Joy’s Rant List Volume 58: Own Your Shit

The worst invention in the history of this planet is the modern toilet.

Joy – wtf.  How is a TOILET the worst invention in history?  Not the nuclear bomb? Not the many versions of biological weapons? Not the Twinkie?

NO.poop

The toilet is the worst invention of all time because it was the toilet that taught people how to ignore their own shit.

(Warning: I use the word ‘shit’ 35 more times in this blog.  Just FYI)

Before there were ‘water closets’, people had to squat over a chamber pot, or go outside to the outhouse, or straddle a latrine.  The smell was awful, I’m sure.  And you had to pick up that chamber pot and dispose of it outside – unless you were already outside with one of the other methods.  Suffice it to say, before the advent of the flushable toilet, there was no getting away from what you had pushed forth into the world.  Everyone knew what you had just done, and people dealt with it.  You couldn’t flush it away and pretend it didn’t happen.

YOU HAD TO OWN YOUR SHIT.

But once the flushable toilet was created, people were able to squat over the bowl and then just pull a handle and voila! – no more shit.  Nothing to have to dispose of outside, nothing leaving a constant lasting stench in the corner of the room.  No evidence of your actions, except maybe a lingering whiff, so no one but you knew what you did.  Like the saying goes: if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, did it happen? By that logic: if you take a shit and no one sees or smells it, did the shit ever happen?  The flushable toilet was the first worldwide example of humans avoiding the consequences of their actions. Once this happened, people started to do this in other areas of life.  If nobody saw it, it didn’t happen.  And if somebody caught a ‘whiff’ that something was off, you could pretend that they were just imagining it, and deny, deny, deny:

“Did you just take a shit?”

“Do you smell shit?”

“No. It smells like roses… and something else – “

“Well if you don’t smell shit then there is no shit, so stop asking stupid questions.” 

You could argue that Air Freshener was the first known method of gaslighting someone.

 Being able to flush your shit away, never to be seen again, had other unforeseen consequences.  The ability to not see or smell your own shit made people start to think that their shit didn’t stink. This is the foundation of hypocrisy: condemning someone else for something that you have also done.  Hypocrisy leads to a lack of empathy.  In the human experiment with eye color, conducted by the national treasure and renowned researcher Jane Elliott, you see blue-eyed children – who have been told they are ‘better’ – turn hostile and start bullying the children with brown eyes. They were little assholes, because they thought their shit didn’t stink.  They thought they were better than their brown-eyed fellow students.  Some of the brown-eyed kids cried and were traumatized.  But when the experiment turned a full 180 and now the blue-eyed kids were on the lower social standing, they immediately began to cry and despair.  Why?  Because they were afraid that the brown-eyed kids would treat them the same way they had gotten treated earlier.  The blue-eyed kids feared being ‘downstream’, because they knew how badly they had acted when they were ‘upstream’.  Now here is the most interesting part of the experiment: the brown-eyed kids were not NEARLY as cruel to the blue-eyed kids, once they were put on top in the experiment. Why didn’t they take the chance to get revenge?  BECAUSE THEY KNEW WHAT IT FELT LIKE TO BE ON THE RECEIVING END.  And they couldn’t bring themselves to do that to someone else.  They’d been there, and they could empathize.

The world needs more empathy.

A lack of empathy is what leads to contempt of others and their situation.  You haven’t smelled your own shit in so long, that you now have nothing but disgust for people who still use outhouses.  We dehumanize anyone who doesn’t have the same advantages in life that we have.  We call them ‘animals’ or ‘savages’, when really, they’re just humans going through some shit.  We pass homeless people on the street and maybe we feel sorry for them but at the same time we are mightily offended by their smell. Don’t try to act like you aren’t. They smell like shit, but they shit the same as you – you just forgot what it was like to have to deal with it.  You think you are better than someone else because you have access to water or air freshener? GTFOH.

