The dance and its disappearance
In October 2018, cosplayer Nyannyancosplay uploaded a video to the app Tik Tok which featured her dancing and lip-syncing to iLOVEFRIDAY’s “Mia Khalifa.” The internet was immediately captivated. But why? The obvious answer is that Nyannyancosplay (now @Kat on Tik Tok) combined a popular song with skilled performance on an of-the-moment app. But sometimes, we have to look past the obvious.
In early November 2018, Facebook user Loremer Tangian attempted to do just that. He posted a 700 word comment to the Know Your Meme entry on the video in an effort to get to the bottom of why this particular piece had struck such a chord.
Here, in the spirit of Genius comments, I present an analysis of his analysis in hopes of building upon his work and ultimately enriching our understanding of a cultural phenomenon.
I have deduced the reason behind why and how this video is cursed.
“Cursed” is common internet slang denoting a text, image, or video that is upsetting to the viewer in some way, but perhaps also captivating. Here, the author appears to be using it to describe the inescapability of the video—the almost physical hold it has upon him.
For one, this girl is highly attractive and her cosplay is actually good, appealing the eyes of watchers. Her cosplay also reveals her stomach which is very nicely shaped (not to skinny, not fat, not ripped, but a really natural look, it’s intriguing to look at). Her makeup is good as well. It really brings out her eyes and makes her smile a lot more appealing.
Note the repetition of the word “appealing,” an intentional literary device used to reinforce the author’s point. But the use of this device goes beyond emphasis—it references the repeatability of the looping video.
Secondly, I myself find myself fascinating at the way she moves. It’s very smooth and fun to watch. For example the spin at the start that she stops suddenly and kind of leans foreword then quickly straightens out, it is very well executed and goes along with the beat, making it satisfying to watch.
We move on from a purely aesthetic analysis of the performer to a discussion of kinetic energy. Dance is traditionally a fleeting art form, but the technology of video enables its repetition—and the advent of short, looping videos further transforms it into a repeatable medium. Has dance been irreversibly altered by these innovations? If so, for better or worse? What does it mean to be a dancer in 2018 versus 1998, 1908? These are questions that do not occupy our author, and are left as exercises for the reader.
I’m most obsessed with the part however when the song says “you got a boyfriend…” and she is kind of bobbing her way gracefully towards the camera. The way she moves most of her entire body when walking is really satisfying. She even does it to the beat of the song. And if also like to point out her shoulder movements throughout most of the video. They add a lot more energy to her movements.
Giving specific examples to bolster his argument, the author emphasizes the ways that the dancer elevates her performance.
On that note, that leads us to my third point: the song and how she utilizes the song to compliment her movement. This song and lyrics itself are not that great, but the woman singing the song sings it well.
Here the author introduces another argument—that it is not the raw materials that matter, but the hands that shape them. Visual artists are frequently asked what pencils they use, but appropriating the tools of a master is no substitute for hard work and dedication. A true artist can create beauty from even the most humble materials.
That however, is not the reason why this matters though. The voice of the actual singer really fits the girl in the video. It not only compliments her cosplay (making it cuter), but also compliments her dancing. As I mentioned earlier, the way she moves is simply satisfying to watch, and part of that is because of how seamlessly and smoothly she move to the song.
Returning to the theme of movement, perhaps unnecessarily—the author has already made this point, but nonetheless feels it is important to return to. A brief note on the performer’s costume, which otherwise goes unremarked upon. Our author is a connoisseur of rhythm, not of static fashion. Again we return to the question of materials—a discussion of the performer’s clothing is unnecessary, as it is not the particular items but how they are worn that matters.
The spinning at the beginning goes very well with the chorus ending in the background. That little booping of her chest after the spin I mentioned earlier is timed when the rapper makes a rapper sound that transitions into the girls part (what does he even say? Is it like “bite” or “bye” or something? Idek) makes it mesmerizing and satisfying to watch. Her head boops are very well timed too.
“Booping” is a verb most commonly associated with the act of touching a cat’s nose. While this act is irresistible to many, cats typically find it irritating at best. What does the author mean by using it in this context? Perhaps he seeks to subtly reference the performer’s catlike grace. The term “rapper sound,” of course, is universally known and requires no explanation.
When the song says “hit or miss” as well as the “huh” after, she moves her head slightly too the beat that makes it better than had she not of moved her head. And then the little bopping/walking thing she does that I mentioned earlier, is so perfectly timed to the beat and the words of the song.
The author remarks upon the singer’s knowledge of timing—dance is, after all, as much about the absence of movement as it is about movement itself
And then my last point, is her facial expressions. Obviously, she has a beautiful face, but there are smaller things she does that bring out some of her key features. The way her eyebrows move is one. She raises them a bit to help her eyes look bigger at some points. Her smile is simply a work of art. It’s just very, very pretty and natural. Not much I can say on it. It just makes people happy.
Again, it is not merely that the performer is in possession of some asset—in this case, a captivating visage—but how she employs it. Humans are adept at reading emotional states via facial expression, often even across cultural and linguistic divides. And yet the conscious manipulation of one’s features to convey a particular feeling in the audience is a subtle art. We might call it the dancing of the face.
Well actually, that wasn’t my last point. I found myself watching the video and getting sad that it ended because it’s mesmerizing to watch. Than I realized that each time it repeated, I was hoping that it wouldn’t cut off at the end, thus rewatching it thinking, maybe there is more. This is probably because the song cuts at the end, leaving a feeling of incompleteness to the video, making me want to rewatch it to find the completeness (if that makes sense) because it stops in the middle of a song and her dance move, you feel as if there is more, making you want to rewatch it under the illusion that there is more… I guess.
We return to our initial questions about the repeatability of dance. Looping video, made possible by the infrastructure of high-speed internet connections and popularized via the omnipresence of smartphones, has changed the world of performance. What we might call “Vine timing”—the cutting off of a video before the end of a sentence or gesture—is perhaps the greatest comedic innovation of the last ten years. This timing contrasts with the “perfect loop” of a similar medium, the animated GIF. Shortform video operates on a fundamentally different rhythm, and here the author notes the melancholy that this hard cut—bringing with it the separation anxiety of childhood—can induce.
Omg perfect timing. I literally started typing this at around 30 minutes and it finished when I finished my last sentence. Well than, yeah. I guess I’m done. I might of repeated myself a bit but I was trying to get the point across. I hope I helped people understand why they kept watching the video, and why they feel mesmerized by this girl.
Finally, a masterful reveal—the author has been watching this video all the while he has been composing this piece. As his work concludes, the video does as well. At last, our author leaves us with a simple wish—that we now better understand not just him, but ourselves as well.
And, after all, that is the goal of all writing.