said...

They are really very good dancers, but there's something that creeps me out about parents who dress their kids up or encourage them to dress up like strippers.

Same thing with those creepy beauty pageants for girls of that age and younger.

No doubt one or more of those girls will grow up wondering why one or more boys/men view them as sex objects.

GMay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

I appreciate the hard work these girls have done to dance as well as they do.

I don't know why their parents agreed to those costumes, however, or the choreography.

k*thy said...

That’s some awesome talent, but…

Danceteam competitions are a strange beast. IMHO, it goes against what dance is. The competition and costuming can get pretty fierce. As for this piece, I don't have a problem with the song itself, but to compare, both Beyonce's dance routine and costumes (along Justin Timberlakes and ‘The wrinkled ladies’) were a hell of a lot less provocative than this. It could have been choreographed and costumed a lot more age appropriately – and still shown off the talent these girls have.

k*thy said...

MM - parent's have A LOT say in the costuming. They're paying for it.

paul a'barge said...

The girls were great dancers.

The outfits were definitely slut-city.

Paul Snively said...

I guess Gawker must really hate Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Scratch n' Sniff," then.

MamaM said...

Why and when is the sexualization of prepubescent girls ever a good idea?

danielle said...

wooooah !

i'm shocked, Ann, that you like this .

i dont think the girls are scary. But, there is no dancing child that I want to see doing stripper moves as they do in this video. in the single ladies video, beyonce is *not* doing stripper moves. some person coreographed this, and put in stripper moves for 12 year old girls.

Superdad said...

As for the costumes the girls are wearing in that video — again, in the 1950s "dress up" was a perfectly conventional and encouraged form of play. When did that become wrong?

Dress up is a fun game all three of my girls like to dress up - of course the rub is what you let them dress up as. This should be an obvious distinction. And it should also be obvious that it is not a good idea to dress little girls up like whores.

GMay said...

I've seen whores dressed less provacatively.

Kirstin said...

"When I was a kid, in the 1950s, we played 'house,' in which you pretended to be a married woman."

Yes, and married to a MAN, even.

danielle said...

taking this to the extreme, we get nonsense like this ....

geesh. that poor baby.

The Drill SGT said...

but I thought they were just fine and even kind of great.

I don'tnk shaking 7 Y/o booty is something we should encourage. What would you say if the Feds arrested somebody for having somewhat similiar?

The anti-kiddee porn folks demand 20 years sentences for the possession of footage not that much different.

MamaM said...

These girls look younger than 12. Gawker guesses them to be around seven. Which makes them children.

Would it be blast if they took off their bra tops as part of the dance? What harm could there be in that as long as they were having fun and there were no breasts to be seen?

Expat(ish) said...

Someone, probably one of my wife's uber-liberal Canadian relatives, gave my then-9 year old daughter a pair of shorts with "CUTE" written on the tushal area. My disapproval was evident.

Being a Faulkner trained southern boy, I just waited until they were in the wash and disappeared them.

Next month my daughter turns 12 and gets her ears pierced.

I'm with Ann (unusual as that is) - they are your children, you control their behavior to an amazing extent.

I'll go farther: "because I said so" is an excellent reason for a child to do (or not do) something.

-XC

Joe said...

I found the video too creepy to watch after twenty seconds.

It was more than the costumes; the overt faux sexuality was very disturbing.

MamaM said...

What they are doing might look like harmless fun but it's not. Children are not sexually available for adult use, not matter how enthused or interested they appear to be. To allow them to act as if they are ready, willing, able to take part in adult sexual activity is wrong and irresponsible.

pduggie said...

agreed about the "playing house" comment.

But...

"For when Herodias's daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.” And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom.” And she went out and said to her mother, “For what should I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptist.”"

MadisonMan said...

because I said so

I didn't ask if you wanted to. I've used that line a lot.

Sally said...

i have 3 young daughters, and i can't imagine letting them be sexualized like that. yes, they are talented, but that choreography for young girls is the stuff of dreams for pedophiles. these are not even teens or tweens - they're children. little girls that age should be completely unaware of all things sexual, in my opinion.

Alex said...

It's child porn and shame on you Althouse for giving it any more exposure.

Alex said...

Dress up is a fun game all three of my girls like to dress up - of course the rub is what you let them dress up as. This should be an obvious distinction. And it should also be obvious that it is not a good idea to dress little girls up like whores.