Would you even start some of the shit you have started in life, if you had to deal with all of the results? Would you really super-size your meal or stuff an entire Chipotle burrito in your mouth if you knew you had to deal with it again at the exit? Think of all the times you picked a fight and walked away, or told a ‘white lie’ to a friend, or let someone believe a lie because it benefitted you.  Did you ever consider what would go on downstream?  Would those choices be worth it?  What if you had to be down there to catch all the shit you had been slinging over the years? 

In the words of R&B legend and national treasure James Brown: “Don’t start none, won’t be none.”

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am talking about the world having a general lack of personal accountability.  We, as a species, have learned how to cast blame instead of take blame.  We fart and blame it on the dog.  Or we do a half-assed job at work and then file a lawsuit when we get fired.  Or we skip class and then snapchat about how unfair it is that the final exam is in another building.  We punch a child in the face and then cry about how the child hurt our hand.  We make excuses.  We murder innocent citizens and then blame them for getting in the way of the bullets.  We ruin lives and end careers by lying or covering up a crime.  We rape women, men, and children and then excuse it because “it’s in the past”. We already flushed that away. And then we have the nerve to get offended if we are ever reminded of our past transgressions – “why’re you bringing up old shit?”

Sooner or later, the chickens will come home to roost, the dog will have its day, you will reap what you sow, and the shit will hit the fan.  IT ALWAYS DOES. Toilets do back up.  It may not be today or tomorrow.  It might be generations from now.  Just know that it will happen.  And then, what will you do?  Everyone knows that once the toilet is broken, everything else in the house stops. The amount of energy, pain, inconvenience, anger, frustration, and disinfectant that it takes to remedy a backed-up toilet makes you think in the moment: “I don’t ever want to be in this situation again.”

But what if everyone disposed of their own shit?  Handled it from colon to grave?  What if we dealt with our shit and actually tried to make the most of it? What if we ate only what we needed to live and then composted our refuse to keep the soil viable for the future?  Turned it into biofuel?  Used it as fertilizer like in the movie The Martian?  Have we thought about how we are shitting on the planet?  Shitting on the future? Shitting on each other?  I don’t want to go back to latrines and out houses.  I’m not saying we should get rid of toilets. THAT WAS AN EXTENDED METAPHOR.  What I AM saying is that we all need to be more aware of what we push forth into the world, and think about the consequences of our actions.  The Golden Rule says, ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.  I want to take that further. Eat like you have to clean the bathroom.

Shit like you’re the one that lives downstream.

keep calmSo what have we learned today? Avoiding your own shit makes you a horrible person.  Learn to deal with your own shit, and stop shitting on other people. The world is a sphere, so sooner or later, you WILL be downstream.  And when that happens, you will wish everyone else dealt with their own shit.  So be the change you want to see.

In 2018: Don’t start none, won’t be none.

Rant 58 done, and I’m out.

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Joy’s Rant List, Volume 57: My Celebrity Crush is Better than Yours

What’s good people!  I am dedicating this rant to two groups of people: my friends and family who can’t for the life of them understand what fuels my current obsession with Les Twins, and the Les Twins Clique – my Instagram family of fellow Les Twins fans – THEY GET ME AND I GET THEM. What most fans will tell you about the Twins is that they deeply affected their lives at a point in time that really mattered. That is my experience too. Let me explain…

In the last year I have traveled to Iceland, Costa Rica, Belize, and countless other little fun weekend things. Sounds exciting, right? Don’t be fooled.  One of the reasons I traveled so much is that I was becoming depressed.  So I tried to ‘travel it away’ – and I was also low-key looking for an escape plan if the shit hit the fan in the US. I have not felt … at home … in my own country for about a year now.  (Yes, you are assuming the right reasons.)  None of the things I loved were making me happy anymore.  I love video games, but somehow PlayStation became stale. I love to travel, but it was always over too quickly, and I didn’t want to come back. I basically just disconnected from everything.  Nobody knew this, but I was truly struggling with caring about, or being interested in anything…

And then NBC’s World of Dance came on the air.  And Larry and Laurent Nicolas Bourgeois blew my freaking mind.

