John Green explains his recent (failed) attempt at making a TikTok dance video and ponders why his brother, Hank, is a better dancer than him.
Publish Date: Mar 25, 2021
Yes. All right. Let's ask you some questions from our listeners. Beginning with this one from Marina, who writes dear John and Hank. How can I learn how to dance? I'm okay, like circle dancing or line dancing, But I can't seem to get the whole put my hands in the air like I just don't care kind of dancing arena. Now, Hank, this is relevant to me as well Because one of the stranger things to me about our sibling hood is that although we were raised in the same home by the same parents, you were named the best dancer at all of Winter Park High School in 1998. And I have never had a good moment of dancing in my entire life. Like I tried to do a tick tock dance. What do they call challenge? Yeah, I thought it would be really funny. Well, I didn't. God knows I didn't actually upload the tiktok egg, you know, having someone sticking with my one tick tock. But I tried to do a tick tock dance challenge just to be like Okay, like, this is just a series of repeated body motions, and I know how to make all of them. So I should be able to do this tiktok dance challenge in a way that looks as cool as this person who I'm watching on Tiktok. And then I did a video of myself doing the dance and I watched the video and I was like, No, that's terrible. Delete that immediately like I did all the right motions, Put it in the fire. But I was terrible. Yeah, well, I mean, there's a couple of there's a couple of reasons why it might might have not looked great. I you know, I think that there's a point here that is interesting to me that we, you know, theoretically share a lot of genetic information, and we were raised in the same house. But I have to ask, how much MTV s the grind did you watch? Not a lot. And we did have very different lives to be fair, and maybe that's part of it. But I hear the music and the music flows through me. It's just that, like what comes out bodily is all wrong. Like in college. I dated a dance major for a while, and it was fascinating to learn from them how like dance worked in their lives and how like dance became like a bodily expression of art not dissimilar to any other artistic expression. Whereas, like to me, dancing is just It's the height of self consciousness. Like I'm never more aware of the fact that I have a body than I am when I'm dancing. Yeah, and and as I've gotten older and my my body doesn't always move at the speed that I expect it to, I get I'm having that sensation more as well. And also, I will watch what happens in tiktok dances, and I will think to myself Well, I should be able to do that. And then I find that I am incapable of it, Which makes me think that actually, I learned a lot more than I think I did that I, you know, in the process of watching people dance on my television upstairs in Florida and like dancing along with them, I learned a lot about how to move my body. Can I tell you what the tick tock dance was? Which one was It was the cars that go boom. It wasn't cars that go boom, although it is lovely to me that one of the songs of our childhood cars that go boom has become a tick tock phenomenon. No, it was the hokey pokey. You know where you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around and that's what it's all about. You put your left foot in your right foot out. Whatever I've heard of that, I've heard it. So it really should have been doable, right? Like it wasn't like I was, like, trying to accomplish, you know, some kind of balletic feet. What was going through your mind when you set your camera up to record yourself doing the hokey poke? Did you think you were potentially making content? No, no, no, no, no. Of course not. No, I was never going to upload it to tick tock. I was just interested in, like, could I do the dance? And I don't know if I can do the dance until I look at the video and then and then I know. And the answer was, uh, you know, I think that, like, different people do start at different levels. I think this is definitely the case with dancing, but in general on the Internet, especially, but also all over our lives. We will watch people who look like they are doing things extremely effortlessly that they actually put a lot of time into. And maybe that was fun time, maybe like that was dancing and and not training like not like feeling and seeming like work to them. But a lot of time did go into that. And that's true of whether it's, you know, poetry or dance or art or novels or any of that stuff like video blogs. Uh, and I think that in some cases we actually intentionally try to make it seem like very little work went into something when actually a lot of time did right. That's a very particular aesthetic, and not just on the Internet. It also predates the Internet of putting a lot of effort into something that looks dashed off or looks effortless. Um, like I remember as a kid, thinking like that was, in a way, the definition of cool. You know, it was people who were able to do something where it looked like they weren't trying hard, but it was very good. But of course the only way to do Something very good is to have previously tried very, very hard. Yeah, Yeah, in in quiet darkness of your bedroom in Orlando, Florida. Which is why I was trying to learn the hokey pokey. But now I've given up. Okay, well, that's you're good at LA.