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The backlash against Sonic floss-dancing seems really unreasonable and clueless to an old fan, and it's interesting to ponder why.

Scritch the Cat

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While the Sonic movies have been unexpectedly huge hits, given what seemed like a perfect storm going against them, one thing seems to be really hated: Sonic floss-dancing.  Many people online just refer to this as the "Fortnite Dance", despite it not originating in that game, and to be fair, it's likely that game that made it popular, so Sonic is flossing as a shoutout to its fandom.  People are calling this a naked attempt to jump on a bandwagon, because that's exactly what it is...but as someone who’s been here since 1991, I'm left to ponder when exactly Sonic doing this became a problem, and why.

Sonic was created to jump on trends, becoming a version of cool that took shape in the late 1980s with things like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Bill & Ted, but really went into overdrive in the 1990s.  Some may assume that this was solely a product of American marketing, and that's likely somewhat true in terms of English phrases like "Way past cool", "Dude with a 'tude", and "Aww yeah, this is happening", but from the top down in Japan, the idea had always been to make a refined cool mascot that made SEGA seem like it was on the cutting edge.  Naoto Oshima copied Michael Jackson's shoes for Sonic, his movement and most iconic stages took obvious inspiration from extreme sports moves, and an early commercial for Sonic had him moon-walking and breakdancing atop a Rols-Royce driven by someone who looked like Vanilla Ice.  Sonic played guitar in his cartoons.  Sonic not only embodied the 1990s version of cool, he might be the most responsible entity for codifying it.  For a while, mouthy and in-your-face animal mascots became the big thing that marketers banked on.  Most, though, became either underwhelming, as with Radical Rex, or annoying, as with Bubsy and Gex, and even within the 1990s this fad was already being savagely mocked, in places like The Simpsons.   Meanwhile, Sonic entered his first dark age in the Saturn era, and by the time he got his second wind on the SEGA Dreamcast, it was probably already too late.  Then months later, Sonic Adventure 2: Battle exploded onto the Nintendo Gamecube, and I think this may have been the moment the mass-perception of Sonic changed.

Undeniably, Sonic Adventure 2: Battle was many fans' first Sonic game.  I could write a whole separate essay about how it was the perfect game to present to Nintendo players as Sonic's first impression (albeit probably accidentally), but for the moment, let's examine legions of gamers from a different era, on a different console, by a different company, starting up the Hero story and getting absolutely dumbfounded by the sight of Sonic leaping off a helicopter thousands of feet in the air, twirling down on a makeshift snowboard while flashing a cocky grin.  It's the gloriously ridiculous epitome of the 1990s 'tude Sonic had always embodied, but now it was being experienced by an audience who hadn't experienced that archetype being saturated and burnt out.  So if Sonic in the early 1990s had been a totally radical character, Sonic in the early 2000s was more-or-less the totally radical character.  Sonic to the new generation of fans had his trademark personality but now it also felt unique.  That this character had been originally designed to pander to what was already rather popular was a lost detail.  To these people, Sonic was just Sonic, and to see Sonic pandering to newer trends would feel like sacrilege.

And to be fair, it really did.  It would take only a few years before SEGA went all in on new fads with Shadow the Hedgehog, and even to those fans whose only experience of Sonic was a mere handful of games made within a few years, it was obvious just how inappropriate that game was to the series.  Then 06 dawned and failed to correct course.  Of course, 2000s era fans, many of which had been Team Nintendo in the Console Wars, were not the only Sonic fans; those people who had become fans of the series on the Genesis were still around and many were none-too-happy with where the series had gone on the Dreamcast.  For those early third-party years, much of Sonic fan discussion consisted of debates between Genesis Sonic fans and Dreamcast/Gamecube Sonic fans, and whose version of Sonic was better, but by the time the next Dark Age rolled in, every Sonic fan had reason to feel betrayed.  In a few short years, the Sonic franchise had gone from one of the most impressive success stories of trying hard to be cool, to one of the most laughable failures of trying hard to be cool, but in the process a lot of people have come to see trying hard to be cool as a bug in this franchise, as opposed to a feature.

So now, there are lots and lots of people who cringe every time the Sonic Twitter account tweets out a meme, and of course, the rage at floss-dancing follows suit; all with no apparent awareness that this sort of pop-culture pandering is what Sonic was created to do. 

