There's a number of videos making the rounds of Fall Commencement this year at Grambling State University in Louisiana. It's ummmm, uh, well -- the fact of the matter is, you have to see it to believe it:
I am so incredibly conflicted by that video. I love the celebration, the collective party (and that "Neck" tune has become EXTREMELY popular with almost all black college bands these days and the fact of the matter is that I love it, too) but -- Grambling !!! -- this makes a mockery of the graduation exercise.
How in the hell does the administration at Grambling not understand that?
What the hell are they doing allowing the band to play "Neck" at graduation !?!
Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries !!!
So many folks these days can't quite seem to grasp the necessity of not only boundaries but the wisdom of the all-important social conventions of time, place, and manner. In short: decorum. I say this all the time to friends and acquaintances when we're bitching about the sorry state of so many kids these days. This video, however, says many folks in my generation and niche culture (adults in their 40s and 50s who are either administrators at black colleges or married to folks who are) can be faulted for being just as guilty.
The problem, of course, isn't limited to black culture (although I honestly can't imagine a white university having this kind of problem display at graduation -- a different kind of problem display, yes, but not this). It's just that "Neck" bubbled up out of black culture and, well, sadly it has to be admitted that there's something very familiar about this kind of excess.
That said, check out the problem they have at LSU with the playing of "Neck" at their football games. They, too, have fallen in love with the song and their irreverent kids have changed the lyrics from "heyyyyyyyyyyyy ohhhh, talking out the side of your neck" and "neckkkkkkkkkk, you talking out the side of your neck" to something quite, quite different:
Once again, boundaries. Once again, decorum.
As for the song that inspired the college compositions, here's the version released by Cameo:
The college stuff is much better, wouldn't you say? They took a very catchy riff, played it up, and left all the rest alone. It may be stretching things beyond all genuine comprehension but I suspect (wish?) there's a broader decorum lesson found in the musical process by which an average, at best, song was transformed into something quite memorable via the contemplation -- in part -- of time, place and manner restrictions.