Every few months, the media likes to serve up some sort of scare story to parents — whether it’s sexting, rainbow bracelets, or whatever. It usually turns out that the panic hardly fits the actual facts. In this case, though, the story appears to shame parents into paying attention to the choices they make for their daughters. In an age of overly sexualized youth, did the World of Dance competition really need eight- and nine-year-old girls doing a routine that seems more at home in a strip club than on a playground? ABC News reported on the story of the WoD YouTube video that went viral:
The parents fired back later, saying that the video had been taken out of context:
It’s hard to see a context in which the choices of outfits and the grinding moves on the dance floor could be appropriate for girls of this age. The father wants to blame this on YouTube, claiming that the dance routine wasn’t meant for millions of people to see. That dance routine wouldn’t have been appropriate for a room of 20 people, let alone 2 million. It’s not the publication of the routine and the costumes, it’s the routine and the costumes themselves. Blaming YouTube is like saying you’re only sorry you got caught.
It wasn’t long ago that this very impulse was skewered in the otherwise-overrated Little Miss Sunshine, when the misanthropic grandfather of a girl the same age as these dancer choreographed a bump-and-grind routine for his granddaughter to do in a beauty contest. The film assumed that the audience would get the satirical point about objectification taken to a reductio ad absurdum. Now that real life has mimicked art, maybe the producers overestimated the intelligence of their audience.
My granddaughter will turn eight in two weeks. I cannot imagine going to one of her dance recitals and seeing either the costumes or the grinding routines displayed in this video. Girls don’t need adults encouraging them to sexualize themselves for the entertainment of others; they have enough pressures on them already in that direction. The parents and adults involved in this dance should have been looking out for their long-term interests, not imposing a pole-dance routine on them that they cannot possibly understand.
Chris Rock once joked that the first job of any father was to keep his daughter off of the pole. Maybe he should have a chat with these parents.
Update: Rewrote the third paragraph to be more concise.
Update II: Cassy Fiano has a second video of the dance troupe, and concludes that the first isn’t out of context at all.