WOD 1

I’ve always loved dance competitions and yes, I watch them all.  SYTYCD, DWTS, ABDC, random YouTube dance videos, you name it.  But when WOD came out, I heard that Les Twins were competing. My first thought was: “Is that even fair? Aren’t they, like, professionals or something?” They are.  But so were Fikshun, Kinjas, Keone and Mari, and hell, the Jabbawockeez have their own show in Vegas.  At the million-dollar level, everybody’s in! I won’t bore you with the details, just know that Les Twins won the show.  And they deserved to win and if you say something else I will come to your house and fight you in your face!  

Anyway… I fell in love with Les Twins on this show.  I had seen them before, but hadn’t really connected with them until now.  I love good choreography, and I had been expecting them to be good, but not a “HOLY SH…” level of good.  Normally, hip-hop dancers cannot evoke the level of emotion that you can get from ballet or contemporary dance.  Either the music doesn’t lend itself to that, or the dance moves are one-dimensional.  A pop-lock is always going to be a pop-lock. A windmill is always going to be a windmill, I don’t care how much you change up the music.  You can break dance to Celine Dione and it still just won’t convey emotion. (Sidebar: this is why every other hip-hop act got eliminated in WOD this year.) But Les Twins convey emotion VERY well.  The reason that they can do this so well is the same reason that some people don’t “get” them.

They are not ‘dancers’.  Ask them and they will tell you.  They are creators of urban movement. Think of them as “lyrical” hip-hop dancers. The moves they create are their interpretation of the melody and beat in the music. They don’t use many steps that have names, and they are self-taught.  They make up their own moves based on the song. Their ability to move their bodies in ways that nobody else has thought of – that’s what makes them artists. These two guys came on stage and made me FEEL something, using a song I had not heard before, and expressing themselves with original movement.  (Side note – they did put a windmill in their choreography, but I strongly suspect that it was less for the content of the dance and more to just prove they could do it.  LOL)

And then Laurent gives this speech about how his girlfriend left him, and that’s how they came up with the routine… SQUEAL!  I was done! Suddenly, I cared about what these guys were doing.

So, I won’t bore you further with the minutiae of how I became a ‘stan’ for Les Twins. It has everything to do with YouTube. If you want to gain a comprehensive understanding of who they are, just go to YouTube and look for their channel, or YakFilms, or LBF Channel, or LestwinsPlaylists or dozens of others.

Now this is where my friends became annoyed.  I spent 100’s of hours watching the Twins on YouTube after that first performance.  I even tried to make some of my friends watch their performances, hoping they would feel what I felt, but all I got was “Hmmm, that’s cute,” and “I saw them before with Beyoncé.” None of them were into it!  But then again, none of them are into dance the way I am either.  (Shrug)  But when I got on Instagram and started posting Twins-related stuff, I got an earful of “Why are you so obsessed over them?”

If you ask anyone in the LT Clique why we spend so much time obsessing over these guys, it’s simple. Watching them makes us happy.  It makes me smile.  It was watching them bring music to life through interpretive dance that pulled me out of my depressed state. I escaped into Les Twins.  They were my cure to a bad day or a sad day. Trouble at work?  Watch Their 2010 performance.  Sad about something? Watch their Ukraine SYTYCD performance.  Can’t get motivated to get out of bed? Watch their 2014 WOD performance.  hangout

Can’t sleep? Watch one of their ‘Hangouts’, where they just sit and answer questions and are generally just adorable, with their broken English and constant bickering (omg it’s so cute!!!)

 

Many days, I was mad at the world because the president of my country – where I was born and where members of my family serve in the military – thinks all POC are either ‘sons of bitches’, ‘rapists and murderers’, ‘terrorists’, ‘lazy welfare queens’… Sigh… I think that is what broke me down the most.  After Nov 2016, I just felt like my own country told me to go “get my black ass back in the kitchen and serve dinner”.  But watching these two gorgeous kids dance around and give ZERO FUCKS about what anybody had to say to them just gives me LIFE!  And furthermore, seeing them stay true to themselves and become so successful doing what they love makes me proud.  I feel pride like I’m their auntie, or older sister. Proud because they look like me, and they are amazing.

