Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Vogue Fem Fail: Niggas Not Ready

I thought you'd get a laugh out of a tweet from Williams College student Quess Green '20, posting as @hotboyqueso, who is on leave this semester reportedly making up for failed classes. Green attempted to educate the students in his community college in his Afro Latino history class by sharing his Vogue Fem dance moves. You can see the video by clicking the link below if he still has it up.

For my Afro Latino history class, we had to share a project that displayed a creative outlet & I decided to vogue..the niggas in the room were not ready.

While the women in Quess's class seem appreciative, the men in the class are rightly laughing out loud at his antics.

I suppose Quess Green '20 is best known at Williams College for his role as a performer at the Williams College Museum of Art during the opening of the exhibition "possible selves: queer foto vernaculars" in December 13, 2018.

As a junior at Williams, Quess Green is majoring in American Studies with a concentration in Africana & Latinx Studies. He is the head choreographer of NBC, the campus hiphop group and a member of Sankofa Step Team.

When I resigned from Williams College in the late 1980s, I remember that Madonna was extremely popular, perhaps at the peak of her fame. Her iconic song, "Vogue," came out the year after I left.

As far as I can tell, voguing is a product of the gay scene in New York, mainly confined to black and Latino men. (It is considered rude to be a white guy who vogues.) A quick look at Wikipedia tells me there is Old Vogue, characterized by Egyptian looking poses, and New Vogue which has elements of mime. The latest trend is supposed to be Vogue Fem which comes in two styles - soft and dramatic. The dramatic style includes more gymnastic moves, while the soft style features movements are feminine and delicate looking.The famous Madonna video falls in the category of New Vogue.

Part of the joke is that Quess doesn't seem to be any better at his dance moves than he is at completing his Williams College courses. Ideally, Fem Vogue features feminine movements influenced by ballet, jazz and modern dance. There are five elements of Vogue Fem, all of which are attempted by him:
  • Duckwalk: This is when the dancer squats on their heels and kicks their feet out as they advance forward on the beat.
  • Catwalk: Catwalking is supposed to look like a model walking on a runway. In Fem Vogue, however, the movements are grossly exaggerated.
  • Hands: I don't really understand the elaborate hand movements, but that is part of the dance too.
  • Floorwork: This is the element of Fem Vogue that looks the most like what you would see in a strip club when the performer is lying on the stage. 
  • Spins and Dips: This is the most amazing part of the dance. The trick is to spin and then hit the deck exactly in time with the beat. 
I think what makes the video uploaded by him so funny is that Quess isn't particularly good at the finer points of Vogue Fem. He doesn't look like he has the leg strength, for example, to pull off the duckwalk. He doesn't have the core strength needed to pull off the moves he is attempting in his cring-worthy floorwork. In the video below, he is outperformed in his own routine by a much stronger, clearly better trained white male dancer.

I should point out that I work with dancers and ballet companies and I'm familiar with dance instruction. I don't think I'm some sort of easily shocked prude, either.

The larger issue, of course, is that Quess Green '20 appears to be an example of the unfortunate mismatch which occurs when affirmative action programs place less talented and less well-prepared black students into schools which leave them struggling to keep up. Students like Green would probably do better at a less competitive school where they would fit in and where the pace and intensity of instruction would be a better match with their talent and skill levels.

"In January of 2019, I was asked to take a leave of absence from Williams College because I failed 2 classes in the divisional 3 department, and incurred academic deficiencies," Quess said. "Divisional 3 classes fall under the discipline of math and science, and they are super rigorous for students like me who don't actually major in math or science, or have a past of performing poorly in those kinds of classes. (I was a solid C+ student in science for all of high school)." All in all, it is painful to read what it is like to fall behind in school from his tweets.

Nevertheless, I can imagine the glee of the Williams College admissions officers who thought @hotboiqueso was such a hot catch for the school. His matriculation allowed them to add a flamboyant black, queer student. They undoubtedly thought Quess Green '20 would add enough diversity to the school that it was worth the risk of seeing him fall behind in his studies and potentially quit on them.

Although this is an isolated example, this story illustrates the problematic aspects of accepting students who are not prepared to succeed at Williams College simply because they score high on diversity or adversity scales. It makes me wish for the days when admission to Williams College was based largely on test scores and perhaps athletic skill. The school was once a useful place for training future members of the clergy, professions and the military. Now, however, it looks like it is becoming a joke. A hilariously funny joke, but still a joke.

Nevertheless, I certainly wish Quess Green '20 well. As a Sunday painter, I know - better than most - that sometimes, you only get good at something by not caring about how awful you are at first. 

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.


Anonymous said...

yet another failed attempt at attacking black people by the idiot that is u

Anonymous said...

