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I Talk to Louis Theroux About That Rap
“Jiggle jiggle, I like it when you wiggle wiggle"
I decided to get in touch with my friend Louis Theroux this week, to ask about his rap — commonly known as “Jiggle jiggle, I like it when you wiggle” — going viral 14 years after he’d first laid down those iconic verses.
But first — a few quick Arise Church updates.
There’s been a video update from the external review, Pathfinding, which you can watch here. In short, Charlotte Cummings says 190 people have “engaged in the review” so far, which closes public submissions on May 12.
She also says “Throughout this process, we have communicated openly with the New Zealand Police, and have had independent legal advice.”
I find myself wondering what John Cameron thinks of all this. What his brother Brent thinks. According to the leaked internal Arise memo, John intends to simply return to his role once the review is over.
My inbox filled with anger after I published that memo.
A sign appeared overnight on a motorway leading to one of Arise’s many campuses.
People are pissed.
I emailed the Arise Board about that leaked memo: I wanted to give them the opportunity to clarify the information it contained, and who sent it.
Had John Cameron gone rogue and ghost written the thing, or was it Board sanctioned? I expected the Board to actually want to respond to this one, but as usual they replied with a series of “we can’t talk about it”, before accusing me of a series of “errors” (that I’d never actually made).
I detail their emails to me separately here, as they’re just so weird.
Many Arise Church leaders appear to have gone private on social media. I haven’t come across any who acknowledge any of Webworm’s reporting — or the wider reporting about the abuse at Arise.
The closest I’ve come to seeing anyone referencing reality in any way was a post Ben Kendrew, the pastor who took over from Brent Cameron in Christchurch:
“THROUGH THICK AND THIN” it was titled. It appeared to be an appreciation post for Ben’s wife (also an Arise pastor) and went on to say “In every season, and we’ve had some doozies, I’m with you”.
I thought of all the hideous stories I’ve been reporting over the last month. I thought of the other hideous stories (documented in about 100 emails) I can’t report yet for various reasons, which now live rent free in my head — and in the reality of those who sent them to me.
That anger that’s been under my skin for the last month rippled, and I posted this underneath like a stupid little troll. I couldn’t help it:
“What a doozie.”
Ben Kendrew responded by locking his comments, and adding a PS at the end: “Apologies to anyone who thought I was making light of any situation.”
It’s not exactly a big surprise having someone in leadership at Arise responding by making other people out to be the idiots. Stupid dummies, us. Plausible deniability is Arise’s game, and they play it well. John Cameron has taught them well.
Okay. Let’s talk to Louis Theroux.
“Jiggle jiggle, I like it when you wiggle wiggle"
a conversation with Louis Theroux
It’s no secret that I love Louis Theroux. Most of my work is informed by his stuff. I discovered Weird Weekends back when I was trying to get into medical school in 2002.
His documentaries got under my skin, and I have no doubt they played a part in me completely changing direction, signing up for journalism school in New Zealand.
There was this confounding idea at the time that the documentarian or journalist had to remove themselves from the story entirely. While they were the ones doing the interview and writing the voice over, they had to pretend — for the sake of objectivity — that they weren’t there.
Louis didn’t do this. He was deeply embedded in the narrative. His work was less interview and more conversation. And he’d throw himself into the action. Instead of going to a swingers party and standing in the corner in the name of objectivity (which doesn’t exist) — he would go and take part. When doing a documentary on porn stars, he’d get nude and have his headshots taken.
It made for riveting, honest work — and it was entertaining. Louis knew that making something entertaining — and often funny — was a really good way to get information across to his audience.
And so I hoovered up his work, and of course it bled into my work. Years later I ended up crossing paths with him and found him to be as lovely, funny and thoughtful as he was in his shows.
So when I saw an old bit from Weird Weekends had gone viral on TikTok — delivering Louis Theroux to a whole new generation — I dropped him an email to see what he made of it all.
