sexual, emotional, intense: a “reading” of bowie/jagger in “dancing in the streets”

one of the greatest things ever for a writer is when something you’ve written ages ago is suddenly rendered timely by breaking news. case in point:

huzzah! not new news to us though, thanks to a “dancing in the streets” analysis i wrote awhile back…

[ps. see also: sensei’s masterpiece on The Transgressive Radicalism of “Dancing on the Ceiling”]

“are you ready for a brand new beat?”: the utility of hegelian theoretical precepts via the praxis of mimesis and aesthetic distance through sexual ambiguity; ie: a socio-critical humanistic assessment of personal safety and the tyranny of choice in david mallet’s “dancing in the streets”

i know, i know. the title really says it all, but let’s plod on just for kicks.

please note: because our main characters repeatedly break the fourth wall, all argumentation here is couched within a narrative scenario in which we, the viewers, are the protagonists and we have the free will to determine our own fate. the question is this: do we want to dance with these men in The Streets?

and… action.

this is not The Streets.

it is a badly painted brick wall photographed in shadow with a green tint.

this is also not The Streets.

it is a shot of reebok aerobic shoes quick-stepping on concrete flooring that is presumably- if we’re working within a context of logical narrative and spacial reliability- located in close proximity to the badly painted brick wall.

sidenote: are these shoes yellow? or is their yellow coloring an illusion created by the aforementioned green tint? the internet is divided.

let this be a lesson to us all:
never ever allow yourself to be photographed mid-whistle.

or, for that matter, mid-yell.

so let’s take stock.

according to the man above, the time is right for dancing in The Streets.

if, for a brief moment, you thought this directive applied only to the residents of tokyo, south america, australia, france, germany, the UK, and africa, you’re mistaken. we north americans are not exempt from the dancing scourge. there’s, allegedly, dancing in chicago, new orleans and new york city as well.

so here’s my question: is this a man you want to be dancing with in The Streets?

obviously, there are a lot of variables at play. i have absolutely no doubts about this man’s sincerity, but we’ve not yet seen The Streets to which he’s inviting us.

there’s a chance they’re lined in gold and exceedingly well-lit. but solely on the information that is available to us at this point in the narrative, wherein we have a man in a green silk shirt, blue silk pants and yellow shoes vigorously dancing alone in a warehouse and asking us to dance with him in The Streets- what is your answer?

do you say yes?

it’s a tough question, i know.

does the image above influence your decision?

does the presence of this man doing pelvic thrusts in the rafters change your mind?

we are in an abandoned warehouse with badly painted walls and a man in animal-print is jumping from the rafters like a puma. this raises a legit question: are we going to die?

no. obviously they just want us to dance.

by which i mean, they desperately want us to dance.

and they’re kinda pissed that we don’t share their enthusiasm.

ah, AT LAST! we are in The Streets. which are really, let’s be honest, not so much Streets as a white mansion’s driveway with vaguely threatening cars parked at the end.

now, i don’t want to be nit-picky, but these men made a lot of promises to us back there in that abandoned warehouse and i don’t think we should let them off the hook just because they’ve finally taken us to The Streets.

um… wasn’t there supposed to be dancing? like, a lot of it? wasn’t the whole world supposed to be in The Streets with us? isn’t that what they promised? because this is kind of like just those same two men who were dancing in that dirty crackhouse a moment ago except now they’re in a driveway.

granted, there’s a bit of lee-way here. the verb tense is present participle: “they’ll be dancing in the streets.” so maybe the world has simply not yet arrived? maybe they’re fashionably late and we’re those lame peeps who come rolling in at the exact moment printed on the invitation because our mother always told us our soul mate would prize punctuality above all else.

perhaps the whole world is squished into those vaguely threatening cars? or, at the very least, the district of columbia?

