Today’s Vaguely Science Fictional Thought of the Day
Posted on November 21, 2012 Posted by John Scalzi 59 Comments
I’d like to take these dudes back to, like, the 14th Century and just watch people freak out at their dance moves. I mean, back then they wouldn’t even have context for the adjective “robotic”.
Don’t look at me like that. I didn’t say it would be a deep thought. Just a science fictional one.
I often want to bring the S&P boards from any 1950’s TV network to the present day and make them watch “Dexter”. :) (Or Game of Thrones. Or Homeland. Or, hell, most episodes of prime time TV, period.)
Before you take them back to the 14th century, give me a sec to invest in Feydor’s Torch, Rope and Kindling supply house, cuz I see a run on the market coming up!
Who says that I have a low opinion of humanity!?!
I think their adjective might be “puppet-like”.
That’s awesome. Wonder is it’s choreographed or ad-libbed. Dancing mania started in the 14th century so who knows what they’d think. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dancing_mania
These guys are part of a dance “collective” in Atlanta. Three of their members were on “So you think you can dance” for auditions. All three made it to Vegas. One made it onto the show. His name is Cyrus and he is incredible. My wife and I watch that show all the time and his motivation and drive to excel were phenomenal. His love of dance was infectious. He came in second. He was never in danger of being voted off by the audience. I can honestly say his performances and his character moved me.
Sorry, gushing now. :)
That was really well done. Also: finally some Dubstep that I could enjoy. I was wondering if that would ever happen.
Kill them with fire!
Marquese Scott (the guy who dances first) also did this famous (72,000,000+ hits on Youtube famous) dance to a dubstep remix of Pumped Up Kicks.
I doubt the sounds accompanying the moves would be understood as music. Aside from the mechanical inspiration, some of the moves are inspired by cinematic concepts such as ‘slow motion’, ‘freeze frame’, and ‘rewind’. Clearly, the men are possessed by evil spirits.
Clearly, they are controlled by Skynet.
The syle of dancing is called “animating.” Largely thanks to So You Think You Can Dance, Dragon House and Cyrus (one of its members) have done more to popularize dubstep than anyone else, including Skrillex. This is either good or bad, depending on your views on dubstep. (FWIW, since dubstep is now being used by K-Mart to sell back-to-school clothes, and by Microsoft to push IE10, its status as edgy is dubious at best.)
Maybe I have too much faith in humanity, but I think the 14th century would be more puzzled by backwards baseball caps than their dance moves. It’s 2012 and I’m still puzzled by it.
Puppet-like is one (as Kevin B. noted); automaton-like would be another, if you displayed these dancers at a court that had seen an automaton.
Intense. Like watching forms in martial arts .. but not.
What I’d like to bring back to the 14th century would be AC/DC from ’79 along with however many solar powered generators it would take to power their equipment. The song set would start with ‘Highway to Hell’. Why? Just cause.
A friend of mine suggested that we should travel back in time and give Archimedes a modern Calculus book or Newton a modern Physics book. Oh, the progress we could have made.
The music would have to go. How would you explain where it’s coming from, much less whether it’s music?
For those who can’t quite take dubstep as such, check out the Glitch Mob. I find them to be a (critcial) half step more listenable. Many of the same synth tricks, but not quite so raw. Good starting song: Warrior Concerto.
I remember a science fiction story from a ways back where someone went back in time to give Newton a calculator. He never used it, because the red display (from the 70s-80s) appeared demonic. Not to mention it’s satanic magical qualities.
I watched this with some other music playing (I’m listening to Scottish radio and didn’t want to turn it down). I think ye 14th C people would have laughed at least as hard as I did.. Coffee on the screen again, oh futz..
And ANY physical skill this good is worthy of admiration.. That’s why I (over 50, fragile, female) would Love to be a Parkour paragon
As Chaucer might have put it: “Saint Vitus hath a posse.”
