I have been wanting to post about “Where the Hell is Matt” for over a year at this point. The only real reason I haven’t is due mostly to my busy schedule as a teacher, but with that life slipping behind me I find myself with nothing but time to catch up on the elements of life I missed out on. One in particular is responding to his most recent video from 2012 that inspired myself and my kids to find our own way to change the world. There isn’t much to his videos and there are based on something rather simple, dancing around the world. But his simple concept of visiting different cities and dancing with local populations has inspired me and continues to inspire me. The videos are cute, funny and leave an audience smiling if not laughing. But no jokes are told or script developed. For what makes us enjoy his videos is the happiness and togetherness they portray. We see the differences of our world so wonderfully displayed next to each other as to forget the pain those differences have caused. We are given a reason to smile from his video.
In my own explorations as to what is the responsibility of artists I have danced with the idea that as artists we have responsibilities to the population. As a community we always want to strive to be better and those who strive for our attention should naturally lead us down that path. I’ve gone so far as to criticize the remarkably enjoyable music of Jimmy Buffet for doing nothing more than giving us a reason to drink and screw. Yet I was mistaken then and can realize it now. The role of art is and always has been to engage us. To produce in us a reaction transient and pleasurable, his music does that.
I’m not about to suggest that Matt’s videos are as timeless and enjoyable as Jimmy Buffet but I do want to argue that there is a significance to the smile they produce in us. We are a social species by nature, it has had great influence on our evolution, being able to communicate and share and desiring to as well. We are a better, smarter species for our social desires and yet recently I feel we have lost some of that. Many smarter and more informed individuals have blasted our generation and the internet for the decrease in social experiences and though I lean towards their camp I’m not necessarily sure they are right. Have we truly replaced time together with time online? Furthermore is time online truly void of the same social celebrations produced in time together? The answers aren’t necessarily there just yet and maybe won’t be for a while. However what is there is that videos like this have a power to remind us what it means to be together. Those who participated in his videos enjoyed togetherness while those who enjoyed his videos witnessed it. But more than just witnessing it, my classroom felt it, discussed it, celebrated it, and used it to inspire ourselves.
I’ll leave it there for now but will return. I’d like to see more of us inspiring ourselves.
Those unfamiliar with Matt’s dancing exploits can find information about him and his adventures here.