Real Things

[The] Volkswagen Jetta ad in which the cut-out bodies of Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor “dance” “in the back seat” of a Jetta … comes from about the 5:45 point in this performance that Kelly and O’Connor did on a TV special, where you’ll see much of what you see in the ad. All they did was remove all the context.

That’s the funny thing about Gene Kelly, and really all the big dance scenes of the time — they were all context. … Dancing in movies in this era was largely about where you were, and about touching real things. Other people, of course, but also feet on the floor, feet in the water, umbrella in hand, hat rack as partner, and by the way, if you want to defy gravity, you’ll have to turn the room.

… something seems tone-deaf and disrespectful about removing everything that affected the physics of the dancing, from the floor to the chairs, replacing the music so they’re interpreting something entirely different, and concluding that you can still get an expression of these two men’s talents as long as you have their floating, context-free figures moving as they did in 1960.

Linda Holmes

This analysis reminded me of Albert Borgmann’s focal things and practices.