Dress up usually means "let's dress up like mommy" and wear "mommy's lipstick" all in parent's bedroom where it's nice and safe. That is normal.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"... there's something that creeps me out about parents who dress their kids up or encourage them to dress up like strippers."

And there's something seriously creepy about Althouse going pseudo-pedo.

wow.

just.

wow.

This is inappropriate dress and dance behavior that sexualizes these pre-teens.

I'm surprised, frankly, to see it linked so approvingly here.

John said...

Creepy to the max. Not the song. I didn't listen to enough of that to form much of an opinion.

The girls don't look 12 but even if they are, this comes very close, maybe even passes the line into, child porn.

What were the parents thinking permitting this?

John Henry

c3 said...

I didn't watch the video but this is the image that must now be scrubbed out:
Oh, baby, but you know what it does to me when you dance your Mexican Hat Dance!

GMay said...

Actually, the song is the least offensive thing about this video.

Hell, the song would be acceptable if the outfits and choreography didn't suggest these girls aspire to be single for the right asking price.

TMink said...

This is sinful.

The parents and the choreographer need to repent, stop this mess, and appologize.

Sexualizing pre-pubescent children is the devil's work.

Trey - no sarcasm

chuck b. said...

I found that video disturbing, for the reasons elaborated above.

chuck b. said...

"Pro-marriage is a bad message for young girls? When did that happen?"

Sometimes I question your ability to perceive irony.

chuck b. said...

Maybe I should question your ability to convey irony.


Or my ability to perceive blogging performance art.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

Isn't there a song that is not about, you know, marriage, that they could dance to? Pro-marriage is a bad message for young girls? When did that happen? When I was a kid, in the 1950s, we played "house," in which you pretended to be a married woman. With children, of course. Adults loved to give us baby dolls to play with. Imagine that. It was all perfectly okay. As for the costumes the girls are wearing in that video — again, in the 1950s "dress up" was a perfectly conventional and encouraged form of play. When did that become wrong?

About 1970, when people mistakenly took seriously the Left-wing drivel of Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinbrenner. Part of that 'motherhood is evil, marriage is slavery' business.

If, as I think, The Tea Party Movement is as much cultural as it is political, you may see a lot more kids encouraged to play house. And, as Kirstin noted, "married to a MAN, even."

WV "enest" How many view the Althouse blog.

PS Althouse in a sombrero? Maybe with a couple of bananas or fruit salad? Ole!!

knox said...

My daughter (who's 3) wanted to go to "dance school" and every website I went to had photos of the girls whored up like this.

She is in gymnastics now, just for the fun of it, but I am watching them like a hawk. It has its own problems, and a lot of the girls are just in it to be cheerleaders.

###

Not sure why gawker brought up the song, which has a pretty good message (and an important one, especially for black girls, IMO).

Synova said...

Maybe someone can dig up that Shirley Temple video of the little girls dressed up with feather boas and stuff.

I think.. I think that "dressing up" bothers me far less than what people buy for their little girls to wear as normal clothes.

And I think that our insistence of sexualizing absolutely everything and everyone is probably more harmful than viewing little girls dressed up "sexy" as innocent fun.

I don't think, in the end, that treating all little girls as sex objects and all men as abusers actually solves any problems.

Geoff Matthews said...

To give you an idea of its creepiness, Roissy found it offensive.

http://roissy.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/preschoolers-working-it/

When male-sluts are creeped out by the sexuality in it, a line HAS been crossed.

Christopher said...

There are at least two Beyonce videos of this song. One (first link below, sorry for brief ad) is less strip-club grindy than the other. Seems to me some of the childrens' stripper moves were taken from the second video, at least to the extent I can recall while contemplating plucking out my eyes so I don't have to risk ever seeing kids do that again.

Yes, the lyrics are pro-commmitment, in that modern brutal way. They say: If you want to screw me, marry me. This is not a terrible idea per se but it's also not the way you want to talk to young children about marriage and Mommy and Daddy.


http://tinyurl.com/6blaut


http://tinyurl.com/ye5glav


If the world had fewer insane parents, we'd all be better off.

muddimo said...

I'm not usually very negative, and I've never been as harsh as I am about to be, but if you don't see what's wrong with this, Althouse, you're an idiot. Seriously.

Cheryl said...

Seriously, you think this is harmless dress-up? Seriously?

It's so, so creepy.

Ann Althouse said...

