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OPINION - Blurred Lines

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU) One parent said the Marshfield High School dance team’s routine was “suggestive but not explicit.”

Since I’ve added high school sports coverage to my regular duties I’ve seen many high school dance teams over the last two years. I’d describe many of them the same way. And that’s the problem. A high school dance team is made up of 16, 17, and 18 year old girls. Dance routines that involve rump shaking, writhing on the ground, being on all-fours and pelvic thrusts are indeed suggestive. I’ve seen some dance teams that I wouldn't allow my daughters to join.

And that brings me to a problem. Who decides what is and isn’t over the line? This is one of those I-know-it-when-I-see-it situations. And school districts, full of administrators, will want a written policy. How would that work? This move, this position, this giggle, this trust is or isn’t allowed? That would be comical. It isn’t practical.

So let’s examine Marshfield’s decision to fire their dance team coach Lisa Jolin. She should not have been dismissed, and should be reinstated immediately.

There is video on-line of the ‘Blurred Lines’ routine. The dancing itself appears tame and harmless. This issue is the song, not the performance.

And that’s a slippery slope. I’ve heard Blurred Lines dozens of times. It has funky bass and a catchy hook. I was also only vaguely aware of the song’s meaning. My kids are better at interpreting lyrics than I am. There are many pop hits today where I might like the music and be somewhat clueless about what the words say and mean. So now we are going to place dance team coaches in the impossible position of interpreters of meanings of songs. Who’d willingly take on that role?

Last weekend the DC Everest Dance Team, one of the best in the state, performed their hip-hop routine at homecoming. They are, by far, a more accomplished and more technically-advanced group than Marshfield’s. The music for the Everest routine, as best I could tell, was a mash-up of many rap and hip-hop songs. The music was probably edited for timing and for content. I couldn’t understand what words were being said. I certainly didn’t know any of the songs meanings. Yet we’d allow someone to interpret what’s being said, decided if they personally approve or not, and potentially file a complaint against the dance team’s coach. That’s ridiculous.

Chris Conley