7

Dooley, Unduly

Yesterday afternoon, I opened YouTube to look for a video – probably a song from Hamilton or a clip from Family Guy – and the first thing that came up on the recommended videos list had a thumbnail of a confused-looking redhead, and was entitled “Kids for Sale.”

So, naturally, I had to click…and I might have been sorry that I did, because the last 24 hours of my life have been occupied by one Stacey Dooley.

Ms. Dooley, who is just a few months older than I am, is a British TV journalist/documentarian who presents shows where she goes to different countries and investigates/attempts to solve/ingratiate herself in a local social issue, like human trafficking in Cambodia, cybersex in the Philippines, and the hard-partying lifestyles of the tourists of Magaluf.

Stacey Dooley gained fame on a show called Blood, Sweat, and T-Shirts, where she was one of a few unknown fashion-obsessed British teenagers who went to India to see how much illegal child labor goes into making the bras, jeans, and sweaters that are so readily disposed of after one season in the UK. Dooley was so inspired by either the plight of the people or the attention that she decided to extend her one-off appearance into a television career.

I watched first the episode called “Kids for Sale,” where she goes to Nepal in order to free children who are illegally working in sweatshops. I was actually kind of impressed; she seemed to take no shit from people, have a genuine interest in learning about their lives, and in the welfare of the children in these situations. She managed to free a little boy completely in no time at all, which was incredible to watch, and then joined another boy on a long trek to find his parents, which ultimately failed, but at least she (or her producers) had the wherewithal to take the boy back to Kathmandu with them rather than leave him in the company of some shady relatives. The whole piece had a very positive, uplifting attitude about it, and I wanted to see more.

In my research, I found a few websites which threw her under a double decker Routemaster bus. There was an article about how her piece on Japanese suicide culture was so lame that it actually seemed to glorify suicide at times. People picked apart everything about her, from her constant crying to her lack of journalism experience to the fact that while we see subtitles when non-English speakers appear on the screen, she seems to be listening to them intently and nodding along, as if she speaks fluent Spanish or Filipino or Thai. Several comments sections and derogatory remarks later, I returned to YouTube to watch some more from her.

The next one I watched, about Cybersex and Children in the Philippines, made me cringe a little at first. After reading the comments of others, I saw the whininess, the crying, the repeated lines, and a few moments where I was going “really, Stacey? You’re just going to walk away as this tween continues to flirt with sexagenarian British men on Facebook? You’re going to get in a stranger’s face and tell him he is a bad bad person?” (As a side note – the raid scene was incredible to watch. I can’t believe they pulled it off, especially foreigners with camera equipment) Overall, this hour made her seem more like an uninformed, blithely attempting do-gooder from the West who was either ineffective or making things worse.

But I decided to watch just one more, and I definitely picked the right one, about Tourism in Magaluf, a hot spot on an island off the coast of Spain where British teenagers like to go and get knackered (or is it knickered? I don’t know). This episode just struck me as something that could apply to teenagers everywhere, not just in Britain – it should be required viewing for high schoolers. In the first part, Dooley tries to enjoy herself despite all her crazy peers who are not documentary-makers, and then she continues on as a worker in the resort town, volunteering with the police and the paramedics on different nights, and seeing how disruptive the behavior of British teens can be, not just for themselves but for an entire island whose population they outnumber each summer. I used to be curious about going to Magaluf as a tourist and seeing what it’s all about, but now I kinda want to do what she did and volunteer with the police to see all the crazy people. I’m sure that if any teen from the UK – or the USA – were to step into Dooley’s shoes on one of those nights, they would never drink again. And if my rowdy neighbors would watch the bit about the hotels, and how annoying all the drunk people were, maybe they’d cool it on Saturday nights (as in: right now, where every thought I have is punctuated by a door opening, noises and bodies spilling out, and then said door slamming shut). Even though drunk and entitled teenagers isn’t as groundbreaking as child sex workers, I do think that Dooley made some really good points and showed me, at least, something that I would not have seen otherwise. Because we’re almost the same age, it does feel like I’m traveling along with her, and that I’m glad to not be rotting in a ditch on the Punta Ballena. She doesn’t get particularly emotional in this piece either, and on the whole, it seems like a responsible journalistic work. Except for the part when she ran after some thieves, wanting to interview them, that was kind of stupid, she could have gotten hurt.