Oh — if you haven’t heard Duke and Jones’ auto-tuned 2022 version already, you should probably watch it first:
Hi Louis how are you today?
I’m really well. I’m just running a bath for my seven-year-old, and I thought I’d see if I could answer your questions in the time it takes for it to fill up.
An old rap you performed on Weird Weekends — a show I watched all through university — is suddenly everywhere. When were you first aware of this?
I actually can’t remember too clearly, but I think it might have been when my agent got in touch to say that people at TikTok had been in touch with her to say that the rap had become a viral phenomenon, and did I want to do anything — like join TikTok, or maybe contribute to it it some way, do a dance or something.
That put it on my radar and then afterwards I was just aware of it continuing on in very weird ways.
I was wondering if you could tell me about that rap, in its original form. First can you take me back to the writing of it.. was that you ad-libbing, or had you written it prior, or was a team of top producers and record execs behind it?
The composition of the rap is the subject of a scene in an episode of Weird Weekends from 2000, entitled Weird Weekends: Gangsta Rap.
I was in Jackson Mississippi, and I had an arrangement with two Jackson rappers, Reese and Bigalow, to write something for me to rap on a radio show out of Baton Rouge, LA, that showcased amateurs.
In the shower, I thought of “Jiggle jiggle, I like it when you wiggle, it makes me dribble, fancy a fiddle?”
I took that to them, and they turned the jiggling of an attractive woman into the jingling of loose change (“My money don’t jiggle jiggle”) and then added the genius touch which is “it folds”… then we wrote the other lines together.
Just to say, though, there is a second verse which isn’t in the finished version.
But just a week or so ago, I recorded the whole rap, both verses, with the producers, Duke and Jones, who did the remix that went viral.
I should also shout out Amelia Dimoldenberg. It was me doing the rap on her YouTube show earliest this year, to promote my new series Forbidden America (which also features an episode about rap! And a freestyle by me!) that kick-started this whole thing.
She is huge with the kids, so millions watched the interview and it went from there.
This is a hack question, but how did that episode stack up in your list of Weird Weekend episodes?
Gangsta Rap is definitely top 10 — and many would put it top five.
When we did the first DVD compilation of the “best four”, we included it — so that tells you something.
What’s good about it IMHO is that it respects the genre while also finding comedy in it.
I should mention that the episode was directed by the brilliant Kate Townsend, who is now a star commissioner at Netflix. I had wanted to do an episode about rap for a while, and it’s hard world to crack — they are suspicious of outsiders and they don’t really need the kind of publicity BBC Two can offer.
One of the things that made the episode work is that we made it in the South — Mississippi and Louisiana. The South was just blowing up, but it seemed to me they were still grateful for some international press. In Jackson especially.
Speaking of context — this thing now has a whole new life. I told you about the video that made me lose it —
— what is it like seeing this thing you did fired around the internet millions of times, in vastly different contexts?
I haven’t been across it as closely as I probably should. I only saw that clip after you sent it to me, and it was very odd.
I still can’t quite make sense of it.
Yesterday I saw AOC in the US had posted a version, which was obviously amazing for me, and kind of surreal.
What is your overall takeaway from this. Like if you were writing your final bit of voice over for an episode on this, what would you say? People can read it in your voice when they read it.
“Leaving TikTok I reflected that the virality it promised — and a reach that spans the world while remaining as shallow as a phone screen — was maybe more pleasurable for being so fleeting… and the mystery of the connection over a forgotten rap was, like a butterflies wings, was unknowable and yet nevertheless beating a new reality into the universe.”
That might need another pass…
Told you Louis was a nice guy, right?
I hope you enjoyed the insight — and had a wee giggle. Webworm’s been pretty heavy lately, and I just felt we could all come up for air together.
This doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep chasing Arise and their ilk — Webworm will always be about weird rabbit holes — and a lot of bad men doing bad things.
Gotta keep an eye on that stuff. Gotta call it out.