If you know me, you know that I am a big proponent of the idea that REPRESENTATION MATTERS.  Seeing images and videos of people that look just like you, doing GOOD things (not getting shot or going to jail) makes you feel better about yourself.  It makes you think that maybe you can do that – or maybe you can be first to do something else.  It’s just like having Obama as president.  Because of him, there are millions of little black kids all over the country that think they can be president, too. And because of Les Twins, hundreds of little boys across the country are finding that it’s okay to be a professional dancer.

Another reason I love them is their brotherly bond. They display open affection for each other and it is marvelous. In the US today, dance is not something that we encourage little boys to do.  I won’t go into the whole ‘toxic masculinity’ issue because frankly I’m tired of explaining it.  It has gotten so bad here that a young man or teenage boy can’t hug another boy, or show love to his male relatives, without being called ‘gay’. (I freaking hate that SO much).  But these two French dancers are sweet, funny, and affectionate with each other – like brothers SHOULD BE.  And despite being totally comfortable expressing their feminine side, they are beyond sexy!!  At least 85% of their fan base is female.  They are French models, after all.  It’s damn near impossible to Google ‘Les Twins’ and not find a picture of them looking sexy – they are a walking, talking, thirst trap. And they know this.  If you watch them closely, you can see that it’s all just funny to them (flirtatious asses). They need a spanking MOST of the time.  😊

Now you can begin to understand that when I speak about the Twins, it’s in the voice of an aunt talking about her favorite new nephews. In other words, if I can look at pictures of your kids online every day, for the last 5 years, you can tolerate my occasional posts about MY babies!!! True, they are grown men, and drop-dead gorgeous, but to me they are just adorable!  They are like golden-skinned dancing angels… that you probably want to bang.  I’m just saying – I recognize it.  But that’s not my true interest in them.  One person online asked “If you had the Twins alone for an hour, what would you do to make them remember you?” That’s easy: feed Larry, and beat Laurent at Tekken.  Like any good auntie should do. 😊

What really keeps my obsession alive is the other fans though.  Instagram is a worse time suck than Facebook or Twitter.  I’ve made a gang of friends on IG from following Les Twins, and most of them are all grown women with boyfriends/husbands, day jobs, and teenage children.  We are a support group for each other, because our other friends don’t understand us.  Each woman that I talk to has a story about how these boys touched their soul.  Deaths in the family, bad divorces, losses of home and jobs, family trouble – you name it.  All of us had something going on that our friends and family couldn’t reach, and somehow, Les Twins and their love of dance pulled us through.  And now we love us some Larry and Laurent!

Unfortunately, our significant others have had ENOUGH of our shenanigans!!  My friend Shannon told me that her husband is so vexed about her obsession with the Twins that he won’t even call them by their names.  He calls them Lefreqent or Lafro or Lefondue!! LOL!  She said he was cool with it for a while but eventually he got to the place where he didn’t want to hear another word about ‘those frenchies’.  LOL!!

When I started writing this blog, I struggled with what I wanted to talk about, and my boyfriend asked me point blank: “why DO you like them so much?” I couldn’t tell him exactly why at first. I told him about their brotherly bond.  He said, “So what? I hug my brother all the time, just nobody films it.”  I told him about how they live fearlessly.  He is a marine, so he side-eyed me SO hard on that comment.  Then he brought up a good point, so I had to quote him.

“The Twins had a marketable natural skillset that was unique to them, and they capitalized on it.  That’s what everyone wants to do in life.  Get paid to do what they love.  They had nothing to lose when they started, so why not dare to dream big?” And you know what? He’s right!!  Larry and Laurent had nothing to lose and nowhere to go but up when they first started. But instead of just getting some boring day job, they took a huge risk and chased their dream.  Most of us wish we’d had the courage to do the same when we were 17 years old.