In the past 24 hours, I’ve gone with Stacey Dooley to visit the homes of tourism workers in Thailand and Kenya, and the mean streets of Cambodia where pimps and child prostitutes roam, and I’m not done yet.

But my feelings about Stacey Dooley have gone back to the admiration of how I initially felt about her. I don’t know about the British public, but in terms of their misgivings about her and her shows, as far as I’m concerned –

1. Yes, she’s young and emotional, and that’s okay. She’s braver than most of us are, and is probably in even more danger than her show leads us to believe. She doesn’t always ask the most rational questions, because she’s interested in the humans and their experiences, rather than delivering history lessons and listing off facts. And yes, she cries a lot. But I think I would too if I was sitting with a child prostitute in Cambodia or in a morgue for dead British teenagers in Thailand. She’s a human, with emotions, and if that annoys you, go do something else.

2. She’s doing something that you are not doing. So yeah, you donated twenty dollars, but she actually went there

 

3

Soothing Summer: That’s So ’80s

Despite writing and editing for a few hours today, I went from 60 pages to…61 pages. Phooey.

Anyhoo, as I was walking home from the office in the rain, the song “Dancing on the Ceiling” started playing on my iPhone, and I couldn’t help but smile and recall one of my favorite YouTube videos of all time, the incredibly derpy opening to the 1988 Miss Universe Pageant.

Watch it here:

For some reason, it tickles me to watch these delightful vintage videos of women with awful hairdos dancing to corny music in useless costumes, and this one takes the cake. Skip to 2:00 for the fun to start, with a ribbon dance.

Here are my highlights:

2:20 – The producers decided to have some ladies sing a line in their native languages. Why they picked Miss France, I have no idea. She looks so bored.

2:45 – They used to have professional dancers for a reason. Most of these ladies look incredibly awkward, except Miss Scotland, who is totally on point. I’m surprised she didn’t place in the competition.

3:13 – Parade of Nations, beginning with Miss Argentina.

4:04 – And the Miss Air Pollution award goes to Erika Paoli, Miss Costa Rica. Just look at that hair height. Jeez.

4:45 – Poor Miss Honduras. She’s a little on the roly-poly side.

4:52 – Complete with a dissonant chord in the music, we get Nauseated Miss Iceland, who looks like she’s either possessed or about to puke, or both. Ironically, her roommate Miss Norway made it to the interview rounds and said that Miss Iceland was a fun roommate. Maybe they got drunk together.

5:58 – Miss Portugal is clearly on some kind of helium.

6:05 – The host delegate, Miss Republic of China, gets a few extra seconds for applause, which she uses to give the camera the “better give me the crown or I’ll kill you” eyes.

And finally, 8:43, where we get to experience Out-Of-Sync Miss Sri Lanka. Seriously, she can’t even wave her hands in the air correctly. You had one job, Miss Sri Lanka.

Also, if you look in the background at the flags, one of them is the flag of Gambia, a country which didn’t participate this year.

I don’t know why, but it makes me laugh. If you liked this post, check out my post from 3 years ago on Awkward Miss Estonia et. al.

Good night everybody.

14

Internet University

No, this post is not about Trump University.

Now that that’s out of the way…

I’ve noticed a trend, and bear with me on this one, because it might sound extreme, but…The Internet. Today, at dance class, when someone had a question about a samba step, our instructor said that she does it one way, but on YouTube you can see it done another day. When I asked some other people in class how they learned West Coast Swing so well, they responded “The Academy of YouTube.” And yes, I fully admit to using Google Translate to help me understand words in different languages.

But think about it. If you have an Internet connection, you have access to the equivalent of several college degrees:

For Classics, Project Gutenberg has tons of public domain books. Put that down for Literature, Theatre, and Philosophy as well. Didn’t go to cosmetology school? Beauty gurus exist on YouTube. Want to study historical films? Amazon Prime has that. How about discovering your inner Freud? Psychology Today. And of course, for current events and political science, there’s everything from Buzzfeed to The Huffington Post, and you can even cross-reference sources. There’s probably even more out there.

