The Nose: "Footloose" in China; Sexy in South Windsor; Obsequious in Oklahoma

Mar 27, 2015

Our topics today involve censorship, transgression, and reconciliation. 

Earlier in the week, The Nose panelists started talking about China's "dancing grannies" problem. This sounds like a Monty Python sketch, but it's real. In China's public squares, droves of people --most of them women and most of them with a little snow on their roofs -- assemble and dance, in various styles, to various kinds of music. 

If you want a peek at the dancing grannies:

And, in the time since that clip was made, there has been even more of a crackdown. China being China, the government decided the way to go was standardization. Everybody should do the same dances.

The regulations, developed after a joint study by the General Administration of Sport and the Ministry of Culture, are intended to foster “healthy, watchable, scientific and wide-ranging” dancing, according to the state news media. To that end, an expert panel has developed 12 model routines that will be taught nationwide by instructors who have received official training.

It's an odd solution, since nobody was really complaining about the style of the dancing.

Credit Wall Street Journal

Also, dancing makes people feel good about their lives, even if they're all crammed in together with fewer options than they might want. For that reason, videos of this type are increasingly common in American high schools. Don't believe me? Just watch.

The Nose panel sees some connection between the China story and the reactions to the teacher in South Windsor whose career hangs by a thread after he read to his class an Allen Ginsberg poem so sexually (and homoerotically) graphic that some of you who think you have an "anything goes" attitude may find yourselves stumbling over some of the images. 

(If you're looking for the Ginsberg reboot poem I endorsed, it's here.)

And does this connect in any way to the Conn College prof who is also facing heat over his comments about Palestinians? And isn't it a little weird that the same guy's bathroom exploded? 

And let's say you REALLY screw up. How do you get your good name back? We've been emailing back and forth  about the Oklahoma frat guy asking permission to rejoin the human race. Modern digital shaming culture includes a lot of this kind of thing -- ostracism with no clear path back to the tribal campfire. 

We can talk about all this stuff coherently. Don't believe us? Just watch listen. 


  • Irene Papoulis - Writing professor at Trinity College 
  • Jim Chapdelaine - an Emmy-award winning composer, engineer, producer and musician, 
  • Tracy Wu-Fastenberg - Director of Development at the Mark Twain House & Museum


“Footloose” by Kenny Loggins www.youtube.com/watch?v=hq3Q3FfJkK4

“Shame On You” by Willie Nelson www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMAHWcnkaLw