Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Final Project

Posted by lillieeastham on May 10, 2017

By: Alyssa Dusheck, Lillie Eastham & Emily Jones


Dance crazes have been popular since the 1960’s when “The Twist” was the most popular dance and over time while the songs have varied in styles dance crazes still become popular every couple of years, examples of these dances (in no particular order) include: “Crank Dat”, “Whip/Nae Nae”, “Gangnam Style”, “Pop Lock and Drop It”, “Harlem Shake”, and “The Dab”. Although these crazes usually both rise and fall quickly it is important to ask ourselves how something can gain such massive popularity and unpopularity in such a short time and what each of these dances have in common in relation to their spreadability. Spreadability is the concept that deals with the distribution and circulation of media, otherwise what effects media popularity. Some qualities that effect spreadability include open ended participation vs. pre-structured activity, diversified experiences vs. unified experiences, and the motivating and facilitating of sharing media. All the characteristics/qualities listed above are interdependent on one another to promote media spreadability.

Not only do those characteristics effect media spreadability as well as the form of media (television shows, movies, music, books, etc.). As dance crazes are typically related to a song this accounts for the quick rise and fall because music has a much higher turnover rate in comparison to television shows, movies, and books because less of these works are distributed or circulated as quickly. While creating, an album is time consuming it is far less time consuming than producing a television show, movie, or writing a book as less steps are involved. During the production of television shows and movies scripts must be edited and revised multiple times, roles must be cast, scenes take multiple takes to perfect, and even after filming there is editing to be done; while with music there is generally one artist and set band to record and most discrepancies in the voice can be fixed using auto-tune. When it comes to the circulation of media an album is typically released all at once except for one to two singles that are released close in date to promote the album whereas television shows and movies are distributed/circulated at a slower rate as you must wait to watch one episode a week or you must wait a year to see the sequel to the movie that you just watched.

As for the characteristics previously mentioned open ended plays a large role in the rise of dance crazes as well as the fall because there is so much open ended participation allowed it almost hurts the popularity of the crazes. This goes hand in hand with the topic of diversified experiences because what that simply means is reaching a variety of audience which means young, old, weird, or cool. An example of this used in our presentation on the rise and fall of the dab is that it was made popular by NFL player Cam Newton and then slowly became made fun of through the use of memes whenever celebrities/politicians such as Hilary Clinton went on television and performed the dance. Although not everyone is obviously a fan of Cam Newton he is a neutral personality, while people may not be a fan of the team that he plays for they can still respect him as a player while Hilary Clinton does not have the respect of many people and those who don’t respect her have a radical view. Not only do celebrity personalities influence us but also our peers/family members. Also featured in our presentation are pictures of our younger siblings who are elementary aged dabbing which makes an older audience question if the dance is appropriate for them to participate in, and also our parents which makes the younger audience question their participation as well. As for the motivating and facilitating of media, dance crazes are highly encouraged usually which also goes hand in hand with the idea of open ended involvement as memes are made, recreations of dances on YouTube/Vine, songs are played on the radio, and even some schools/ sports team make videos going along with crazes but the turnover for music is simply so high that the dances fall short.


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