Answer Tuesday! (SG Forum)

We’ll start off this song-girl forum with the longest question ever.

Q: I saw where the readers of this blog, as well as yourself, have mocked the Stanford Dollies, but I think everyone is missing the point of the Dollies. The reason the Stanford Dollies come across as being the way they are is because they are mocking the very notion of cheerleaders by being “anti-cheerleaders.” Likewise, the Stanford Band are mocking college marching bands by being an “anti-band.” And that’s the irony of the Stanford Dollies.

As opposed to cheer squads for other schools, the Stanford Dollies get an entirely new squad each year, with no girl being allowed to serve more than one year on the squad. They are not selected for their dancing abilities, cheerleading experience or physical appearance, but whether they “get” the irony. So that’s why they’re so ragtag and un-cheerleaderlike, which is why most people think they are such a poor squad. But that’s part of the inside joke. Now whether one thinks it is a funny joke or not is another matter. Some people at Stanford think the joke is based on wit that comes from being a top academic institution like Stanford, while something like the Stanford Dollies would never work at the lower-tier Pac-10 institutions like Oregon State and Arizona State. I doubt the alumni or students of those schools would get the “irony.” In fact, I am friends with some Stanford alumni who do not see the wit in the antics of their band and actually consider them to be an embarrassment.

Now if you put the USC Song Girls in this equation, they have slid in this past decade from excellence to mediocrity to an outright national embarrassment. As opposed to the Stanford Dollies, the reason for why the USC Song Girls have been embarrassing during this decade has not been to due to a sudden adoption of irony, but actual mismanagement of the squad. The reason the Song Girls have not had pretty girls or particularly good dancers this decade, often dancing completely out of sync with one another, has not been due to any kind of “inside joke” or “anti-cheerleader” wit, but rather due to the girls who have been on the squad not being Song Girl material and making the squad for reasons other than merit and appearance.

So while many people mock the Stanford Dollies, they are missing the irony of what they represent. Are they a joke that dance out of unison and do not look like stereotypical cheerleaders? Yes. But that’s the joke. That’s the irony of the Stanford Dollies. The USC Song Girls have been just as bad this decade but they have not been part of a deliberate attempt to mock the institution of cheerleaders as a result of an inside joke. Do you see the difference now between the Stanford Dollies and the USC Song Girls, and if you get the irony of what the Stanford Dollies are trying to convey, do you see their purpose?

A: Yes.

Q: Would you consider Natalie Nelson to be the ultimate symbol of the USC Song Girls of the 2000s? Consider this:

1) She represented the notion of nepotism on the squad. 2) Obtained captaincy within mere months of being on the squad over longer-serving members.
3) Had her friend from high school join the squad and also became a captain within months over longer-serving members.
4) Involved in multiple relationships with football players.
5) (In)famously cheered for the wrong team during the biggest game of the year.
6) Wore the jersey of the opposing team.
7) Became famous the world over for her support of other schools.
8) Remained on the squad even after failing to meet minimum eligibility requirements of enrolled units.

A: Yes.

Q: Are you surprised by the longevity of the song girl cheering for Texas story and how it has been picked up by such a vast number of national media outlets this past week? Will this follow her for the rest of her life?

A: It’s a testimony to the internet and the power it has today. I saw a video the other day where a USC cheerleader was shown cheering at the wrong moment. If these things happened 20 years ago, no one would know about them. Or we’d see it once. Maybe.

Q: Tricia Pillsbury was a print journalism major at USC. Do you think she would be embarrassed by what Ben Malcolmson has written about the Song Girls in the name of “journalism”?

A: Wait a second. Tricia Pillsbury was a print journalism major?!?!?!? Are you sure? I didn’t have any classes with her. Then again, we were a couple years apart. I think she would be embarrassed by quite a few things regarding the song girls.

Kyle Bunch

Partnerships for R/GA Ventures. Raised in California, adopted by Texas. Opinions expressed here are mine and they are fantastic.

2 thoughts on “Answer Tuesday! (SG Forum)

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