You know you’re really late to the party when you learn about a new trend in youth culture from the Times’ Sunday Styles section. Sadly, that’s what happened this weekend when I read Guy Trebay’s article on “jerking,” a new dance craze that’s apparently burst out of Los Angeles via the internet. On the upside, the new knowledge answered a question I’d been asking my television machine for the past few weeks. This was: What is that spastic karate-chop shit the crazy-haired girl in those “All You Need is Love” Blackberry commercial is practicing in front of her bedroom mirror? It seems strangely codified; she films others doing it, then tries really hard to perfect her own version. You feel embarrassed for her when you see it. (I hope she got a paid a lot for that commercial.) But then we’re asked to believe she wins the respect of her crew and their rivals after executing perfectly in a street dance-off competition. (The theme of the commercial seems to be: You can do anything if you really try your best. Climb a mountain, make clothes, do ballet, whatever.)
So, good to learn: she is supposed to be jerking. But! Those Blackberry commercials don’t get anything right. (They’re still in the doghouse, remember, from subjecting us to that godawful U2 song all summer.) If you YouTube the jerking videos made the by the kids in L.A., you see that the moves are actual not nearly so violent or effortful. There’s actually a cool casualness to it all that’s much easier to watch without puking into your shoes. (And some of the hit jerking songs are nice, throw-back candy rap.)
Also, on the rock tip, the song, the “All You Need is Love” part. We watch this band practicing in the studio, trying their best to get it right. We see them have a “that’s it, we got it!” moment. Then we see the singer, sitting at home with an acoustic guitar, strumming chords and jotting down words in a notebook. As if the guy is composing something, as if he is writing the song right then. Like, Hmm, maybe I’ll call it “All You Need is Love.” It’s a pretty good song. Pretty catchy, isn’t it? Well, fuck you, Blackberry! Because I’m old enough to not know what jerking is, I am also old enough to know that that particular song was written a long time ago. By a different band. The Beach Boys, or the Monkees or something.