Edited by Azizi Powell
This post presents my comments about the similarities between "Do It For The Vine/I Ain't Gonna Do It" and what I refer to as "command/refusal* cheers."
The content of this post is presented for folkloric, cultural, entertainment purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to my daughter and all others who shared examples of command/refusal cheers with me and thanks to the originator/publisher of the "Do it for the Vibe, I ain't gonna do it" video.
I previously used the term "command compliance" cheers, but changed that term on 11/12/2016 to emphasize the soloist's initial refusal to do what the group demanded of her.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF FOOT STOMPING CHEERS
Foot stomping cheers are percussive, choreographed, rehearsed movement routines that are usually informally performed by two or more girls (ages 7-12 years) while they chant a composition that has a distinctive call & response structure. The earliest documented foot stomping cheers that I have found are from African American school girls in Washington, D.C., 1976. As such, many foot stomping cheers are not only a category of children's play activities (as a sub-category of children's cheerleader cheers), but many foot stomping cheers are also part of the continuum of African American oral and performing arts.
WHAT ARE COMMAND/REFUSAL FOOT STOMPING CHEERS?
"Command/refusal" (c/r) is my term for a sub-category of foot stomping cheers which follows this specific pattern:
1. The group commands [demands] the soloist to do something.
2. The soloist either outright refuses (saying something like "no way") or the soloist demurs (saying something like "too shy").
3. The group repeats the same command to the soloist.
4. The soloist complies with that command by either saying "okay" and then doing what was requested of her or the soloist just goes ahead and does what is commanded of her. Usually, the group's command is for the soloist to demonstrate a dance of her choice.
I consider command/refusal cheers to be a sub-category of dance style foot stomping cheers because usually what the soloist is ordered to do is to show off her dancing or stepping ability. Certain examples of the foot stomping cheer entitled "Get Down" demonstrate this command/compliance style.
GET DOWN (Version #1)
All : I saida D-O-W-N. That’s the way we get down.
D-O-W-N. That’s the way we get down.
I saida D-O-W-N. That’s the way we get down.
D-O-W-N. That’s the way we get down.
Group: Hey, Danielle. (insert 1st girl's name)
Group: Show us how you get down.
Danielle: No way.
Group: Show us how you get down.
I said D-O-W-N.
And that’s the way.
That’s the way.
That’s the way I get down.
Group: She saidah D-O-W-N. And that’s the way.
That’s the way. That’s the way she gets down.
Performance instruction: Repeat the entire cheer with next soloist who says her name. This continues from the beginning until everyone has had a turn as soloist.
-Tazi M. Powell; memories of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, late 1980s, early to mid 1990s; Collected by Azizi Powell
When the soloist says "that's the way I get down", she does some fancy step or dance movement. When the group says "That's the way she gets down", they are doing the same step or movement as the soloist. Each soloist tries to do something different from the dance or steps that other people ahead of her have done.
Although I refer to these cheers as “command/refusal cheers, the actual pattern is "command, refusal, command, compliance" (crcc).
"Introduce Yourself" and "Rock The Boat" are good examples of command/refusal cheers. I'd categorize these cheers as "dance style" foot stomping cheers instead of as "confrontational" foot stomping cheers because in confrontational cheers the words focus on insulting (dissing) and/or threatening some unidentified person (or when these cheers are adapted to be used during actual sports event, the opposing team and/or their cheerleaders.)
DRAMA AND COMMAND REFUSAL CHEER PERFORMANCES
It's important to remember that foot stomping cheers are a form of dramatic play. Girls chanting these cheers must look their (often pretend) audience in the eye, speak with a moderate voice (not whisper or whine) and use a disdainful tone of voice. Body gestures such as "talk to the hand" can also be incorporated in these cheer performance to increase that performance's reality factor. However, it's important to remember that just because girls act like they are tough, doesn't mean that's the way they act in their everyday interactions.
COMMANDS TO DO AN ACTION VS THE QUESTION "CAN YOU DO AN ACTION"
There's a crucial difference between being ordered (commanded) to do something and being asked if you are able to do (know how to do) something. to do an action. Using the "Rock The Boat" cheer as an example,commanding (ordering) the soloist to perform a particular dance move (rock the boat) is different from asking the soloist if she knows how to (or is able to) perform that particular dance move.
It's possible that "Can you rock the boat" could be interpreted as "Are you able to rock the boat?" However, in the context of that cheer, I don't think that the soloist's curt "No way" response means "There's no way that I'm able to do what you are commanding me to do." Instead, "No way" means that "There's no circumstances which would make me do what you ask. (There's no reason why I would do that.) The differences between ordering a person to do that action and politely asking the person to do it or asking if her or she is able to perform that action are important distinctions.
THE CULTURAL MESSAGE IN COMMAND/REFUSAL CHEERS
My guess is that in command/refusal cheers the soloist initially refuses to do what the group demands (asks) her to do as a show of strength. To immediately doing what the group demands would give the impression that she is weak, a push over, and therefore someone who could be messed over. Being weak is the opposite of the self-confident, tough girl ("hard") image that is valued in urban African American culture. That image is especially conveyed in confrontation style foot stomping cheers such as "Hula Hula" and "Hollywood Goes Swinging".
Although I believe that there are cultural values embedded in these types of cheers and (in the "Do it for the vine" off-shoots, I doubt that most people who chanted/chant these "demanding" command/compliance cheers or who make those "I ain't gonna do it" video are consciously aware of the cultural messages that those compositions/performances convey.
Note that in the "Do It For The Vine" examples, the person's refusal to "do it" (dance) results in violent responses. That's not the case in the command/compliant foot stomping cheers, perhaps because the second times that she's asked, the soloist does do what the group commands or asks her to do.
THE ORIGINAL "DO IT FOR THE VINE" VIDEO
"Do it for the vine" video/meme erupted on the internet in 2014.
"Vine is a mobile app owned by Twitter that enables its users to create and post short looping video clips. Video clips created with Vine have a maximum clip length of six seconds and can be shared to Vine's social network, or to other services such as Twitter and Facebook."
In the original example that sparked this Internet meme, a young Black girl refuses to "Do it for the Vine" two times, saying "I ain't gonna do it" and uses African American arm & hand gestures to emphasize those words. However, the third time she is told to "Do it for the Vine", she complies and "breaks out" in a funky dance that includes twerking movements. The girl's words are edited that third time (and other loops of that portion of the video tape). However, it appears that she is still saying "I ain't gonna do it" while she is doing that dance. Note that if this were a true command compliance pattern, the girl would have said "Okay" before she started to dance.
A YouTube video of the original Vine of the little girl dancing which sparked a number of parodies & compilation videos can be found below.
Similar to the beginning of command/refusal foot stomping cheers, "Do It For The Vine" videos have a group demand/person refusing pattern ("Do It for the Vine"/ "I ain't gonna do it"). However, when the person refuses to do what the group commands, the group resorts to violence (slapping, hitting).Other parodies of that video show the person ordering the action holding a knife or otherwise threatening the person to perform.
Personally, I don't find those parody videos funny. And I also think that they miss what I think is the reason why the person initially refused to comply with that command - to emphasize that he or she is a person who has free will and thus doesn't have to acquiesce to commands unless he or she wants to. I think that this point of view may be particularly poignant because of the history of African Americans as slaves and because so often African American workers are in subservient employment positions.
FEATURED VIDEO: Do It For The Vine Vine by Diamonique Shuler
VineVideoStation , January 26, 2014 [posted on YouTube]
Best Vines enjoy this.
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