Flash mobs need to stop. In fact, they needed to stop about five years ago.
We've all been there, walking through the grocery store alone on a Saturday, perusing the natural foods aisle looking for someone to make fun of in our heads. “Oh man, that dude's not gonna lose weight eating organic fudge,” we think. We smile. But then, our spell is broken. Out of fucking nowhere come a group of people who have coordinated their actions over the Internet. They start doing some impromptu dance rendition of whatever quirky thing Hungarian prisoners came up with on YouTube last month. It's supposed to blow your mind.
But the thing is, flash mobs are hardly a spectacle anymore, and they certainly don't make you re-evaluate your place in the universe or whatever. Participants tend toward time-rich and imagination-poor drones ready to publicly debase themselves at the drop of an email.
For example a new affordable, arts-centric senior living center is opening in the North Hollywood arts district and they've planned, for today, a “super-secret” flash mob dance number composed entirely of senior citizens. We won't totally ruin it by telling you exactly when and where it is, but oof. They've even hired Bond girl Thumper to add some star power.
Anyone in the vicinity will likely be as bored as the women above. Plus, things are hardly super-secret when you send a press release.
Sure, there was a time when the flash mob served an entertaining purpose. We'll admit, we were slightly tickled by some of the early mass pillowfights and seemingly spontaneous dance numbers. Way back in 2003 there was a whole, “OK, that's kinda neat” quality to a bunch of people using a relatively new set of technologies to organize for the purposes of self-entertainment and whimsy. But, that was, like, ten years ago, guys.
Things started to get bothersome when cell phone companies, marketing firms, and half-assed PR groups got in on the action. The whole concept took a flying leap over the shark in 2009 when millions of people took a moment to watch a YouTube clip of a Belgian TV station's viral Sound of Music mob. They really never even advertised what they were selling. They were just like, “Hey, we're dancing. Check it out.”
Now these things are just everywhere. There are national meetup groups that calendar all of them, and an L.A.-based company whose sole purpose is to organize them for you or your lame cause. Why can't we just exist in a public space and not have to be surrounded by dancing shitwits?
Sure, maybe we're in the minority here. But potential flashmobbers, let's look at what you're being asked to do. First, you're being told exactly what to wear, which is usually exactly the same as what the other people are being asked to wear — i.e. a uniform. Then, you're being told to execute a precise action in unison. THEN, you're very likely told exactly what to say and how to say it.
Hmm…that sounds an awful lot like:
Yeah. Those guys that one time. In that place.
Now before we get too curmudgeonly, let's be clear. If someone wanted to organize a flash mob where legions of Iranian women did a true-to-life Rockette's impression on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's dick at a “The Holocuast Didn't Happen” conference, we would be in favor of that.
But until something like that happens, let's just go ahead and ignore flash mobs. Even if they consist of elderly people sashaying to get other elderly people into boutique art housing, buttressed by a 65-year-old former Bond girl. Especially if that happens.