Archive - Jul 2009

July 17th

It's Laming Men, More Like

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Memo to the Nicollet Flash Mob: YOU ARE DUMB.

Ah, the flash mob. That post-millennial creation borne of instant communication, boredom, and self-aware absurdism. And in a great cosmic irony, an idea that's seriously overstayed its welcome. Yes, I'll admit that the one with all the Hammer Pants was pretty cool, but in doing my research on the lame flash mob you're about to read about, I heard about another one, in San Francisco last month, where a bunch of people got together and sang "A Little Help From My Friends". Badly. If I want to hear a bunch of doofuses sing "A Little Help From My Friends" badly, the Sgt. Pepper movie with the Bee Gees is out on DVD. I don't need a flash mob for that.

The flash mob that apparently took place on Wednesday in downtown Minneapolis suffered from a similar conceptual flaw. But rather than describe it to you myself, first let me present the one goddamned thing I could find on the web about this, despite it being covered on local news. The summons, from the archives of flashmob.com. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"IN ORDER TO PROMOTE "ONE MAN MINNEAPOLIS" WE ARE GOING TO INVADE NICOLLET MALL! MEET US IN THE CRYSTAL COURT OF THE IDS CENTER,IN FRONT OF THE FORMER JEWLER SPACE, RIGHT NEXT TO THE MACY'S SKYWAY. FROM THERE WE MOVE TO NICOLLET MALL RIGHT OUTSIDE OF MACYS. TRY YOUR BEST TO REMEMBER AN UMBRELLA. WHEN THE SONG "IT'S RAINING MEN" STARTS TO PLAY, EVERYONE OPEN THERE UMBRELLAS. OUR GOAL IS TO GET AT LEAST SIXTY PEOPLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS PUBLICITY STUNT. SO ON YOUR LUNCH BREAK, COME TO THE IDS CENTER AND HELP US CREATE A VISUAL SPECTACLE THAT WILL BE UNEXPECTED TO ONLOOKERS. WE DO NOT WANT ANYONE TO PREDICT THAT WE ARE GOING TO SIMULTANEOUSLY OPEN UMBRELLAS SO MAKE SURE TO APPEAR AS NATURA"

I don't know if it was the author or the site that suddenly imposed the text limit, so let's just assume he said "AS NATURAL AS POSSIBLE" and go from there.

One Man Minneapolis is apparently an event-slash-competition in which 20 local men compete to see who best represents the Twin Cities in the areas of community involvement, personality, intelligence, and fitness. So no, I won't be walking away with the prize this year, either. Fuckheads. In any event, isn't "It's Raining Men" a piss-poor match to an event designed to cull 19 unfit men and leave one standing tall? It's not so much that it's raining men, more that men are being washed away by a tide of criticism and judgment. But that's a minor quibble.

It's the umbrella thing. The umbrella thing flows logically from the bad "It's Raining Men" choice, although again, I'm not sure how protecting yourself from man-rain jibes with the song's exhortation to rip the roof off and stay in bed. Plus, if it actually were raining men, an umbrella wouldn't actually stop you from being crushed. Although in the flash mob's defense, asking everyone to bring concrete overhangs would have reduced turnout. Speaking of umbrellas, though - if the sole purpose of the event is to have a bunch of people open umbrellas at the same time, why are you asking people to "try your best to remember" one? If you're part of this flash mob, and you don't have an umbrella, you're not part of this flash mob. QED.

But here's the big, huge conceptual flaw with this flash mob, and again, I'll use the Hammer Pants one as a counterexample. In the Hammer Pants Incident, a short excerpt from "You Can't Touch This" was played. During this entire time, a choreographed group of flashmobbers actually did the corresponding dance moves from the video. See where I'm going here? The original It's Raining Men, by The Weather Girls, is a five-and-a-half-minute song.

The act of opening an umbrella, however, takes five seconds, tops.

Which means that the "VISUAL SPECTACLE" promised by this flash mob are a bunch of Midwesterners, milling around awkwardly on the street, holding umbrellas, while a disco song plays in the background. For five minutes and twenty five seconds. It's like the worst version ever of that awkward wedding processional where the bride and groom have picked their favorite song in the world, only the song is like eight minutes long and even the slowest walker in the universe can traverse the aisle in about 30 seconds, so everyone just kind of stands around staring at each other while whatever romantic pile they chose loses all its meaning in the collective wondering whether they're really gonna play the whole damn thing.

If you're going to do the flash mob thing, don't. But if my exhortation still hasn't convinced you to stop, at the very least have the good sense to get in, do something mildly awesome, and get the fuck out. That, of course, is the whole essence of a flash mob, not five minutes of uncomfortable dance music in service of a beauty pageant with delusions of grandeur, which nobody even understands because they've all whipped out their iPhones to see if it actually was supposed to rain today. Which, by the way, is exactly what would have happened if the public had somehow predicted that they were all going to open their umbrellas, so all that acting NATURAL was wasted effort piled on top of more wasted effort. Nice job, flash mob.