Everyone who thinks this dancing is so terrible:

1. Make sure the badness isn't in your head.

2. To avoid hypocrisy, do not let your children watch that video or other things like it, because they will dance imitatively and...

3. If you do find your kids have watched TV and movies and want to dance the way they've seen the stars dance, you'd better have a way to stop them that isn't harmful to their psychic development.

4. Pause and reflect on the time when Elvis, on TV, could only be shown from the waist up. If you think that decision was right, maybe you are not such a hypocrite.

5. Maybe you'd like to join one of those religious cults that bans dancing, because pretty much all dancing is lascivious.

6. Make sure your daughters don't appear on the beach in 2-piece bathing suits. Or even 1-piece bathing suits. You'd better have skirts or shorts on those girls.

Expat(ish) said...

@Ann with six silly suggestions...

Did you actually raise a child? (Rhetorical question)

Good lord, a child's "psychic development" is about 1/10 as important at eating well, sleeping enough, and learning to be polite, dress appropriately, and do their homework. Actually, looking at that list, I'd put fuzzy wuzzy Dr. Spock-isms like that at 1/100th. Next thing you'll haul out self esteem...

My kids consistently see things I don't approve of elsewhere, like, say "Ed Edd and Eddy" or "The Simpsons" but we don't watch it here and they understand why. They also see people on TV acting stupidly (my wife likes Olberman, we have a mixed marriage) but they know not to do that too.

They go to homes with no books and come back starved. They do overnights with fighting families, take-out food families, and eat at the TV families. They sleep over at fight families, rude families, and uncaring families. They're always happy to come home.

My daughter is certainly capable of wearing a cute two piece suit without looking like a slut or some escapee from a Niqba who doesn't know any better. She will also, I'm sure, boogie down at the school dance this Friday (hep me!) without looking like a hooker.

You see, old fashioned southern boy that I am, we decided to raise two gentlemen and a lady. They know how to be attractive without being sleazy. It's easy, really.

Lawsy, Ann, seriously, do you really believe those six things??

knox said...

I must admit, that is a bizarrely nihilistic, all-or-nothing list!

knox said...

Synova,

I have always appreciated your comments about the sexualizing of kids and viewing every male as a potential abuser.

I have held off on the "stranger danger" thing with my kids because of your thoughtful comments on the subject. I am sure I will give them some version of it eventually, but not until they are older. My kids love talking to and meeting new people. I hate the thought of killing that impulse, and making them terrified of anyone they don't already know.

Ann Althouse said...

"ou'd better have a way to stop them that isn't harmful to their psychic development."

That means shaming kids can be damaging. Dancing might not be as wrong as you perceive it to be. And repression could be harmful.

GMay said...

Wow, I thought you were just trying to bury a bad judgment call, but then you offer a defense???

1. It isn't. Given the near uniform reaction to this post, perhaps you're the one in need of introspection here Professor.

2. Those children were taught to dance like strippers. Controlling content/input and monitoring behavior is a parent's job, do you consider your readers to be unaware of this? There is little to do with hypocrisy here. This point was exceptionally weak.

3. Seriously? Expat(ish) nailed this one. This point was just an eyeroller.

4. Elvis was dressed in relatively conservative clothing for his debut. These children were dressed in clothing apropriate for a lapdance.

5. Grasping at straws here. I mean really, I've engaged in some lascivious things due to my hedonistic nature so there's no way I'm joining any religious cult. But if you feel that little girls dressing and dancing like strippers and whores is appropriate, perhaps you might consider a cult that encourages such behavior.

6. If you can't tell the difference between a two piece bathing suit and overtly provacative clothing, discussion is pointless. Ref #4.

Very disappointing.

Christopher said...

1. Make sure the badness isn't in your head.

Make sure the moral compass isn't missing in your head. Cause the vast majority of commenters in this thread, male and female, are creeped out by this video. So either most of your commenters might have badness inside their heads, or....

2. To avoid hypocrisy, do not let your children watch that video or other things like it, because they will dance imitatively and...

Lots of parents and guardians do, in fact, shield young children as best they can from bad influences. The term is "age appropriate." I don't disapprove of Beyonce' doing this, or knocking back a few beers, or doing lots of other things. That 29-year-olds do.

3. If you do find your kids have watched TV and movies and want to dance the way they've seen the stars dance, you'd better have a way to stop them that isn't harmful to their psychic development.

