Sunday, September 20, 2009

America's Best "Periphery": Island dance crews redefine America

The banner has fallen for the Massive Monkees in the 4th season of America's Best Dance Crew. The crew has once again inspired a whole demographic of young Filipino Americans and b-boy/girls. Furthermore, they help gave Seattle a bigger, bolder, well-deserved rep in the hip hop game.

With an obvious domination of Fil Am champions on the show, every season so far has captured the imagination of Filipinos and definitely impacted their respective dance choreography. This year will be the only year to not feature a Filipino in the last round; Afroborike and We Are Heroes will battle it out in the finale.

We can't say there is a definite Filipino, Asian, or b-boy fatigue on ABDC because each crew definitely put in work to prove themselves, but we'll miss the MM's and want to congratulate them and their tremendous success on the show.

Critical questions:

Who would have thought fans of U.S. popular culture would usher in a group of mostly Puerto Rican dancers (one is Cuban) as perhaps America's best?

Who would have thought that four Filipino guys, a Cambodian fella, and a Black dude would represent the desire of a whole generation of young people in the U.S.?

This show is interesting in that it gives a visual representation of the varying meanings of "America's best..." I've written about it before, but the Puerto Rican and Filipino fetish this show has raises stimulating questions about the U.S.'s island colonies and their role in U.S. mainstream culture. The colonized strut, flip, and strike poses on stage, constantly challenging the "center" of America as they invigorate the imagination of a new, young MTV generation.

The islands are erupting on the American continent.

This MTV generation might find the Latin-flavor of Afroborike worthy of ABDC champ-status, but We Are Heroes will take it this season. If they don't, it's good to see some ladies (from either crew) finally crowned.

Season 5, Pinoys and Pinays get ready! We hope to see you on stage once more! (East Coast, Midwest, South stand up!!)


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