Respect Yourself: Going to Wal-Mart

May 23, 2011

Duncan Cooper spends a lot of time on the internet. Every other Monday, he pays tribute to the hours spent with original video and audio. This week he celebrates all the kids getting kicked out of Wal-Mart for filming themselves dancing in the mouthwash aisle.

About a week before Mr. Ghetto's "Walmart" was simultaneously proclaimed Media Takeout’s "Hot Mess of the Week" and Perez Hilton's "smash hit of summer 2011," Naomi showed me all these old YouTube clips of kids cranking dat in Wal-Mart circa 2007. As easy it would be to dedicate this column to the remarkably agile women of Mr. Ghetto's video, maybe the really surprising story—instead of grotesque ass obsession—is how many people are apparently chilling at big box retailers and recording dance vids. This little montage commemorates all the kids not trying to go viral, the original Wal-Mart-dance pioneers proudly pushing 200 views.

You can be brain-dead and still see the role Wal-Mart has played in making middle America boring, so it's refreshing to see how many people—and how many different types of people—are reclaiming the aisles as noncommercial creative spaces. I've been to Wal-Mart in the middle of the night, and it's eerie and liberating, like being in an empty high school for Saturday detention. Maybe these dancers are members of a post-millenial Breakfast Club, where the real life-affirming isn't in dismantling stereotypical identities but in inventing new weird ones in a place that needs everybody to be the same. They're just goofing off, and it's fun to imagine who they're doing it for. Sure as hell not us.

From The Collection:

Respect Yourself
Respect Yourself: Going to Wal-Mart