The Twins also have great taste in music and have helped me discover a whole new generation of artists that I can support – 6lack, Syd, Troyboi, KidtheWiz, and more.  These boys know good music.  Even my boyfriend (who is a music connoisseur) liked some of the music that they found for me.  He hated how I found it though.  It went something like this.

Him: This is a good song.  What’s the album?

Me: 99.9% by Kaytranada.

Him: And how did you find this?

Me: ….um…

Him: Why are you hesitating? Just say it.

Me: Sooooo, the Twins danced to –

Him: I should have known.

(He happens to look down at my phone as the lock screen comes on)

Him: Ewwww, you got them on your phone too? Arrrrghh!!!  (walks off)

(Don’t worry, I made it up to him… 😉)

So, in summary, I love Laurent and Larry because they are the nephews I wish I had, and I have become invested in seeing them succeed, like any supportive family member.  The way they move is captivating.  And it’s not about the way they LOOK.  It’s about how they interpret the sounds in the music to make you HEAR it differently.  In some of their older performances online I have seen them dance to Missy Elliot, Dr. Dre and Busta Rhymes. Those are MY people. I KNOW their music catalogs.  And yet, I’m hearing little sounds and effects in these songs that I’ve never heard before. Why? Because Lau and Larry heard it and choreographed to that specific sound effect.  And now I will never listen to those songs the same again.  THAT. IS. GENIUS. And that also explains to me why I got on a plane to see them.  I don’t even like concerts like that.  I’ve only paid money and flown to another city to see Prince and Stevie Wonder. And now Larry and Laurent. True geniuses.

Wait, back up, Joy. Did you say you got on a plane to go see them?  YES!  I went to their dance workshop in Atlanta.  I flew in for the weekend just so I could meet them.  I didn’t even get a dancer’s ticket.  I was a spectator.  I didn’t dance because I had both my knees replaced this year (one last week!).  Clearly, I am on the bench.  For the month before I went to the workshop, I had all of these ideas about what I was going to say to Lau (the beautiful one) and Larry (the adorable one).  I was going to give them big hugs and tell Larry I was proud of him for taking care of his brother while he was injured.  I was going to tell Laurent that I was proud of him for building his empire, but that he needed to rest his body because everyone has their limits. I was going to show him my knee surgery scar and warn him what can happen when you don’t take care of yourself.  I got them birthday presents and I was going to hand them these gift bags and explain what was in them and they were going to be so happy. And we were going to hug and be buddies.  LOL

Let me tell you right now: I BLEW ALL OF THAT.

As I waited for them to show up and have my turn at the meet and greet, I had my presents ready! Then when it was my turn to meet them and take a picture, I put all my stuff down, so I could run up there and hug them and tell them everything I wanted them to know.  As I walk up to them, Laurent opens his arms and I give him a hug.  When I tell you that I buried my WHOLE FACE in this dude’s chest… LMAO!!!  And then I hugged Larry – and I was supposed to give him shit for this stunt he pulled with his limited-edition hoodies.  But I DIDN’T SAY ANYTHING!  I was so star-struck!  I totally forgot to do everything l had planned to do!  I didn’t say a single word to Laurent.  And after hugging Larry I told him “I have a present for you both!” Then I walked away and DIDN’T GIVE THEM THE PRESENTS!  I had to get one of their people to take it to them after the fact, since I was a slack-jawed idiot. Joy!!! WTF!!  Get your shit together girl!! I’ve met celebrities before, but for some reason I just blanked! Here is the killer: I am in sales, I’m an actress, and I am a writer.  I KNOW HOW TO USE WORDS, DAMMIT. What the hell happened?  Sigh.  Okay, next time I will do better.

Me and the Twins!

I look good though.