Just a few questions: 1. have you ever met this young man who you are speaking so rudely of? 2. have you ever vogued?? (ill answer that myself, clearly not) 3. what do you get out of this situation? writing an entire article about a young student who you don’t even know a single thing about. you don’t know the struggles, the hard work, and the heart and soul that Quess put in to get to this point in life. it wasn’t affirmative action that brought Williams this superstar- they picked Quess from a top elite boarding school and they are lucky to have him. I want you to watch that video again and take a close look because every part of Quess, including those (according to you) un-muscular legs are stronger than any fiber in you. All I see in you is a weak coward hiding behind a computer screen who is just jealous because that young man is living his truth and you never got that chance. Since you are also of the Williams caliber of learning why don’t you go watch a Ted talk on cyber bullying- then you might see how incredibly out of line and unprofessional this entire post is and if you have any shred of decency you’ll reconsider and take it down. Also not that it matters to you or that you would understand but Quess is recognized on both the East and West coast ball scenes by LEGENDS who have been vogueing their whole lives. Why don’t you leave the commentating to them and go back to something you actually know about because at this point you’re speaking about things that you don’t know of and embarrassing yourself. Williams college should be ashamed to have a retired professor like you speaking so poorly of students it’s embarrassing for everyone involved. I hope you can find something real to bring you fulfillment in life rather than publicly slandering LGBTQ youth of color. Meanwhile Quess has the rest of his beautiful life in front of him and he is full of talent, love, and light. I would say I wish you well but honestly I just wish you would take a moment to seriously think about what you’ve done here: why bring down a young man that you know so little about in such a public forum? Why? How did you receive your PHD but zero common decency? Not sure how someone so educated could be so ignorant but welcome to America.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. said...

Quess strikes me as the sort of confused, unfocused, immature kid who would have been better off at a less competitive school. He is a victim of educational mismatch. This is sad because Williams College got all sorts of credit for bringing him into the school, but only Quess is going to pay the price for flunking out of the classes that he was unprepared - mentally and perhaps physically - to complete in a timely basis. I work with ballet and dance companies in my business. I may be a better dance critic than you suppose. I don't think you are doing Quess any favors by being unrealistic about his strengths or weaknesses as a dancer. He is old enough to get honest information and change his behavior or seek out better dance instructors as he wishes. Quess has, perhaps, allowed the fact that he started his college career at Williams to blind himself from the fact that if you lose the audience, then you become a joke. There are plenty of ways for him to teach others about Voguing and its role in Afro-Latino history without going so over-the-top that his fellow students laugh at his performance. This takes emotional maturity and practice. I'm expecting that his time away from Williams will give him an opportunity to stabilize his life, build up his support systems, and gain the focus needed to succeed as an adult.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. said...

Unfortunately, Quess's timeline indicates that he has not been successful at Williams College. I cannot tell, from a distance, if this failure was due to his bad habits or some exogenous factor. I can say, however, with great certainty, that he would never have been allowed into Williams College is he were a straight white guy showing the same skill levels. He appears to be a victim of mismatch. He is a casualty of identity politics and critical race theory. I think I know enough about higher education to say that his time at a community college will be a healthy change for him, a time to gain a good foundation prior to his next adventure. I took a year off between my second and third years of graduate school to be an intern in Washington, DC and Los Angeles, CA. I think a lot of my success as a Williams College professor was due to the maturity I gained by taking a break from school.

Anonymous said...

This is an incredibly thinly veiled racist attack against a college student from a grown man. Its not only unsettling and frightening but a bit tragic as well. As a student at a top ten university I find that all of my peers, black and white, gay and straight, and everything else, struggle in school. Top institutions are built to struggle within. What a thoughtless claim that "affirmative action acceptances" (which has clearly been assumed based on this students race) should be at schools where they can "do better" as if there aren't white and black students failing and succeeding at varieties of schools across the nation (and world). I'm honestly disgusted by the rhetoric. And its ironic considering the reality of these institutions is that the students who get accepted and find themselves needing to cheat, or unable to keep up academically...the vast majority of the time are those coming from privileged life styles who have paid their way in. In conclusion, get help sicko.

Anonymous said...

Hey. Have you ever not been a dumbass?

John C. Drew, Ph.D. said...

Back when I was a Marxist graduate student, I never got any complaints. After I became a conservative, however, I found a lot more people started calling me nasty names. I'm still the same, independent thinker. You can be my equal after you earn your Ph.D. and publish your first book.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. said...

I think I'm being fair and objective. Quess isn't studying a field which requires extraordinary math skills like mathematics, physics, or economics. He isn't an English major. I don't see any evidence he got into Williams College because he was above average at test-taking. As I have said elsewhere, he is clearly a victim of academic mismatch. The school, essentially, took advantage of him and apparently had little concern about whether or not he would be able to handle being a student at Williams College. I think it is particularly sad that the folks running the Williams College Museum of Art’s (WCMA) decided to make Quess's cring-worthy dancing the main event at their December opening show. Instead, they should have helped Quess make his studies a higher priority. Giving him another reason to neglect his studies was unhelpful to his college career. They should be ashamed of their callous exploitation of this young man.

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