Um, okay.

4. Pause and reflect on the time when Elvis, on TV, could only be shown from the waist up. If you think that decision was right, maybe you are not such a hypocrite.

That could be an interesting discussion, especially if it didn't involve ten-year-old stripper acts.

5. Maybe you'd like to join one of those religious cults that bans dancing, because pretty much all dancing is lascivious.

Cause objecting to sexualizing children is exactly the same thing as wanting to join a religious cult that bans dancing.

(Seriously, Anne, I know you are subtle enough, not that it takes that much, to recognize the stupefyingly wide range of dance styles and where they'd register on a sexuality scale.)

6. Make sure your daughters don't appear on the beach in 2-piece bathing suits. Or even 1-piece bathing suits. You'd better have skirts or shorts on those girls.

Bathing suits are are for beaches. But not, say, for church.

Kids are for lots of fun things. But not for pantomimed sex. In most other contexts I would have added, "obviously."

So... kids at a beach in bathing suits = A-OK! But not dancing like strippers in stripper costumes and choreographed to do so by adults who should know better.

This is not a difficult concept.

ark said...

My musician's brain says that the original version of "Single Ladies" does not hold a candle to this cover: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIr8-f2OWhs

I would love to see someone choreograph this version.

Geoff Matthews said...

Did Ann just throw a fit? Because those are the weakest arguments outside of DNC talking points that I've ever heard.

Seriously Ann, religious cults? Chill out, take a deep breath, and think. We don't have a problem with you dressing like that (no pics requested) or dancing like that. It's prepubescent girls.

Synova said...

So I watched the video (without sound) and it seemed like pretty standard hip-hop mixed stuff. It didn't weird me out until the very end. Until the end it seemed more energetic than sexual.

That "Isn't there a song that is not about, you know, marriage, that they could dance to?" is a bizarre objection to make to the performance is a slightly separate issue.

And maybe it's related as well to the bird sex thing and talk about what cats consider boring to watch.

And I think that my growing horror at the sex permeating every aspect of our culture has as much to do with my growing awareness, even as an adult, of things I was not aware of before, as it does actual change in how openly we portray sexual things in our culture.

Like Elvis wiggling his hips. Without a little bit of worldly understanding of what is wiggling there, it's just hips.

Mark V Wilson said...

I agree with Ann Althouse. Maybe I haven't seen enough strippers (or enough good strippers) but I didn't see anything sleazy about the choreography. As to the costumes, I saw shorts and those athletic tank tops with some adornment. What I find weird is how many people seem to see the performance as "sexualized". And I can't really imagine how one of those girls would feel to have someone tell them what some people took their performance to mean.

Methadras said...

I saw this video. These girls are excellent dancers, clearly talented, but clearly the sexualization of children is pretty darn near complete. It is evident and clear that mass media has their dirty little hands on this. I'm creeped out because this was completely cringe-worthy as a father.

Methadras said...

Ann Althouse said...

That means shaming kids can be damaging. Dancing might not be as wrong as you perceive it to be. And repression could be harmful.


I think that might be the overall point of this. Is there no shame on the part of the parents to say, "Hey, you know what? My daughter is really a talented dancer, but could we choreograph to something else or maybe tone down the outfits and still keep the song to dance to the same. Possibly even choreograph something different?"

That clearly didn't happen here because shame wasn't in the equation and I suspect to a greater extent shame as we know it is pretty non-existent.

Methadras said...

Ann Althouse said...

Everyone who thinks this dancing is so terrible:

1. Make sure the badness isn't in your head.


I'm a father of a near 21 year old daughter. The badness isn't in my head. I saw that video and winced, but I wanted clarity on what you were talking about.

2. To avoid hypocrisy, do not let your children watch that video or other things like it, because they will dance imitatively and...

When did hypocrisy become a stop sign for not judging other peoples actions. I don't care if I'm a hypocrit or not. I know if my daughter saw that video she would be mortified and say the same things I did. If I showed to her as a young girl of that age she might have commented that their costumes were cute but the dancing was weird and then ask me or mom if that was okay to do and the answer would have been a resounding no. Then the next response would have been, "but what about their mommies and daddies..." and our answer to that would been to sit her down and explain to her the differences and other ideas of other people and how they deal with their children and let them do certain things and we would have told her that we would have thought it would be inappropriate to do. She would have understood.

