Flash Mobs Are Hostage Situations

The Improv Everywhere people should be arrested. The whole idea of flash mobs is, from their perspective, to inject a little art and whimsy into unsuspecting people’s lives. To me, it’s a hostage situation. Take the video below.

How wonderful, right? Who could take issue with an impromptu checkout line serenade? Me. Imagine you were out trying to get your groceries and you’re under a very strict time constraint. If it’s me, I’m doing my grocery shopping on my lunch hour, right after work, or on the weekend with my baby. In each of those cases, I have a very specific time frame where I have to grab the crap on my list, get out, and get home or back to work. Now, imagine I am forced to be subjected to this self-indulgent display of “look at us, aren’t we artistic,” parade of nonsense. Oh great, you learned to make the bleeps and bloops into a capricious song. Meanwhile, I’m late to get back to work, I didn’t sign up to listen to your awful song, my baby needs to take a nap or eat or get her diaper changed, or I have frozen foods that are rapidly defrosting.

Inserting the credit card chip takes an irritatingly long time, how pleased am I going to be if you break out into song? I can barely restrain myself from throwing a can of low sodium kidney beans at someone who waits until everything is bagged and the total is ready to write a check. How much restraint do I have to exercise when the lights go out and the bag boy decides to beat box over the PA? Stop testing us.

The only acceptable Flash mob. Source
The only acceptable Flash mob. Source

That’s the problem with all of these flash mobs, you’re interrupting.  It’s rude. It’s also rude to what you’re considering your art. They call it performance art, but not only do they value their art so little that they give it away for free, but they force it on to others. That’s how little they value their performance that they force people to witness it. If it had any value at all, people would be paying to see it, or at the very least, seek it out.

They’re also so smugly proud of inconveniencing people. Look at any flash mob video, the participants have the biggest, self-congratulatory grins. “Look at what we’re giving people. Aren’t we great. Hey, is everyone’s name in this flash mob Carter or Hayden?” They aren’t clever enough to be so proud of themselves. Great, you all showed up in a Best Buy and started dancing, how avant garde. At worst, they specifically target and terrorize people. There’s an episode of This American Life that details how they mindlessly terrorize people for their own enjoyment.

Look at their sh*t eating grins. So proud to be blocking the walkway.
Look at their sh*t eating grins. So proud to be blocking the walkway.

However, there is an important axiom someone told me, “don’t present a problem unless you have a solution.”  In other words, if Improv Everywhere is an issue, then I propose they become “Improv in This Specific Location.” They rent or buy some black box theater and make their supposed art worth at least going to intentionally see. At the very least, ask yourself, “is my blandly, hastily rehearsed attention grab worth wrecking people’s already tight schedule?” Maybe do improv in improv theaters?

Because nobody is in a rush in an airport? You know what other groups do terrible synchronized dances? Country Western line dancing, and that sucks too.
Because nobody is in a rush in an airport? You know what other groups do terrible synchronized dances? Country Western line dancing, and that sucks too.

Normally I wouldn’t be against people having fun or generating what they think is fun, but for the love of god, be considerate. It’s on my family crest which is the personification of empathy and consideration tastefully dry humping each other while walking the neighbor’s dog.


Add yours →

  1. Sounds like someone pissed in your cornflakes this morning, Pickleope, you grump!


  2. abeerfortheshower March 6, 2017 — 12:06 pm

    But how else are these people going to put their $60,000 Dance Studies degrees to good use?


  3. They’re unemployed or working a shit job, living with their parents, in debt up to their eyeballs. What else are they going to do for fun?


  4. I don’t handle crowds very well so flash mobs would piss me off


  5. 1. I have never been caught in a flash mob but I’m guessing I’d assume it’s some kind of terrorist attack.

    2. To reply to your comment on my post today (I’d reply there but assume you’re too cool to lurk for replies):

    A. What is it with dads? I got into it so bad with him on my other facebook page that literally 4 of my friends messaged me about it, and two of my coworkers brought it up today.

    B. I’d feel badly too if I had a baby. But on the bright side, it’ll probably take 20-30 years to fix all the shit trump’s doing, so she will probably not end up too much worse off than we have been to date. Like, they might take away social security and medicare for you and me, but by the time her generation gets old, they’ll release how f***ed up it is to do that and bring it back around. (And of course they can’t dismantle SS overnight, so people who are about to retire are still in ok shape.) It’s people our age are probably facing the bleakest outlook. Cold comfort for us, but maybe a little something to hold on to when thinking of baby pickleope?


    • Also by “him” i mean my dad, not yours of course. That’d be weird.


    • In terms of the social security net, you may be right, but let’s not forget the appointment of an aggressively unqualified crony to the office of Education Secretary after vowing to dismantle the whole education department during his campaign which can have a very real effect on my child by the time she’s school ready except there’s no school for her to go to. Also, the very real threat to the EPA (which he can do virtually overnight) that can have a very real effect on all of humanity in the next five years. And, not to rehash what I wrote to my dad, but his eliminating restrictions on coal mining in terms of their dumping into clean water, which, my water source is close to coal mines, so, wish us and our cancer well. And no, I can’t “just move.” Good times.


      • Goddamnit, i forgot all about how babies grow into kids who need to go to school.

        Ugh. Yes. I hear you. Good points all around. “Just move” is equivalent to “just dont be poor or get sick ever.” Hmm must be nice to be one of those rich magical people.

        I dont even bring up the environment around my colleagues with young kids because I figure its too upsetting for them to contemplate. (We also get some grant funding from the EPA for brownfields clean up where I work so….that should be great.)


    • To paraphrase a protest sign I saw, I’m not a political person, but jeeeeeezussss.


  6. Hmmmm. I’ve never been trapped by a flash mob. If I were, it would make me uncomfortable. Look at the way they use “mob” as if it’s something fun when everyone knows the mob is the mafia. They are the flash mafia. They will kill you if you get in their way. And singing? Some of them have to be Sopranos.



    • Oh, wow! I missed the singing/Soprano mob/mafia connection! They’re going to ask us for protection money to avoid things like the underwear subway ride (real thing), aren’t they?


      • It’s part of the flash mafia plan that soon they will demand money to release you from the clutches of the mob. If you don’t pay, they’ll follow you everywhere you go–even into your house–and sing to you non-stop.


  7. That’s why I use the self-checkout line.

    Actually, that previous sentence summarizes my life.

    Don’t be me.


  8. I wish that instead of dancing or singing flash mobs would show up and clean my house.


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