And if you want to get hazed by a fraternity, hey, there’s always Chat Roulette.

Plus, you don’t have to worry about student loans or course registration or segregated fees that go to constructing new stadiums and new condos for sports coaches…

That’s totally it. Colleges are a giant money scheme set up by football coaches. Illuminati, confirmed.

What am I doing with my life again?

11

Masterpiece YouTube: Team StarKid, “The Trail to Oregon!”

Happy July 4th, y’all! I haven’t shared a fun YouTube in almost a whole year (September 30th, 2015), so I figured I’d share one of the most American things of all time (or what should be): musical theatre mixed with American history, so…here’s the full cast recording of Hamilton!

Just kidding, and yes, I am sick of hearing people obsess over it, it’s kind of like…have you ever seen a musical before? Ever? Anyway, here’s another fun musical.

That’s So Jacob Presents:

Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 22: Team Starkid, “The Trail to Oregon!” (2015)

Any true American who grew up in the 1990s played Oregon Trail, the original educational, low-graphics game designed to teach kids about Manifest Destiny but mostly ended up teaching kids how to shoot a buffalo, die of dysentery, and an excuse to make up obscene family names.

I remember I was scared of the game when I first encountered it in fourth grade, because the trend was to name your characters after your family members and friends, and I got it in my head that if you died in the game, that meant you died for real, or were going to die soon, which led to many, many nightmares about my family members being buried in the Wyoming wilderness or eaten by wolves. Eventually, though, I got over that silly fear and joined everyone else in making sure that Jelly Head, Pantyhose Nose, Donkey, and Princess Bunny make it to the Willamette Valley. And if they didn’t, oh well, at least you could write a dirty epitaph on their 8-bit tombstone.

But enough about nostalgia, back to the video. Team StarKid, the University of Michigan-based student acting troupe behind A Very Potter Musical and its sequels came up with The Trail to Oregon!, a brilliant choose-your-own musical adventure that eventually made it off-Broadway. Five characters play the basic family members your game gives you: the dimwitted Father (Jeff Blim), the stressed-out Mother (Rachael Soglin), obnoxious Son (Lauren Lopez, AKA Draco Malfoy from AVPM), easily-distracted Daughter (Jamie-Lyn Beatty, AKA Ginny Weasley from AVPM), and stereotypical oldster Grandpa (Corey Dorris), who doubles as Cletus Jones. The remainder of the parts, including a deformed ox, a fast-talking general store owner, and a horny bandit, are played by Joey Richter, AKA Ron Weasley from AVPM.

If you have two hours, or even if you don’t, it’s worth a watch for all the witty lyrics and low-budget fun. You even get to pick who dies at the end: I’ve only clicked on the Mother one and the Daughter one, but eventually I’ll watch the other three.

My favorite numbers are the two that open the show, “Gone to Oregon,” especially with all the bad rhyming, and “Independence,” a perfect selection for July 4th, especially with the “YMCA” tribute towards the end. Even though the talk of it being a “family vacation” is a little cringey – it was actually a complete lifestyle change, it’s not as if they were going to take tacky tourist photos and then turn back around and head back to Illinois, although that would be an interesting twist. The only part where it sagged for me was the story line with the Daughter and the bandit, I felt it was too melodramatic and one-note for the rest of the production despite Beatty’s brilliant acting and singing. “It Pays to Be an Animal” and “Speedrun” are also fun numbers. Anyway, enjoy!

This episode of Masterpiece YouTube was brought to you by AMERICA.

6

A Meditation on Malfoy

So, I’m not the most humongous Harry Potter fan out there, but I do like it, and now I like it even more after my discovery last night of A Very Potter Musical.

I had just completed the 750-piece puzzle I bought last week that actually turned out to be a 748-piece puzzle because two pieces seem to be missing. While I was looking around for them, and scrolling through some YouTube links, I came across “Going Back to Hogwarts,” the opening number from the show. I played it, expecting it to be subpar, but it was surprisingly catchy, almost Billy Joel-like in its rhythm and lyrics. It’s also really funny; Cho Chang has a Southern accent, and quite obviously from the voice, Draco Malfoy was sung by a female actor.