@gleonguerrero: I think that the time traveler also entered a problem into the calculator for which the solution was 666. Awkward…
Calculator won’t help Newton. He understood math just fine; mechanical math won ‘t help figure out calculus or physics…
Actually, they *did* have automatons in the 14th c.: http://willscommonplacebook.blogspot.com/2008/06/14th-c-robots.html
And robot SF fanboys: http://willscommonplacebook.blogspot.com/2008/06/14th-c-robots-ii.htm
[Tice with a J, this is one of those places where your sarcasm would have generated more trouble than amusement, I think. Bear in mind I have a good idea what you were trying to do and cast no aspersions on you for trying it. I just don’t think it would have worked as you intended — JS]
@Scalzi – Sorry about that. Anyway, thanks for posting the video, and I’ll keep your thoughts in mind for the next time I try being humorously ironic.
Many people have said my first thought: the people of the distant past would probably seek to drive out the demons obviously possessing these boys. But damn, that was freakin’ impressive. @Matt, you say they’re from ATL? Do they perform in the area? I’m in Athens, would LOVE to see this live – I’m so impressed with the muscle control needed to do things like this. It would be amazing to see them live!
Possessed by the spirits, definitely. Or the spirit, depending on who was doing the proclamation.
Great stuff, always fun to watch dubstep movement.
“A friend of mine suggested that we should travel back in time and give Archimedes a modern Calculus book or Newton a modern Physics book. Oh, the progress we could have made.”
Try “Aristotle and the Gun” by L. Sprague de Camp for a somewhat different take on the idea. It’s available in a number of collections: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?57944 .
“I’d like to take these dudes back to, like, the 14th Century and just watch people freak out at their dance moves”
No need to go back that far. Just broadcast it on network tv during the Eisenhower administration.
@ Rob St. Amant: I think you’re right. Wasn’t that a story in Omni from way back when?
I loved this video! Like Matt, I’m a huge So You Think You Can Dance nerd and enjoyed Cyrus and the other members of Dragon House immensely on this past season. If you really dig this sort of thing, I highly recommend the series Legion of Extraordinary Dancers (also known as LXD). It’s available on Hulu last I checked and is a wonderfully creative series that imagines people with extraordinary dancing skils as super heroes of a sort. It has some pretty spectacular examples of many different forms of dance (krump, bboy, popping, etc.). My favorite is Robot Lovestory but there are many great dance numbers in it. If you watch SYTYCD and/or Glee you may also recognize some of the dancers and choreographers (Lil’ C, Harry Shum Jr., Christopher Scott). Seek it out, you won’t be sorry.
I suspect they might find themselves on the receiving end of an attempted exorcism. Cool dance moves, though.
@gleonguerrero: Good memory! Googling, I discover that it’s “Newton’s Gift,” by Paul J. Nahin, in Omni (January, 1979).
Still my favorite robot dance (wait for the guy in the red/orange shirt, about 0:40): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YJ3BTKMILw
John, John, John!
This has nothing to do with this thread, so mallet me if you must but read this! Monday I found a memoir at the local bookstore of Stephen Tobolowsky, the Hollywood film and television actor of the last thirty years. You know the guy. He was the obnoxious insurance agent in Groundhog Day. He was in Heroes as Bishop. He was in Deadwood. Over 200 films and TV productions. Read it in one sitting overnight (last book I did that with was your Redshirts last June). You must read this book. I went to high school with Tobolowsky back in the late sixties in Dallas; we were on the debate team together. Which is why when I saw the memoir I immediately grabbed it and headed for the checkout lady. Title? The Dangerous Animals Club. I would have sent this to you in an email, but I don’t know how to do that as I’ve never tried that route to your desk or attention. Okay, I’m done. No interest in this thread topic as I hardly ever click on any of the videos you imbed here, as my ancient Dell desktop is so [expletive deleted] slow. More cat pictures please. I love cats. Have a great Thanksgiving with your family and friends. God bless you and yours. Gary Willis
Fun! They are probably good enough to dance to madrigal.
My immediate reaction: These people are mimes. Mimes who have found a way to make people want to watch them.
