Why are you dancing? -- Because I'm Happy!
April 18, 2014 3:01 AM   Subscribe

Pharrell Loves My Work Anne Marsen compares the video of Girl Walk//All Day with Pharrell's Happy
posted by Lanark (30 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Girl Walk is EVERYTHING. The borrowing/inspiration bugs me mostly because I think Girl Walk never got enough attention. On the other hand maybe this will end up getting it in front of more people!

posted by wemayfreeze at 3:17 AM on April 18, 2014

Ooh, so that's why Anne Marsen played a street-dancing character on The Good Wife. Suddenly, the veil lifts!
posted by Georgina at 4:10 AM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

We loved Girl Walk so much over here; we literally ran to the computer each day a new chapter was released! I hope we see some credit going out there!
posted by NiteMayr at 5:02 AM on April 18, 2014

Ehhhh, I get where this is coming from, but I think if you film 24 hours of people improvising dance moves, you're gonna get crossover. I'm pretty sure I could take any given dance move and find it somewhere in 24 Hours of Happy, from the frug to Take-The-Apple-From-The-Tree-Take-A-Bite-And-Throw-It-Down*. I'm not saying it's impossible, but as somebody that works in a creative industry, there are a lot of Doom Patrol / X-Men "is it coincidence or is it a rip-off?" moments in the wild.

*I was a '90s goth
posted by Shepherd at 5:24 AM on April 18, 2014 [9 favorites]

Oh, at the end when she's dancing behind the Hasidic men making hat and sideburn moves, it honestly felt like she was mocking them in a way that made me feel a bit weird watching.
posted by dabitch at 5:56 AM on April 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

Gregg Gillis the producer of Girl Talk (on which Girl Walk//All day is based) interviewed by Spin magazine: "Yeah, there's definitely some similarities. It could be a coincidence or maybe somebody in Pharrell's camp was influenced by the video. Do I think the Pharrell video used those elements in a transformative nature and created something new out of it? Yes."
posted by Lanark at 6:04 AM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do I think the Pharrell video used those elements in a transformative nature and created something new out of it? Yes.

And that is precisely how Gregg Gillis built his body of work. I think it's important to note, though, that it doesn't seem either Marsen or Gillis is saying there's anything wrong with what Pharrell did. They're calling him out as a fan, just as Gillis is obviously being a huge fan of everyone from Biggie Smalls to AC/DC when he remixes their music into new pieces. If Pharrell is cool, he'll admit the influence and his fandom, but maybe he doesn't consider himself part of the remixing/creative commons/open source culture the way Gillis obviously does.

Signed, a Girl Talk fan
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 6:15 AM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

Meh. Hollywood meat factory chews up art and spits it back out in a colorless wad. Oldest story ever told (since the beginning of the mass media industry).
posted by Mooseli at 7:03 AM on April 18, 2014

As far as Pharrell not being cool with open source culture, there's about a million "Happy" videos out there right now from all over the world and he is pretty obviously cool with it.

Also, I agree, the end where she is dancing behind the Hasidic men did look like she is mocking them, and made me feel icky. They handled it pretty well.

I'd never heard of "Girl Talk" and it does look like some scenes in "Happy" are clearly shot in the exact same set up as Girl Talk, however there is something about the Girl Talk scenes that makes me want to slap her and I never got that feeling watching the 20 million "Happy" clips I've seen in the last six months.
posted by maggiemaggie at 7:13 AM on April 18, 2014 [7 favorites]

Eh, no. Bodies move in similar ways.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:34 AM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

(And also, yes, the girl is extremely annoying, IMHO)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:34 AM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

And she loves Ferris Bueller.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:41 AM on April 18, 2014

This actually feels like a lower than average amount of similarities now that I realize there's a 24 hour video for "Happy" and not just the song-length one.

This seems like it's a non-controversy even insofar as she believes they've ever seen her work, let alone what she thinks of them supposedly "borrowing" it.

It is pretty amazing that she invented all of those dance moves and created all of that background scenery herself, though...
posted by rollbiz at 7:47 AM on April 18, 2014

I had never seen the Girl Walk thing before, but it was well mixed between things I found genuinely charming and things that made me uncomfortable. Dancing in the street? Fun. Following people down the street dancing at them when they seem to want to get away from you? Not so fun.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:47 AM on April 18, 2014

"And he loves... San Dimas!"
posted by kalessin at 7:50 AM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Girl Talk is something very different from Girl Walk.
posted by shoesfullofdust at 8:11 AM on April 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

This video is a tribute to the ability of New Yorkers to pretend that whatever's happening around them isn't really happening.

