Flash Dance

One upside of being stuck in a hotel in South Carolina while the airlines sorted themselves out last week was some unexpected family time, part of which included joining together in a king-size bed to watch Sound of Music.

The pleasure of seeing that film for the umpteenth time reminded me of this video (originally introduced to me by my oldest boy) of a “flash mob” breaking into a choreographed performance of “Doe a Deer” at the main train station in Antwerp. Apparently, the Flash Mob phenomenon is worldwide with dancing and singing (not to mention statue performances and pillow fights) breaking out from New York to San Francisco to Jerusalem.

As much as I enjoy the performances themselves, the thing that really moved me about these flash-mob “attacks” is the look of bewilderment turning to joy that appears on the faces of passers-by who happen upon these activities. To a certain extent, this is just the natural response anyone would have when confronted with a world that suddenly turns into a Broadway musical. But I suspect there is more to this reaction than simple surprise.

After all, we are now nearly a decade into the post 9-11 era, and while we may have convinced ourselves that those attacks are now part of history, anyone old enough to have remembered that experience must in some way be sublimating a notion that unspeakable horror can break out at any moment, arbitrarily killing, maiming or destroying without mercy. Yet the flash mob (even if often commercial) tells us that joy can magically break out without warning just as arbitrarily as violence.

But what would happen to this tool of unexpected magic if the BDSers got their feces-encrusted oven mitts on the concept? Well then you might have something like this.

In this case, the spontaneous “flash mob” invaded a Best Buy retail shop to sing and dance about the evils of Israel in front of the Motorola display. You see Motorola makes night vision equipment and other gear used by the Israeli army yadda, yadda, yadda and thus they are a target for worldwide boycott which pretty much amounts to the occasional picket outside a cell phone store coordinated by BDSers via their Motorola cell phones.

But with the Flash Mob phenomenon registering serious hittage on Google, it was just a matter of time before hair-trigger partisans tried to get into the game. But one only need look at the faces of the Best Buy crowd (which features confusion turning to disgust compared to bewilderment turning to joy in any other flash-mob “attack”) to see the difference between “Doe a Deer” and “Hang Up on Motorola.”

For groups who use the flash mob to create spontaneous sublime moments are actually providing a gift to their unsuspecting audience. One need only look at the hugs and high-fives that follow these performances to see that a unique moment has been shared by performer and audience alike.

The BDS flashers, in contrast, could not care less about the crowd in whose face they strut their stuff, for the simple reason that unsuspecting shoppers at Best Buy are not the audience for this performance, but are merely props. The audience for this dance troupe are like-minded BDSers with whom they can share a demonstration of “edgy direct action” which amounts to little more than self-indulgent irrelevancy.

This may explain why, in a YouTube world where the online audience for joyous flash mobs shoots into the millions, the “Hang Up on Motorola Dancers” have trouble breaking five figures, a reasonable estimate of the number of people who share their cause, minus the few of us who checked out their performance either for research purposes or simply to stare in dumbfounded shock at the lengths the Israel-dislikers will go to get anyone to pay attention to them.