Anyway, the workshop starts, and they split up the dancers and start going over what they will teach.  They choreograph on the spot – so you get to see them as they create the dance.  That’s pretty freaking cool.  It means every workshop has a unique dance to go with it.  But once they start the dance class, the difference between Laurent and Larry becomes obvious: Larry is there to teach a few steps and have fun, and Laurent DID NOT COME TO PLAY!!  He is so intense!  Like, you can feel the intensity from the back where I was sitting.  He made it clear that he was not messing around.  He had no patience for nonsense. And I understand this mentality.  My patience is short when I am in pain too, and Laurent was in pain. This man has had injuries by the pound this year, yet he is still out here dancing for the delight of his fans.  That’s love. If it were me, I would have told everyone to kick rocks. It would have been a workshop with Le Twin – Larry, because I’d have been at home! LOL

As the dance class starts in earnest, I realize that being a spectator kind of sucks.  I’m not close enough!!  I want to dance with them and be a part of the magic. But I am very self-aware, and I knew better.  These workshops are recorded and put up on YouTube. What will NEVER happen is the world seeing my crippled ass struggling through this choreography like a graceless three-legged English bulldog.  Nope! No sir!!  I wish I could have danced and gotten into it, but watching them from the cheap seats was still a good experience. Furthermore, I realized that the true magic of the workshop was the KIDS.  What Larry and Laurent are doing is encouraging young boys and girls to see dance as a viable lifestyle, not just something you do at home or in the club.  They are giving people confidence, encouragement, love, patience, energy… The real benefit of being at this workshop can be seen in these pictures:

IMG_5013       IMG_5079

This is my friend Shannon’s daughter. Taylar is a dancer, and when there was a free moment she jumped into the Cypher.  Her life was MADE when Laurent jumped out and started freestyling with her.  Look at the shock and joy on her face!  Standardized tests can’t do that.  And as the US starts to squeeze the arts out of school, opportunities like this become more and more crucial.  Les Twins are doing their part to keep the arts alive.

IMG_5074

This little baby is my friend Michelle’s son.  He has been waiting forever to show Larry and Laurent his dance moves. When the freestyle cypher started, he surprised her and ran out there all on his own – and was rewarded with a dance with Laurent too!  These kids both struggle with being shy or having confidence, and because they took a chance on sharing their talent with a room full of strangers, they got to get up close and personal with their idols.  It doesn’t get any better than this.

 

In interviews, Laurent and Larry have both talked about wanting to get more people to follow their passion – no matter what it is.  It was listening to this encouragement that finally got me to start writing again.  It started with a quick Halloween story about them, and hopefully will end with me publishing a full length science fiction novel.  I’m going to do what I love.  (I’m not going to quit my day job though because – bills.)

Now, here’s what else makes these guys special.  They love their fans.  It’s easy for celebrities to say that, but not all of them SHOW it.  Larry and Laurent take as much time as they can to give as many pictures and autographs as they can to the fans.  They don’t turn anybody down.  Laurent had to be dragged away by the event planner.  I know because I was right there, trying to articulate that I had given my present for them to one of their staff. I think I said something stupid like: “The present that you don’t know who it came from, that’s from me.  Don’t throw it away.”  Again – WTF, Joy?!? LOL.  I have no idea why I said that.  But let me tell you how FREAKING COOL this man is.  Since he wasn’t sure what I was talking about (neither of us was) and he knew it had something to do with the presents he got, he made sure to do an Instagram story with clips of them opening all the presents – including mine! YAY! They got it!

IMG_5166And as a bonus, he took a picture with one of the bracelets that he got from my homie Shannon, and she was beyond excited to see something she made for him on his wrist!  How cool is that?!? They are the sweetest guys!!

And if you thought my obsession was over, you are very wrong. I’m not giving up my babies!  They are just getting started!  And before you open your mouth and ask me why I would spend all my hard-earned money on a couple of French dancers, ask yourself these questions:

Have you spent money on a professional sports game? Have you bought concert tickets to see Bruno Mars, or Taylor Swift, or Jay Z, or whomever? Well, Les Twins are my choice of celebrity crush, and I will spend money to see them when I feel like it.  Did you get a hug from Taylor Swift or Bruno Mars? No? Well I got TWO hugs.  So STFU.  I told you – they make me smile.

Look at my babies! 😊 twins-world-of-dance-winners-ftr

Rant 57 Done, and I’m out!