Walking around in public in the past month, I've encountered four people with clear drug problems dressed up as the Statue of Liberty in order to advertise tax preparers, at least a dozen sign-flippers letting me know about sandwiches and real estate, more people asking me for money than I care to recall, two people trying to give me religious material, I'm not sure how many people trying to give me fliers for their nightclub/rave/album/whatever, one woman who shouted "GET AWAY, DEMON" as I passed her, one very angry dog, and one man pissing on the bus bench.

Going outside isn't for cowards, and if the worst thing that you encounter in a day is someone dancing up on you for a second, you can mark one in the win column.

I'm enjoying this video way too much.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:02 AM on April 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


that is another similarity!!!
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 9:14 AM on April 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

I like dancing
posted by naju at 9:54 AM on April 18, 2014

BTW IMO it's mildly insulting to choreographers, dancers, etc. if you say "ehh all bodies move the same" because they put time and effort into this stuff and it only APPEARS off the cuff and spontaneous because they're so damn good at what they do.
posted by naju at 9:56 AM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ugh, please honey, go home. This is so grating and obnoxious.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:16 AM on April 18, 2014

Girl Walk makes me squirmingly uncomfortable in a way that the Happy vids, professional or not, have never come close to. The Happy vids (basically all of them) actually make me happy, and the people in them seem to be charmed and amused, for the most part. The Girl Walk vids are weirdly aggressive and confrontational--she gets right up in people's faces and flails at them. I was waiting for someone to smack her, or for the punchline, or something, and instead there was...more (intentional-feeling) awkward flailing.

The dance moves don't strike me as anything particularly interesting or unique. Which isn't to say that I haven't watched many more hours of Happy videos than I'd care to admit, or many more minutes of Girl Walk than I'd care to see again, but...come on. Jumping with a heel click to the side--maybe it's an homage to Newsies! Or leprechauns! Dramatic leg kicks on a bench seem to be a staple of this sort of thing; the crazy hall walk at about :25 is a thing that I've seen innumerable happy children doing. There's a finite number of ways to have someone dancing in a city, effectively using the city as props, and I don't think that it's shocking that people making similar videos will have similar ideas.
posted by MeghanC at 10:59 AM on April 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

Yes, that's it! The uncomfortable. Just compare the scene with her dancing with a young girl, and Pharrel dancing with a young girl. Pharrel takes a bow to nod to the little girls super moves. Girl Walk makes a big leg show of it all and the young girl looks a bit put off.
posted by dabitch at 11:19 AM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Girl Walk makes a big leg show of it all and the young girl looks a bit put off.

There's something to be said for graceful movement.
posted by ReeMonster at 11:21 AM on April 18, 2014

Regardless, we can all agree the Pharrell song blows chunks?
posted by mrgrimm at 11:51 AM on April 18, 2014

(oops I should have said Girl Walk and now it's too late to edit )
posted by maggiemaggie at 11:56 AM on April 18, 2014

Regardless, we can all agree the Pharrell song blows chunks?

Gru, is that you ?
posted by Pendragon at 12:09 PM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

The uncomfortable.

weirdly aggressive and confrontational

Well, disagree, because Girl Walk is clearly guerrilla, while Happy is clearly staged. Like the way the crowd hangs back so Pharrell has room to dance. I think this point just illustrates the conceptual differences, not a better/worse dichotomy.

I never came close to getting into either thing enough to watch "all" the videos, but it sure looks like there was some inspiration there and I don't think there's anything particularly wrong with it as long as it's acknowledged. There have been quite a few cases of professional music videos borrowing concepts from even outside the music video scene without credit and it's at least a little sketchy.
posted by dhartung at 12:47 PM on April 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Although the one line of dialogue in Girl Walk "because I'm happy" does appear rather prominently in the lyrics I think it is doubtful that Pharrell was plagiarising Girl Walk. Those 340 dancers though, some of them were clearly re-enacting the thing (the guy in the 80's windcheater being the most obvious).

A big part of Anne's schtick is getting the unsuspecting public to dance along with her (with varying degrees of success) this may not come across from watching a couple of brief clips.
What she was aiming for, Pharrell pulled off in grand style by just recruiting the 340 amateur dancers through a casting agency.

It will never happen, but just imagine if a litigious Anne Marsen dragged those 340 people into court ..."so little girl, please tell the court exactly what your inspiration for that particular wiggle was".
posted by Lanark at 1:18 PM on April 18, 2014

Pretty much anything I see that involves people dancing in public reminds me of the "Where the hell is Matt" video. I would guess that considering the scope of 300 people dancing to a single song for 24 hours, you could make a comparison video with just about any other thing that contains dancing in it.

More importantly, does the Marsen Video have Magic Johnson dancing through his trophy room?

Didn't think so...

Regardless, we can all agree the Pharrell song blows chunks?

I agree to no such thing, and it seems as if the rest of planet earth agrees with me.
posted by billyfleetwood at 1:22 PM on April 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

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