Assistant Professor of Media and Society Leah Shafer will present her paper, “Tik Tok on the Clock but the Party Don’t Stop No: Parodic Military Dance Videos on YouTube,” at the 2011 Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference in New Orleans, La., this week. Shafer’s paper is featured as the New Media paper on a panel about representations of combat in film and video. Her paper establishes a sub-genre within the field of military videos on YouTube.
In early 2010, a group of Israel Defense Forces soldiers filmed themselves performing a synchronized dance to Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok,” while on patrol in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. The video, a parody of a skit on a popular satirical television show, quickly went viral.
Within days of being uploaded on YouTube, it had been watched more than 1.6 million times. Response from international news outlets covering the story was mixed: was it an image of stressed young soldiers creatively blowing off steam or a callous performance of ridicule by hostile aggressors?
Shafer examines the controversy surrounding the Israel Defense Forces soldiers’ performance as a way to discuss the proliferation of parodic military dance videos on YouTube. She explores the popularity of viral videos featuring soldiers performing parodic versions of pop cultural phenomena and discusses the ways they raise vexing moral and ethical questions: about the videos, the public response and the complicated politics of immersive spectatorship in the age of New Media.
The Society for Cinema and Media Studies is the leading scholarly organization in the United States dedicated to promoting a broad understanding of film, television, and related media through research and teaching grounded in the contemporary humanities tradition. SCMS encourages excellence in scholarship and pedagogy and fosters critical inquiry into the global, national, and local circulation of cinema, television, and other related media. SCMS scholars situate these media in various contexts, including historical, theoretical, cultural, industrial, social, artistic, and psychological.