May 07, 2010

Flashmob. Or Not.

Apparently, the Greater Hartford Arts Council organized (or, to use the word that I saw on Facebook today regarding this, choreographed) a "flashmob" today at State House Square. It looked kind of fun....

A small slice of uneasiness here....does something cool cease to be cool (or perhaps, become less cool) when it's used as a tool by an organization (regardless of how worthwhile)? When people are invited to come watch? When it's pre-packaged and marketed?

I think back to that staple of arena and stadium fandemonioum, The Wave. Wikipedia has a few alternate versions of how this got started, but as I recall from those early years, the coolness of The Wave was its grass roots origins, how one fan, or perhaps one rowdy section, would work to get it going, how each section in turn figured out that it was happening, and how the stadium sort of caught it's breath and watched, hoping it would make it around. No organization or marketing needed.

Today, with a mascot leading the charge, a video screen, announcer, and theme music proclaiming "It's Time for the Wave!" - it is simultaneously simple to get a wave going, and a lot less cool. It was plucked from the realm of "self entertainment by the masses" and co-opted by management.

So, an organized "flashmob" set up by marketers and with full sanction of all parties (official or no), with an invited guest list. Kind of cool. But only "kind of".

Addendum: A follow up tweet from GHAC. "Clear Channel Radio was at today's hARTfordFlashmob...were you?" 5 points from Gryffindor. Clear Channel? The bane of independent, local radio? Might as well announce that Walmart, Monsanto, and BP were there as well....."

Addendum II: And (Courant, FoxCT, WTXX, Advocate, etc.) describes this as Spontaneous Dance Breaks Out In Hartford. Sigh. A quick foray over to Merriam-Webster online provides several definitions of the word spontaneous, including:

5 : developing or occurring without apparent external influence, force, cause, or treatment
6 : not apparently contrived or manipulated : natural

Au contraire. This appears to have been completely contrived or manipulated. IMHO.

Jude = Arts and Tourism Crank and Marketing Curmudgeon. Guilty as charged.

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