Interestingly enough, the movies arguably provide a canon explanation for why Sonic is like this.  He spent a decade isolated, wanting to forge social connections but thinking it would be too dangerous, and so he latched onto those bits of culture he could glean from TV and perceive from afar.  The result is Sonic came to value things that others might find frivolous, but not at the expense of also having more sound values where it really counts.

Now with all that said, some of the references Sonic makes in those films are going to get dated.  Some of them maybe were dated even when he said them there.  There are jokes that will get people scratching their heads, or maybe cringing for their overexposure.   But seriously, flossing is peoples' biggest complaint here?!  It's a dance!  Sonic kept breakdancing right into the 2000s, as a victory celebration and sometimes even as a means of combat, and people accepted it, but the moment he floss-danced, that crossed some invisible line?  I for one don't see what the fuss is about.  Might breakdancing have more lasting appeal than floss-dancing?  Maybe; it certainly takes more talent and athleticism to do.  But to make such a stink about what particular dance Sonic is doing ignores that

1) Desire to move in almost any sort of way is one Sonic's most enduring character traits.

2) Dance fads don't age as badly as many other things.

There may well come a day when flossing ceases to be popular, and fades into obscurity.  But do you think future audiences will care?  I don't.  Their interpretation will simply be that Sonic's dancing; no irritation that they don't recognize the dance step.

Also, have you actually tried floss-dancing?  I have, and it's actually kind of fun!  Am I part of the problem in many people's opinions for saying that?  Well, too bad, and again, please grow some introspection, because merely by being here on a board posting positive opinions of Sonic, we are part of a problem in many people's opinions.

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That's a lot of post to defend a dance that is cringe and lame and cringe. smh

In seriousness, it's fine. It fits movie!Sonic's really "impressionable kid" thing. It's not as cool or as well-using Sonic's speed and athleticism as breakdancing, but I guess if it makes the children cheer then okay.

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16 hours ago, Scritch the Cat said:

went all in on new fads with Shadow the Hedgehog, and even to those fans whose only experience of Sonic was a mere handful of games made within a few years, it was obvious just how inappropriate that game was to the series.

Off topic first…ouch. That line saddens me.

More importantly On topic: i don’t get the annoyance over the floss Dance Personally. But when I think of it and how goofy it is, i also think of the “cabbage patch” and the “runnin’ man” dances, which are also pretty goofy dances. It is what it is. It’s not breakdancing, but it is related to one of the “cool” things of the current age

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That the op says is absolutely true. As much as I hate to admit it. Sonic was created to pander to what was cool in the minds of 10 year old boys. And what is cool in the minds of 10 year old boys has of course changed in 30 years time.

I think a lot of us adult fans have been kinda spoiled by the fact that for the most part, Sonic's brand of cool has remained largely the same as it was when he first appeared due to the fact that so much of it exists in the characters' very design, abilities and main role within his universe. Sonic still sports his Michael Jackson shoes and punk inspired quills after all, and he's still the young rebel that fights the evil destroyer of the environment. The aspects of Sonic that pander to kids in the early 90's are enternal parts of the franchise and can't be removed. And for a long time, we've gotten used to the idea that this simply is Sonic's brand of cool, no matter how outdated it gets.

Maybe the movie version of Sonic is the first real attempt at updating Sonic's cool to an entirely new generation. All of those 90's cool traits I mentioned are still there of course for the reasons that I said, but the characters' personality seem to genuinly have been changed to pander to zoomer kids. Sonic is now the kind of post-modern person that almost every young person are these days that connects whatever happens to him to various pop culture references. He's also softer and less edgy than he's ever been before. This is something I notice in male heroes in childerns media these days when compared to their older couterparts. Almost everyone is kinda pleasant and personable instead of just being badass all the time. Also, in particular, the Bart Simpson-esque "brats" that insults everyone, the kind of person that Sonic was very much tauted as being in western marketing in the 90's (and also the version of Sonic that we see in the OVA, leading me to conclude that this was indeed also how Sega of Japan envisioned the character at that time), are almost gone as far as main characters go. You can have a bully character be like that, but not the main hero.

So yeah, movie Sonic is basically what you get when you take the shell of old Sonic, a shell created in the 90's and impossible to change unless you wanna create an entirely new character, but suck out the old personality that pandered to an audience that doesn't exist anymore because they grew up, and replace it with a new one that panders to the kids of now. And this new personality has to include flossing for maximum pander points. And "I can't even with this guy...". It makes me throw up in my mouth a little, but that's beside the point. I'm pretty sure my parents threw up a little when they heard Sonic say "tubular" in SatAM back in the day.

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