Then, today, I looked for more on YouTube and sure enough, StarKid Productions uploaded it, in about twenty parts.

And I watched them all.

And it was totally awesome.

All the actors really shone. I actually couldn’t tell that Harry Potter was played by Darren Criss, who I find annoying in real life, but not bad as an unrecognizable Harry. The actors playing Ron, Ginny, and Snape kind of camped it up a bit, but I really liked Voldemort, Dumbledore, Hermione, and most surprisingly…Draco Malfoy.

I’m not the type of person who jumps at the evil characters. In fact, quite the opposite; I’ve always felt oddly drawn to Gryffindor, even though it’s kind of turned into the House for overachieving losers. Slytherin’s where all the cool kids are, and despite a lot of my Harry Potter-loving friends singing the praises of that house, I guess I’m just such a fan of playing by the rules that Gryffindor seems to be the house for me. Many who read the books found Harry Potter to be annoying, but I rooted for him most of the time, and definitely against the Slytherins, because when you have that much power, why waste your time being mean and petty when there are bigger fish to fry? Anyway, Draco Malfoy always seemed to me like a Wizard version of Harry’s cousin Dudley Dursley; rich, spoiled, overweight, and generally a nuisance, even though he seemed to redeem himself in the later books.

But in AVPM, Malfoy is totally the opposite.

Whereas most of the characters are played straight, brilliant actress Lauren Lopez accentuates all the quirks of Malfoy from the books and stretches them to the max, whether she’s drawing out words in a posh accent or seemingly forgetting how to walk and rolling around the stage for no apparent reason. Combined with the bad wig, the glazed expression, and the bitchy scowl, this interpretation of Draco Malfoy makes him turn from evil to downright adorable.

See for yourself:

And that’s how I spent the majority of this beautiful day in May.

15

On Having A Song Stuck In Your Head All Weekend

My weekend was ruined.

All because of one song.

It all started Friday night, when I went to the dance. I danced to this one song, “Shut Up and Dance,” by Walk the Moon (which is not Walk Off the Earth), and fortunately, Emily was there to tell me the song’s title and artist. That reminded me of another song which I had heard several times, that sounded sort of similar, but not exactly the same.

And of course, I couldn’t remember a single lyric.

I knew the general tune, and that it went “boom boom boom” something, and I knew that if I heard it just once, I’d be like, oh, of course, that song. Friday came and went, but by yesterday afternoon, after dance class, I was humming the song in my head again. I just couldn’t get it out. And the worst part was that I didn’t even know what I was singing.

And it was tearing me to pieces.

I kept thinking of every single other similar sounding song: “Drive By,” (Train); “50 Ways to Say Goodbye” (Train); “Maps” (Maroon 5); “Animals” (Maroon 5); “Counting Stars” (One Republic); “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Fall Out Boy); “Glad You Came” (The Wanted)…and that was when I realized that three-quarters of the songs released by male artists in the last five years all sound exactly the same.

Anyway, I was up until 3 AM last night, going to extreme measures. I was using up my bandwidth to listen to every song by every group from the last five years that sounded even remotely similar to the one I was looking for. I scoured Wikipedia, Google, and SoundsJustLike.com for anything to trigger a memory. Today, I even made a Pandora channel for “50 Ways” in hopes that that song would come up (strangely, I got a lot of Adele, not that I’m complaining). It was literally pounding at my frontal lobe; no grading, no homework, just find that damn song so you can get some sleep tonight. It wasn’t until I downloaded Spotify and played two full playlists of contemporary 127 BPM or higher jive songs that I finally found it. Then I realized that it’s Sunday night and I’ve barely made a dent in grading.

And that’s how to ruin a perfectly good weekend by looking for a song.

I guess after all that, I should let you know what the song was…but I won’t!

 

 

 

…Just kidding, it was “Runaway Baby” by Bruno Mars. Have a listen.