Thursday, October 21, 2010

Brat Pack Urbanism

Molly Ringwald in John Hughes's Pretty in Pink. From avoidantconsumer's Brat Pack mashup

Coming to a city near you. Brat packs around the world appear to be taking to the rooftops, bridges and streets of their cities to put their spin on the "Lisztomania" dancing-mania viral challenge.

It started when a group of Brooklyn hipsters shot themselves dancing on a Brooklyn rooftop to Phoenix's Lisztomania:

I first saw the "Brooklyn Brat Pack" video via a link by Cerre, who came across it on a Craigslist ad for a Brooklyn apartment. I don't know if it was the urban waterfront and scripted dancing, but the video made me very wistful for my early-90's undergrad days in Boston when I myself first became an urbanite. So I tagged the video in my faves.  I noticed then that a group of SF kids had also imitated the video. I thought it was kind of geeky of SF youth....not wanting to be out-hipstered, of course, but I noted the way the production lovingly profiled the city:

Phoenix - Lisztomania (SF BRAT PACK MASH UP) from chinorockwell on Vimeo.

That was it. I knew that we were on to something viral here. Sure enough, coming back to check later, here are a few other entrants to the Lisztomania bobo-city challenge:





And hey...Boston. If there ever was a Brat Pack U, it's gotta be BU:

As you can see, some are rather slickly produced, others more "carefree".

I didn't infer early on that the "Brat Pack" in the Brooklyn video title was a reference to the memorable dancing scenes in 80's John Hughes flicks, so I was a bit disappointed when I discovered that the original rooftop dancing was all choreographed to roughly imitate the dance sequence in avoidantconsumer's Brat Pack tribute (currently found here), which features the dancing highlights from the Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink,...with a smidgen of Mannequin's(?) thrown in. The dancing revelry in all the above renditions is quite genuine and delightfully city-scaped, but, so far, none of the dancers I notice seem to have captured the utter abandon of the original references. The unloosed ecstasy of Jon Cryer and Anthony Michael Hall. And the undeterred expressions of Molly Ringwald (perfect example above), which in their aped versions I kind of mistakenly thought were sweet and artful montages. (C'mon, do our census-snuffing bourgeois youth have to be blase even in this?) 

But,...then did I fully grasp that undercurrent of nostalgia striking me subconsciously. There was nothing necessarily "urban" in the pop-saturated angst-paraphernalia and upstart don't-hand-me-down attitudes of the Breakfast Club, but we, the kids of the Boomers who were weaned on this stuff, sure brought the mantle of Brat Pack couture into the city in the 90's. I remember Urban Outfitters back when it was just another thriftster dive in Harvard Square.  We turned the city into our urban lab and accidentally created the condo-boom of the early Ought-as. To see these dancing Millennials fooling around on our prized rooftops is both endearing and upsetting, lets face it. Envy-producing. It brings poignant waves of reflection, especially as many of us, with mates and babes now in tow, face the prospect of heading back grudgingly to the burbs, to the wastelands and old haunts of that vacant consumer culture we thought we spurned.

Life moves a full circle. It's hard sometimes to see that so it can be with urbanism. That the "choice" of urbanism is as banal as a tolerance for sharing flats with Friends. What was our love for the city, really? A passing fancy? A sinister fetish? A dance on the rooftop with the fortunate only?...Sentimental, no, not sentimental. Romantic and disgusting. From the mess to the masses...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really like your article