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November 3, 2005

Diggers, Rise!

Recently, I saw that movie "Rize" about the new street dance style from L. A. called "krumping" I've somehow gotten interested in. The phenomenon in itself is worth investigating, but the film is marred by its stupid director who apparently used to direct commercials and music videos before. So we get all these stupidly manipulative emotional strategies we know and loathe, in the way the music is used, the way the interviews are conducted (cluelessly, manipulatively and redundantly), the way the movie never asks a lot of relevant questions, and especially in the way the camera behaves; e. g. presenting the dancing bodies mostly from below in a glossy way that seems to strive for sexiness. Almost every other decision the director made is dumb, too, but the absolute cryptoracist nadir is that some dance scenes are intercut with movie snippets of an African tribe dancing filmed by the absolutely disgusting Mrs. Riefenstahl. Yo' director man's apparently suggesting that it's somehow in their genes when black kids from L. A. paint their faces, dress up in weird things and dance around in an aggressive way, because, lookahere, African tribe members are also painting their faces, dressing up in weird things and dancing around in an aggressive way. That juxtaposition makes it rather hard to keep the lunch down, especially since it's so obvious that the parallel is tenuous, to say the least. E. g. the anonymity and vague threat of the krumpers' clown masks have a lot more to do with all-white J. W. Gacy and Stephen King's "It" than with any Yoruba rituals. The clown dance comes across not as a participation in any archetypal harvest ritual, but a sort of staged fight against an enormous pressure weighing the dancers down. It looks admirably spastic and quite aggressive, but the people involved seem to be surprisingly gentle all the same; the style apparently was devised by some ex-con part-time clown as an alternative to gang warfare. What fascinates me is that there's something of the strife for the nonhuman about it; waves of pure disembodied aggression seem to be passing through these people. If "krumping" is done well, it looks like people channeling fighting dinosaurs. And that may be the reason why it works beyond the usual aesthetic confines of pop: some dancers are beautiful, some are notably ugly. But the dance somehow makes the latter ones a wonder to behold too, especially some enormous only-in-America rotundities who wobble when the vibrations pass through them. I'd like to be able to do something similar, heck, I'd like to be able to dance anyway, but I'd even more like to be able to krump. Hope this craze catches hold in Europe, too. Somehow, I think it will.


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