3. If you do find your kids have watched TV and movies and want to dance the way they've seen the stars dance, you'd better have a way to stop them that isn't harmful to their psychic development.

I don't get this one as a means of psychic development? I've seen my daughter dance from stuff she's seen on tv when she was a little girl. We even used to dance together when we would watch the waltz on Lawrence Welk when it came on Nick at Night, but she knows that the more heavily sexualized moves where a no no back then. Now, well, like I said she's nearly 21, so I'm sure at parties that might be a little different. I'm choosing to ignore it because I can't do a thing about it at this point. It's on her now.

4. Pause and reflect on the time when Elvis, on TV, could only be shown from the waist up. If you think that decision was right, maybe you are not such a hypocrite.

Was it right? No. Was it wrong to do? No. It's just how the mores of the time were. That has nothing to do with hypocrisy.

5. Maybe you'd like to join one of those religious cults that bans dancing, because pretty much all dancing is lascivious.

6. Make sure your daughters don't appear on the beach in 2-piece bathing suits. Or even 1-piece bathing suits. You'd better have skirts or shorts on those girls.


Now you are just being silly and your anger is showing.

GMay said...

"I agree with Ann Althouse. Maybe I haven't seen enough strippers (or enough good strippers) but I didn't see anything sleazy about the choreography. As to the costumes, I saw shorts and those athletic tank tops with some adornment. What I find weird is how many people seem to see the performance as "sexualized".

Well let's just say you have really low standards then.

Since hypocrisy has been brought up, even Madonna gets the idea here.

"And I can't really imagine how one of those girls would feel to have someone tell them what some people took their performance to mean."

If they were raised well, they'd probably be horrified, yet thankful. A good parent would use the opportunity to have a good life lesson. Sadly, the odds that those girls have good parents along those lines is probably lower than average.

Since psychobabble has entered the conversation twice now, let's use it from a different angle.

I shudder to think of those girls entering their teenage years thinking that sort of dance and dress is acceptable behavior. Getting such positive validation for that "look" from their parents and a public audience, then wondering why teenage boys are acting they are. Teenage boys aren't going to look at that and be impressed with their "artistic talent".

Or worse yet, continuing to seek validation through similar means and thereby entering adulthood with severe male validation issues that will lead to a host of issues ranging from severe depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, depression, unwanted pregnancies, abusive relationships, dangerously low self esteem, and STDs to name a few.

Each one of those I see as more likely than damaging a girl's psyche by sitting her down and explaining the facts of life to her. It's been done for thousands of years successfully and without therapists...or cults.

wv: butnest - seriously?

Sid said...

After reading Ann's various arguments, all I can say is...Were I a teenage boy, dating a girl she raised, then I would be totally stoked, because I would expect that girl to be hella-slutty.

CatherineM said...

It has NOTHING to do with the song, but the costumes and suggestive dancing.

My friends 2 year old daughter the danced to the video while she watched it. In her Onesy pjs. Watching a barely coordinated 2 year old dance enthusiastically to the song is cute.

Seing 7 year olds dressed and dancing like a girl from the movie Showgirls is not the same thing. They were taught that. I had the same reaction to 16 yearold Miley Cyrus pole dancing. WHAT are these parents thinking?

muddimo said...

Stop digging Anne. Let's just say some of us are thinking it's a good thing you had sons, not daughters, although perhaps the experience would have helped you develop some wisdom.

muddimo said...

Oops, "Ann"

Expat(ish) said...

@Ann: That means shaming kids can be damaging.

Bunk.

-XCC

Ann Althouse said...

@Sid Oh, bullshit. She'd kick your ass.

But I didn't raise girls. I raised boys. And they don't abuse anyone.

Ornithophobe said...

Okay, the costumes were awful. Dancing to something from Moulin Rouge, maybe they would've worked- but they just looked trashy here. Which is a shame, because the dancing was spectacular; those girls were dancing their hearts out. Good choreography- I wouldn't have thought girls so young would be able to learn a routine that complex and fast paced.

But I know my view isn't the most common one- I'm jaded by spending the late 70s/ early 80s in liquid blue eyeshadow and fuschia silk, sequins and feathers, doing jazz interpretations of disco hits for old folks in nursing homes. You should've seen us doing "A Fifth of Beethoven" in our fringy spandex. Ah, if only my classmates had been half so talented as those little girls in the youtube video.

All those folks so weirded out about this must have never been to a dance-class recital before.