Thursday, December 6, 2012

In defense of "Spartan Style"

Last night I saw a former co-worker post on Facebook about a video that was made by students at my former district called "Spartan Style", a parody of Korean singer Psy's "Gangnam Style" hit video. The student video, like the original, has gone viral. However, unlike it's predecessor, this work has been labeled the worst video on the Internet. Why?

I'll admit I was a bit biased when I watched the video. I have obviously seen other student created videos in the years I worked at Garden Spot and was curious to see how this group of students did. I enjoyed seeing former co-workers and students getting in on the fun and creating a video that was supposed to promote school spirit. Was it the highest quality production and the best student parody of "Gangnam Style" I have seen? No. But it was a STUDENT PRODUCTION. What I saw was creativity (original lyrics), school spirit (was not surprised at admin, faculty and staff participation), and courage (as much as I love my students you are most likely NOT going to get me on film doing that). Others have expressed different opinions.

On November 21, 2012, a user by the name of Cym4tic uploaded the video to YouTube, posting "THIS IS NOT MY VIDEO. This is from my high school. And I hate my high school, so no shame. Feel free to hate it and share it with the world!". This warm invitation led to the video going viral and the following headlines:

What Hath Psy Wrought: PA High School’s ‘Gangnam Style’ Parody Dubbed ‘Worst Video on the Entire Internet’ (Gawker.com)

Garden Spot High School's 'Spartan Style' video goes viral on Internet (Lancaster Newspapers)

Internet Proclaims This the Worst Video Ever (Mashable.com)

And this one with the time-stamped snarky commentary. Can you really hate the video that much to spend time doing this?

I was appalled when I saw the headlines on international news outlets screaming that this was the worst video on the Internet.  And who determined this? The ANONYMOUS user who uploaded the video. I must disagree - I have seen worse. It appears to me that the "journalism" involved in these headlines is no more than jumping on a bandwagon of cruelty. The investigative reporting is further evident on the number of articles that get the name of the high school wrong (Spartan is the mascot, not name of the school, which a simple Google search would turn up). 

This whole event appears to me to be a reflection of our current society. Rather than say, "Hey, good for them. It took a lot of work and representatives from the whole school came together to entertain and promote school spirit. "A" for effort.", many ANONYMOUS people would rather post negative comments online. Watching teachers, administrators and support staff willing to go the extra mile for Garden Spot students - including dancing in a video - was not shocking to me because I witnessed that dedication repeatedly in my time there. In an era of budget cuts, staff reductions, a constant barrage of negative articles on public education, and high stakes standardized testing, we NEED videos like this. The fact that there is still a high school class where students can be creative and not just prepped to fill in dots on a high stakes testing is commendable. Opportunities like this are quickly disappearing as art, music, technology education, family and consumer science, and libraries are being eliminated from our schools. 

I want all participants to know that I enjoyed the hard work they put into this production. And that comment isn't ANONYMOUS.

Steph Sweeney


44 comments:

  1. I think it is wonderful that so many students, teachers and administrators got together to create this video. It is obvious that a lot of work went into it and everyone appears to be enjoying the experience. It is not an Oscar winner, but I applaud the participants for their efforts.

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    1. Ditto - I really just want to say what you just said. Good for them and they do look like they are having fun!

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  2. There are always people who are going to be negative, so take their comments with a grain salt.
    Your video shows great school spirit & commitment from both students and staff.

    Kudos for all of you!
    Mrs. Johnson
    BHHS Librarian

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  3. I agree with you - this is not the worst video on the internet. But more importantly, the students made it for internal use - it wasn't their idea nor initiative to "publish" it on the internet and thus open themselves up to ridicule. There should be a protocol (beyond common sense and compassion) that would make it a rule that one can only post to YouTube videos that s/he had a direct part in producing.

    Laurie Williams, Falk School, Pittsburgh PA

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  4. There is nothing wrong with this video. Originality - check. Energy - check. Proper editing - check. Kuddos to the time and planning that went into this production -- and more kuddos to the supporting faculty and staff who made it happen. Encouragement is often lacking and Garden Spot should be proud that they have dedicated personnel working and impacting their students. I am giving it two thubms up!

    Jessica Modrzejewski
    Education/Assessment Librarian
    Slippery Rock University

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  5. Haters hate. That's what they do. But when she's on stage with Psy or on the Today Show or at film school on a full ride only to become a famous director, a different parody comes to mind.... "Winning!!!"

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  6. Wonderfully fun, creative video from a school that obviously supports and cares about the students!

    ~Amy Wojciechowski, Librarian, NJ.

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  7. Steph,

    I think it's great that you're going to bat for your former students like this. This is an example of the kind of bullying that can only exist under 2 conditions: 1) that negative people continue to give it attention, and 2) that positive people stay silent. Thanks for being a positive person who DIDN'T stay silent about this.

