My sisters and I as kids loved old movie musicals with dancing in them probably as much as any genre. This video making the rounds on Facebook is something I have seen posted and re-posted and have personally watched at least five times already. I have shared it twice on Facebook, and it continually gets re-shared, especially by friends my age or older. Why does something like this go viral? Well, Bruno Mars is a popular young Michael Jackson clone with an amazing musicality that appeals to all ages. And the video is beautifully edited so that all the dancers from old movie musicals are actually in sync and appear to be dancing to the beat. But the game-breaker for me is the fact that the dancers are all the old stars that used to fascinate me with their dance moves on PBS back in the 1970’s when old movie musicals got played on Friday, Saturday, and sometimes Sunday evenings. I recognize Fred Astair, Gene Kelly, Buddy Ebsen, Donald O’Connor, Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland, Cyd Charisse, Mickey Rooney, Groucho Marx, the Ritz Brothers, and many more from the movies I loved like Anchors Away, Singing in the Rain, New York New York, and so many others I can’t even begin to name them all. This mash-up brings back a whole lost world for me and gives me joy. It connects the past with the energy of the present. It gives me something to long for, to sigh for, and to fondly recall. I want to see all those movies again. But it wouldn’t be the same without my sisters there.
One has to wonder if all the time we spent on entertainment during our lifetime was a lost cause or not. I have a rich tapestry of memories of other people’s lives, gained through movies, television, and books. But has that enhanced my life? Or has it taken away from my life’s work? I know work puts food on the table and makes continued life possible. But it also has to define the value of our lives. I have never, though, lived a moment as a teacher when something I learned from movies or a book has actually interfered with delivering instruction. And I can name innumerable times, looking back, when being able to recall entertainment experiences led to a unique teachable moment. Those things can actually be the most important things we teach. And what an entertainer in any medium manages to communicate to me validates their life’s work.
This flash mob concert makes me weep for joy every time I watch it. It makes me realize what marvelous fulfillment there is in the act of committing a work of art. How must poor demented and deaf Beethoven be soaring in spirit to have his work take so many people by surprise like this? It gives me chills to think about that kind of immortality even though the composer is long since dead. He is still giving astonishing gifts to little girls who put a coin in a hat.
You don’t even have to be Beethoven-levels of famous to create moments that will live forever in the memory of the universe. I have watched this video of street performers across the world so many times I have it memorized and can sing along. I have shared this video so many times that I expect others to tell me, “Just stop it already!” But they never do. We learn the value of art by being an audience… by being consumers of art. And it gives me hope as well for my own artistic endeavors. Making money is not the point. Sharing my work with others… even long after my own personal time on earth is up… is the precious thing. I am reminded of the culmination of the long and glorious career of Charlie Chaplin. And the movie clip that gets circulated so often now after another tragedy like the one in Paris. I dare you to listen to this speech and not be moved… to hear it out and not learn something important.
Thank you for letting me waste your time today. I intended to commit no further evil in the world today, than to let you share a few of the things that everybody seems to be finding beautiful and worth the effort of sharing.