Up in the Air Hip-Hop
There is a deadening sameness to air travel that sets my teeth on edge. It's not the shoe removal or the pouring out of your water or even the constant lack of space in overhead bins when you are in the last boarding group (somehow, no matter how far in advance we book, we are last to our seats.) No, what bugs me most is the education component of the flight, where necessary safety info is dealt out with a lack of imagination that is stupefying. The steward shoves a mask over his face and mimes clipping a seatbelt. The screen shows a cartoon animation of people sliding off a ramp into ...where? Surely not the ocean?
So I gotta hand it to Virgin America for their dazzling music video by director Jon M. Chu and choreographers Jamal Sims and Christopher Scott, with a team led by singer/songwriter/dancer Todrick Hall. (I know this because you can download a peppy behind the scenes piece from the seat back monitor.) It's got a dancing nun and hip-hop kids, as well as a quintet of Devo-guys in shades doing their robot moves as they inflate their life jackets.
The film takes place on a sound stage that makes no attempt to mimic the confines of an airplane. Instead, the dancers are in chairs that approximate airline rows, but with space in between to allow for maximum movement. One girl in glasses, who turns out to be a delinquent smoker, uses her enormously flexible body to draw one leg up overhead in an arabesque and drape the other around her neck. There's a Rockette-like sequence with seamed stockings and stilettos, as well as a little girl who raps solo twirling her mask, but then hands it off to an adult who puts it in place on her face. The stewards make use of the aisle to come down with hip-rolls and come back up in yoga-chatturanga position, jumping backwards on just their toes and fingertips. (There may be some CGI here, but it's tasteful!).
Space is assumed to be restricted,. No one hurtles over the back of a chair, for example, although these dancers easily could, because to hint at the possibility could be dangerous.The choreography in the chairs, however, indicates that even when clipped in one place for 6 hours, you're going to have a wonderful time.
The ethnically diverse passengers and crew are clearly committed to teaching us lunks on board what we need to know ("for the .000001 percent of you who have never used a seatbelt, pay attention now!") and beg you in hip-hop rhyme not to hesitate to ask questions if confused. But the video is so much sheer fun, there's no way to stop watching. Granted, this was my first viewing, but if I could have pressed "Play" again, I would have.
The solution to education isn't always make-em-laugh, but when it comes to digesting essential information that we've been given in less than effective forms for decades, this refreshing option is just brilliant. I will fly Virgin again! #VXsafetydance.