    Kelly Mulhern
    GVHS English Teacher

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    1. To add to your conditions: 3) that the person doing the bullying remains anonymous.
      Although poster "Cym4tic" claims to be from the high school, I question whether or not they would have made the same comments if they had to take personal responsibility for them.

      Kathy Baldauf
      Children's Librarian

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  8. And also, kudos to the students, teachers, and administrators who created this original and clever video!

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  9. Are you kidding? What a fun video. So, not everyone dances like people on tv. Gues what, MOST of us don't.

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  10. Steph,
    Way to point out all the excellent work that went into this video. I love seeing so many people in the school involved and I hope the creators keep it up! Not only working hard to create the video but being proud of your school!

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  11. It is so sad that inflammatory comments are posted so often (many times modeled by adults). Too often, we forget that people are on the other end of comments and that they have emotions that are worthy of protecting. It is a matter of character. As educators, we have the opportunity to model positive online behavior (I blogged about that here: http://khornberger.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/handling-cyber-safety-mandates-effectively/) We desperately need to create a kinder culture in the online world.

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    1. For sure!

      Randi Wall
      Librarian
      Cheltenham High School

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    2. The negativity is what bothered me so much - and those who just ran with it to such extremes in the comments.

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  12. It is a shame that so many feel that it is acceptable to spread negativity about others. It is always disappointing to see how easily people make fun of others' efforts. There must be something better to do with your time than belittle those who you do not have to look in the eye. These students and their teachers and administrators who supported them should be congratulated for their effort, their creativity and their willingness to take risks. These are admirable traits that will take these students far. Besides all that. . . they were having fun! What more could you ask.
    KFP
    GVHS

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  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  14. Thanks for putting a smile on my face today! The creativity and energy that went into making this parody made me chuckle and admire the spirit of the students and staff at Garden Spot HS. Good job, well done!

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  15. I appreciate the spirit and enthusiasm of both students and staff. And while it may not be a polished K-pop music video, I applaud its energy!

    LIS coordinator
    Richmond District

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  16. Steph,

    Thanks for the nice post. At the very least, this experience has created a multitude of conversations with student, teachers and admin here at Garden Spot about our digital footprints and the impact that it now has on all of our lives. Like it or not.

    Hope all is well.

    Tim

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    1. Olweus has reached GVHS and we are having these discussions on a regular basis now, as well.

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  17. Great school spirit and good fun for the people involved. Well done students (and faculty)!!!

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  18. People should be applauded for their creativity, not damned because of it...especially youth.

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  19. This fun (it was a parody) video was a great collaborative effort on the part of students and staff to have some fun with the school environment. If you cannot take time to laugh at yourself once in a while you need to examine your worldview.

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  20. I never saw it as a negative and I am a Garden Spot Teacher. I thought it was fun and was disappointed I was not asked to be in the video.

    As with many situation, the reason for the YouTube upload was innocent (to share with a distant family member), then someone re-uploaded after the original was removed.

    Sadly, there are people out there that just do not what to celebrate, they wish to hate.

    Thank you for your comments and your support. I am proud to support these kids and there video.

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    1. It was fun! I thought it was a shame that the re-upload had such negative comments with it and so many others followed the lead and ran with it. Once things are posted online, we lose control of them.

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  21. I also work in the district. What I am most proud of is the way the administration is handling the fallout from the video. They see as a fun way to show Spartan pride. Done well? Maybe not, but the effort that was put into it was amazing! You do need to remember was a student's work, not a professionals. Thanks for the great post, Stephanie!

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    1. I'm glad to see this is being used as a learning experience. In the InfoLit class I had there we talked about this kind of thing - how you lose control once something is posted online, digital footprint, online bullying behavior, how things posted online are international and permanent, etc.

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  22. This is sad and I'm sorry that people decided to be nasty when they could have been positive, encouraging, and kind. Spartans, your spirit shows in a positive way! Ignore the haters. :)

    spartan - resolute in the face of pain or danger or adversity; "spartan courage"
    resolute - firm in purpose or belief; characterized by firmness and determination; "stood resolute against the enemy"; "faced with a resolute opposition"; "a resolute and unshakeable faith"
    -- http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Spartan

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  23. I loved the video and posted that students, teachers and other school personnel were seen enjoying a song with laughter, dancing and singing.

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  24. I have had numerous opportunities to talk with my GS students about this video. There are many that are embarrassed by it, fearful of judgement, and hurt from the comments. I have been searching all day to find the right words, and here they are. Well said, Steph!


