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'Twerking': The pornification of the culture

May 03, 2013|By Robin Abcarian

You may not have heard the term “twerking” before now, but you’ve probably seen it.

It’s the charmless, stripper-inspired move that involves shaking one’s booty as fast as possible, while crouching or in a handstand position.

It’s all over YouTube, especially in an “Official Twerk Team” video with explicit and expletive-laced lyrics that’s been watched millions of times. 

Today, my colleague Tony Perry reported that more than 30 students at Scripps Ranch High School have been suspended for making a twerking video and setting it to music with crude lyrics.

It’s not the end of civilization, but it’s pretty strong evidence that the pornification of the culture is so pervasive that high school kids can make a sexually suggestive video on campus, then post it on YouTube and seem kind of miffed when adults rap their knuckles.

“Nobody was offended or anything,” said Lyston McNair, the 17-year-old senior who told the San Diego Union-Tribune he came up with the idea for the video but did not participate in producing it. “It was like, ‘Oh, that’s cool.’”

But the video, according to reports, violated the school’s policy against sexually suggestive conduct. Some of the students and their parents told reporters that they may not be allowed to attend their prom or walk in their graduation.

Dear me. I hope that’s not true. What a silly overreaction that would be. A reiteration of the rules and a stern talking to should suffice.

A member of the San Diego school board Trustee Scott Barnett told The Times he plans to bring up the matter in a closed-door board session on May 14. “I take issues of proper conduct and discipline very seriously,” he said. “At the same time, I need to be satisfied that the consequences of these actions are reasonable and proportionate.”

Meanwhile, the story has been picked up all over the country. Coming as it does at the start of prom and graduation season, it’s catnip for the media. 

Students, bless them, are already rebelling at the attention. (You have to marvel at the naivete of these kids, posting a semi-nasty video on YouTube, then thinking only their friends would see it. As if teachers can’t use the Interwebs. Someone get them a Snapchat lesson.)

One Scripps Ranch student asked on Twitter whether “anyone else” had been invited to appear on the “Today” show. “The whole thing is blowing out of proportion,” she wrote.

On Wednesday, the Twitter account that apparently belongs to the student who came up with the idea, @UncleLyston, seemed philosophical about his suspension: “Live by the twerk Die by the twerk.”

By Thursday, he seemed to have had enough: “So ready for school.”

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Twitter: @robinabcarian

Email: robin.abcarian@latimes.com

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