To whoever tweeted the video of a young dancing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in an attempt to shame her on the day of her swearing-in as a U.S. representative: What is wrong with you?
Perhaps, somewhere, there exists a small, sad sliver of the human population that still believes, 17th-century style, that dancing is sinful, that having fun is wrong, that music is corrupting, that a young woman playfully noodling around with her hair down must be some kind of wild, out-to-get-you Medusa. I guess the Puritan prejudice against a good time hasn’t entirely disappeared.
Otherwise, how could anyone think that publicizing a video clip of a beautiful, college-age Ocasio-Cortez dancing with her friends could harm the Democratic congresswoman from New York? For this was the motivation behind the clip, which was edited to focus solely on Ocasio-Cortez, and went viral Thursday.
“Here is America’s favorite commie know-it-all acting like the clueless nitwit she is,” tweeted AnonymousQ1776. (The Twitter account apparently has been deleted.)
To which the rest of the sentient world responded: Wow, she did a thing.
Newsflash, AnonymousQ1776: People Ocasio-Cortez’s age —who grew up with the Internet — will have videos of themselves being young and dancing.
The backlash against AnonymousQ1776’s off-base judgment is what made the 2010 video go viral, and it was entirely predictable, because to anyone without a political agenda, this video of a group of Boston University students is a display of lighthearted, uninhibited high spirits. It’s a little goofy, intentionally. It’s a whole lot of joyful celebration, obviously. It testifies to the power of dancing, the ecstatic release of it, the vicarious pleasure we get in watching it and why for eons humans have danced and connected with one another through dancing. We all know this.
Some on social media have noted the irony of trying to embarrass Ocasio-Cortez over her youthful dancing while Brett M. Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual misconduct in high school, and his own admissions of heavy beer drinking in his youth, did little to hurt the Supreme Court nominee’s confirmation.
Ocasio-Cortez is guilty of — gulp — having friends, having fun, looking amazing and, holy cow, enjoying herself on a beautiful day.
College days can go a lot worse. Evan Spiegel, chief executive and founder of Snapchat, spent some of his sending misogynistic emails to his frat brothers at Stanford that cheerfully chronicled getting sorority girls drunk, and worse. These were released in 2014. These are actions to be ashamed of.
In August, political opponents tried to drum up a scandal around then-congressman and Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke (D-Tex.), who in his 20s was a musician and skateboarder (can you imagine), and the maneuver backfired the way the Ocasio-Cortez happy dance has. Both have become folk heroes, with special appeal to the young and diverse voters their adversaries would like to court.
Even a parody Twitter account has been set up to capitalize on Ocasio-Cortez’s Terpsichorean fame: @AOC_dances. And the account has her video set to other music.
Here’s how the congresswoman responded on Friday:
Like many others at the time, Ocasio-Cortez and her friends were staging a “Breakfast Club” tribute dance, riffing off the scene in that 1985 movie where a group of high school kids let loose in the library to Karla DeVito’s song “We Are Not Alone.”
In the full-length Ocasio-Cortez video, the choreography is much the same, with close-ups of the feet, wildly flinging hair, lots of freestyle bouncing and students pairing up and scooching across the frame side by side.
But the sclerotic aghastness at Ocasio-Cortez’s goofing around brings another movie to mind — “Footloose,” about a small town in which a local minister has banned dancing.
It’s tempting to throw a grand statement on this thing, like: Ahem. Clearly we inhabit an America caught between a Puritan past and a rebellious present.
But the truth is, this only magnifies that we inhabit an America of goofballs and most of us grow up and contribute to society and some even get sworn in to high public office.
Others should put some music on and, oh, I don’t know . . . dance.