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    1. Nate - please share this with them if you want to - I wanted them to see a place with positive comments about the video and their efforts. I have heard nothing but how cool it was and demonstrated school spirit since it incorporated the entire school community.

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  25. WOW I DON'T KNOW WHAT ALL THE HUB BUB IS ABOUT. I FOUND THIS VIDEO VERY CREATIVE AND ENTERTAINING. I LOVE THE FACT THAT THESE STUDENTS SPENT THEIR TIME DOING SOMETHING LIKE THIS RATHER THAN WHO KNOW WHAT.

    GORDON ARMENT
    GARDEN SPOT GRAD.

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  26. I want to set the record straight I was able to talk personally to the individual that created this video! He/she is not at all angry at the nasty comments or the person who reuploaded the video! In fact he/she was very excited it attracted this much attention and even though most of the popularity was through negative opinions, he/she is excited to see how far it will go because he/she believes just like us that there are many people out there that are proud and inspired by this video! I also was able to speak personally to the individual who reuploaded the video who goes by Cym4tic on youtube. He saved the copy of the video because he helped produce it! he never meant for the video to become such an attraction and even though he commented about hating the video he is truly proud of how far it went! Besides it would not have gotten so popular if he didnt reupload it becaus ethe original video was deleted from youtube by the Individual i spoke about earlier! And I can assure you that individual is truely grateful to Cym4tic for reuploading it he/she even said so for herself! in conclusion, I do want to point out that even after what I have said I definatly do not condone the horrible critisism that even Lancaster Online said could not be repeated in a family newspaper!

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  27. It's just great to see people having fun! I wish there were more examples of people being creative, showing school spirit, and enjoying themselves.... and especially doing so in positive and non hurtful ways. I don't understand why people don't just enjoy the moment more instead of looking for things to criticize. Great job by those who did the video!

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  28. Thanks for writing this and I hope that the people involved with the video see the outpouring of positive thoughts coming their way. I think it's important to have a sense of humor when dealing with things on the internet and taking what people say as anything but serious. As you said, they are anonymous critiques and anonymity is a cloak that makes people think they can be hurtful, thoughtless, and crass. I agree that the education system in this country is in a sad state and I would love to see this turn positive for my old Alma Mater by going so viral its creators end up on Good Morning America or something! Own up to it and be proud of all the hype it's causing and it could potentially be a great thing. It's all about how you spin it. A sense of humor and positive attitude can go a long way!

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  29. Danielle Bupp-PetersheimDecember 7, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    I think it was a lot like the other KGSH videos that the students produce...I think it was a good attempt at school unity. I am just shocked and saddened about people being sooo mean online! Let's go Spartans!

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  30. Kudos to your school and to your creative and obviously brave students! The video shows an engaged school community and demonstrates the school's support for its students, their talents, and its understanding that today's world demands media literacy and media talents. I'm sure Steven Spielberg started the same way. Go Spartans! Learning is an adventure! And Kudos to artists like Psy and Carly Rae Jepsen and to their producers who encourage imitation and parody rather than threatening copyright infringement like Sony did with a Michael Jackson song that was used to promote reading ( http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2012/11/29/news/doc50b6eae3c2723224822222.txt) Good job! And thanks Stephanie for sharing your comments.

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  31. Thank you Steph for the positive response to the Spartan Style video. I loved it, and although I no longer know any of the students at Garden Spot, I loved seeing many of my colleagues in the video. I am proud of everyone at GS for writing it, filming it and participating in it. Good job!

    Karen Hudick

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  32. We liked the video, it clearly took a lot of time and effort. Too bad others can't appreciate your creativity, time and effort. Haterz gon' hate!

    Garnet Valley High School Students

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  33. It's hard to see why people take so much effort to hate on another student's project. Not everything will be the cherry on the pie, but they put effort and heart into it. That's really all that matters. Don't mind the internet people and just keep on going!

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  34. This video was clearly meant to demonstrate school spirit, and was not published to influence any opinions. It was a fun project, and that's all there was to it! Why take so much time to spread it all over the Internet just to bash it?

    People nowadays....

    -A Garnet Valley student.

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  35. This was such a creative idea and it was great to see the students and teachers taking part in it! It shows how much effort was put into making this video, and ultimately all that matters is that the people making the video had a good time. There are over 6 billion people in the world: don't let a couple of strangers bring you down. You're proud of being a Spartan and it's rare to see someone with such great schools spirit these days,...so don't let a couple of haters get to you :)
    -A Garnet Valley Student

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  36. Wow! Let's just say there are some stupid people out there. To whomever made the video: it was awesome! Glad to see so much school spirit and energy go into a video. Honestly, I don't think I would have the courage to do that, haha! Thanks for making a unique video. Remember, don't let some ignorant strangers bring you down! -GV student

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