(dear anyone reading who can ride this reference train: i’m pretty sure The Streets are the same street where, years later, brandon and steve get involved in high-stakes illegal drag racing during episode 17 in season 3 of the original 90210.)

this is a music video of many tensions (we’ll get to The Big One in a sec), but i find myself terribly distracted by the vaguely threatening cars. why are they there? the most obvious course of action would be for them to be driving towards the great dance party that is unfolding here in The Streets and for people to leap forth and for a block party to bust out all mariah carey “fantasy” style. but no. they just sit there, impotently sinister.

i question this directorial choice. dear david mallet, wtf?

ok, now that we’ve seen The Streets and you can make a more fully informed decision, i repeat:

is this a man with whom you want to be dancing in The Streets?

bowie seems to think it’s safe. but then again- and this is really a personal decision- is it wise to put one’s faith in the choices of someone who is wearing a trench coat over a matching animal-print shirt and pants?

i don’t care where you’re dancing, it matters what you wear.

earlier, i mentioned that this is a music video of many tensions. it’s pretty safe to say that the most pervasive tension is sexual in nature.

exhibit a…

exhibit b…

um… yeah.

when i was a kid i didn’t understand the technology of music video making. meaning, i thought they were live performances that were recorded. it made no sense to me that people would need to make all those horrid singing faces if they weren’t actually singing.

that said, i do rather enjoy the idea that maybe this moment was one of total silence…

so back to the big question.

do you or do you not want to be dancing with these men in The Streets?

please note: one of them may be a vampire.

the other has an enormous mouth and a mullet and is wearing an outfit nearly entirely comprised of silk to an event he presumably knew would involve- at the very least- mildly aerobic dancing.

oh, damn. i’ve been remiss. i want you to be able to make a fully informed choice and i’ve gone and failed to mention the most important thing. because if there’s even the tiniest possibility that we’ll be dancing in The Streets with these men, we really should devote a moment or two to discussion of their moves.

fyi- they have none.

please remember: no matter how badly you do it, dancing is physically taxing. especially if you’re wearing highly breathable natural protein fibers and in The Streets. so take care of yourselves. stay hydrated. be safe. drink coke.

ok, now that we’re refreshed and we’ve seen their moves… do we want to be dancing with these men in The Streets?

oh yeah, the vampire may also be a ghost.

and, lest we forget, The Streets are adjacent to that creepy abandoned crackhouse full of doorways and with rafters from which animal-printed men leap.

if you look at it through a certain lens (ie. your child of the 80s glasses), “dancing in the streets” is all about peer pressure. over these 2:58 minutes of coercion, every excuse is trotted out for why we should be dancing. it doesn’t matter where we are or how we’re dressed (though this entire video negates the truth of that), records are playing and everybody’s laughing and singing and we’re being total stick-in-the-muds because we don’t wanna.

omg, even the communists are dancing in The Streets! why aren’t we?

my #1 reason:

who the hell would want to dance in The Streets with that?

seriously. the shallowest of shallow glances into your heart should suffice.

i’ve got to give them credit though. they really, really want us there. i mean, yeah, they’ve invited the whole nation and the whole world, but don’t you feel as though, on some level, their night just isn’t going to be complete if we’re not dancing? they seem to really care about us as human beings. did you catch that lyric at the end? it’s “me and you” dancing in The Streets. this is, like, personal.

still… i shudder to think how a third would factor into their dancing.

the prospect of overcrowding is obviously a source of concern for them as well…

but given that this block-party’s going worldwide, they’ll presumably get over that.

or they’ll have a rumble.

things are winding down now. we’re back in The Streets and the moment of choice is upon us.

will you be dancing in The Streets?

does this help you decide?

oh wait. you’ve maybe not got enough. here’s the real deal:

[no, really, read sensei’s masterpiece on The Transgressive Radicalism of “Dancing on the Ceiling”. NOW]

2 thoughts on “sexual, emotional, intense: a “reading” of bowie/jagger in “dancing in the streets”

  1. Pingback: the deep reading of rick astley’s “never gonna say give you up” (for which you have not asked) | finding jackie

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