Don’t Film My FlashMob, Dude – You Obviously Don’t Understand

Art is over. There hasn’t been any significant artistic movements or “isms” in nearly 50 years. Some art experts believe Andy Warhol helped hammer the final nails into the coffin with Pop Art. In the early 1960s, with the arrival of the Xerox machine, Warhol was able to photocopy images of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe dozens of times until they were meaningless. Copies of copies of copies. Art was a parody. Art was a commodity. Art was over.

With the passing of significant tactile art movements came a new form of expression called performance art. It became popular with the hippies in the 1960s with “Happenings” and “Be-Ins.” There might be music, face painting, dancing, blowing bubbles, nudity, laughter, hugging, crying, tumbling. There was no limit or restrictions on what these events could be. They were beautiful moments, created by many beautiful people. Then everyone would pack up and head home with only groovy stories to tell.

The main point was performance art was temporary. It wasn’t to be hung in a gallery.   That’s already been done, dead, and over.

This was a new creative mode. But you had to be there. No really. You had to be there. Either you were part of it or you weren’t.

Flash mobs continue in this same vein today. Dozens of people coming together to create a random and temporary artistic display. These gatherings could be anything from hundreds of strangers suddenly squirting one another with water guns in a city park or a “seemingly” impromptu ballroom gala inside a shopping mall. Again, temporary art, not for mass public consumption. You either see it or you don’t. You snooze, you lose.

A flash mob makes you famous for 15 minutes, a term coined by Warhol himself regarding fame in the future.

Until now.
With the accelerated spread of video camera cell phones, hardly a flash mob occurs without being filmed and instantly placed theoretically forever on the internet. But you see, this is all wrong. Flash mobs are temporary performance art pieces. Not movie sets. Not gallery works. Filming a flash mob takes away its power and beauty. It tells the world they don’t have to be there. Stay home and wait. Don’t participate. All the good stuff will just end up on the internet anyway.

Next time you’re walking through the middle of your city and a hundred people suddenly and inexplicably freeze like statues, enjoy the magic, but leave the cell phone in your pocket.


About Blog Boss

Jim MacKenzie and Sarah Giavedoni are the creators of the blogs Stuff Monsters Like, the Incredible Vanishing Paperweight, and more. When they are not blogging, they are devoted to managing the Asheville Blogger Society, watching movies, running a completely unrelated nonprofit, and making money at their paid employment.
This entry was posted in Pop Culture: Movies, Art, and Comics, Social Media and the Interwebs and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Don’t Film My FlashMob, Dude – You Obviously Don’t Understand

  1. Erica Holt says:

    I love this! Thanks for writing it. Can you imagine — an effort to stop people from videoing flash mobs? Some people plan flash mobs for that very point, right. Regardless, I like your sentiments very much.

  2. Helen says:

    you what’s also great? when i go to intimate concerts and people are watching the whole show through their camera/iphone, preferring to record the whole event rather than watching and listening and taking in the even itself.

    • Erica says:

      Ha! Yes, that’s my favorite part of concerts too. Pretty soon we won’t experience any events directly.

  3. Elena Fultz says:

    I totally agree! And about filming most things. When I go on trips with groups, it saddens me that people pull out their cameras every time ANYTHING happens. They first see a museum or a cathedral not with their own eyes, but through the digital camera screen.
    I don’t think you can experience a moment and record that moment at the same time–you have to do one or the other. I’d rather be present in the moment and then try to remember it later. As you said, you had to be there–and sometimes people who were there, still really weren’t.
    Thanks for the post!

  4. The Hook says:

    Interesting take on a new craze. Well done.

  5. gigi wolf says:

    I was moved enough by one video of a flash mob to write a post on my blog about being inspired by these moments, and how they bring a few moments of delight into an ordinary day. Some of them remind me of a fifties musical, which I am very glad are recorded on celluloid, so that we can enjoy them forever. I understand that performance art and flash mobs are temporary, like elaborate sand castles, or chalk paintings on the sidewalk. With the next rain, or just the passage of time, the art work has disappeared. We love to hold on to special moments; to recreate the sentiments we felt when we experienced something new and different. It is just never the same when we see our pictures or recordings, but they can bring back the trip, the memories of the great day we had, and the friends and family with whom we were seeing it. I will probably never see any of these performances in person, but I am glad I can see them on the internet.
    gigi wolf, author of A Woman’s Guide To Everything on

    • MonsterStuff says:

      You make a very good point, Gigi. Thanks for the comment. I love the internet for the very reasons you list. I fear that in the future, more and more of our private lives will be made public by the internet, cameras, and social media. We will likely be searching for those few, pure, un-recorded moments of our day.

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