Sunday, October 23, 2016

Bottle-flipping fad is latest tween obsession

As "Lord of the Flies" taught us, if tween boys are left to their own devices, they will come up with some pretty adorable pastimes. Like hunting and killing the less popular members of their group, or flipping a plastic bottle in the air in the hope that it lands standing up. Whatever helps to pass that grim, drafty gap between childhood and the rat race.

What, you haven't heard of the plastic bottle-flipping craze which has swept schools this year? It began with a video of a boy who, as his "talent" at an assembly, flipped a water bottle and landed it on a table standing up. From there, it was on, coast to coast; boys tossing bottles through basketball hoops, off trampolines, over their backs, trying to stick that landing. Why? Because it satisfies that part of the pre-adolescent male brain which glories in meaningless skills, a trait which will pop up again years later when he discovers golf.

It is driving teachers nuts, apparently, the pop-pop-popping sound of one-third-full plastic bottles hitting the ground in the quad, or even in the classroom. Some schools have banned flipping, which seems like the wrong reaction. I say monetize it. Charge a buck a day per flipper, give him a wristband, have tournaments and split the pot between the daily champion and the ASB. Whatever it takes so I can stop having to bake freakin' brownies.

I think part of flipping's appeal involves the four elements of the physics involved; the water, the gravity, the rotation and the showing off. YouTube has entire channels devoted to clips of amateur sports stunts. Any kid can come up with a plastic bottle, a few ounces of water, and the free time to film endless retakes.

Our grandfathers pitched pennies, but the winner got all the pennies tossed. Those guys grew up to be captains of industry. My generation streaked; a joke which today would get you on a permanent sex offender's list. This fad seems more suited to our times, a celebration of random odds, modest in its risks and its pleasures. Irritating to adults. Irresistible.

Nobody I asked has ever seen a girl flip a bottle. It makes sense. Girls' brains at that age are too busy building the psychological padding they will need to ignore the dumb junk males do, a vital neural development which is the only thing that allows the species to continue.




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See the original flip clip which started it all. I think it went viral because of the crowd's outsized reaction even more than the act itself. Overreacting to this modest success seems to be part of the appeal.

Here are more examples (since, like these kids, you have a lot of time to kill) all together in a compilation of epic flipping for you (many of them clearly faked with camera tricks, but some real): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy15RA6Rs0c







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