This really makes my ankles and knee hurt….really bad..but then I’m middle aged
I’m with Sten. I think that they are very good mimes. It’s where Steam Powered Giraffe got started: http://youtu.be/cR_kpihFYEc
A lot of that music could be played on hand-drums and shawm, actually (That’s a challenge, intertoobz!). About the dancing,
1. courts would have had, or heard of, jongleurs who did acrobatics and mummery, and
2. Upper-class dancing was mostly about projecting ceremony and control, with grace a nice fillip if you pulled it off, so parts of their dancing would be impressive to anyone.
Me, I imagine they arrive in the Burgundian court, show their stuff, and hear “That was amazing. Watch THIS!”
That was outstanding. Thanks for linking to it.
I think that people in the 14th century would get the hang of this pretty darn quick, even if they did not know what a robot was. In later medieval times complex mechanical clocks were built, some with animated figures and musical chimes. Also, although life was harder then, medieval people still had their fads, entertainment and entertainers, too. They probably would have enjoyed this on market day. It’s very entertaining, and much less painful than a public execution.
I bet it would go viral, medieval style, and work it’s way down the Silk Road to China, where it would fuse with both Chinese opera and martial arts traditions. I think that Hong Kong movies would be even better with an infusion of these kind of moves. I can see it in my mind’s eye: “The B-Boys from Shaolin”.
One final thing: if you haven’t read “The High Crusade” by Poul Anderson you might enjoy it. It’s full of a happy few medieval people confronting technology more advanced than the present day and coming out on top. It’s still in print.
That is truly impressive. Remarkably talented young men.
Did they have mimes back then?
Dubstep, meh. Talented dancers, woot. Defenitely mime influenced.
GADZOOKS SOME ENCHANTRESS HATH CAUSÈD THOSE MOORISH FELLOWS TO BECOME LIKE UNTO MELTING TREACLE
This talk of going back in time to give Newton a calculator reminds me of Valentin Albillo’s short story, “Time Voyager”, published in a newsletter about Hewlett-Packard calculators. http://membres.multimania.fr/albillo/calc/pdf/DatafileVA004.pdf
I’m surprised my Newton comment got so much attention.
Poul Anderson’s “The Man Who Came Early” is about a 20thC US engineering student-cum-soldier who finds himself in 10thC Iceland and comes a cropper despite his techy advtanges: “his lack of practical know-how, and his oversophisticated ideas when set against the nature of 10th-century life, lead to none of his suggestions being implemented”, as Wikipedia puts it. It also say the story is a response to L. Sprague de Camp’s novel Lest Darkness Fall, in which a modern man’s skills prevent the fall of the Roman Empire.
Whenever I see something cool like that, I want to take it to the far future and see if space-faring cybermen will be as impressed as I am
Eric Flint wrote an entire series about a small southern town being transported into Europe in the 1600s and their subsequent effect on the politics and warfare of the time.
I don’t know if Dragon House performs as a group. The impression I got from the TV show was that it was more of a “group of starving artists” living together and collaborating as opposed to the concept of a group of folks dancing in a choreographed fashion like the Rockettes. If that makes any sense. :)
Jumped into comments to make some witty 14th century statement about witchcraft and demon possession and moorish fellows and cleansing with fire…and I see several people beat me to it. :-(
Thanks for linking to this – now *I* want to go back in time, to my 20-year-old body, when I would have had a chance to be able to do a bit of this myself…
The Internet Archive has Omni Magazine loaded for reading. Here’s January 1979. Newton’s Gift is page 50.
Good, but I’d still rather watch Jenyne Butterfly pole dance (old time blog reader!). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwNpaxkhefI
I’m gonna go with BURNED AT THE STAKE LIKE THE WITCHES THAT THEY SO CLEARLY ARE.
What if in the future, this how people (or robot people) walk and move in everyday life?
Oh, and dubstep is elevator music in the future. That’d be my guess at least.
The most salient point, if taken back in time, would be “Do they weigh more or less than a duck?”