Students at historic Highgate School give parents a shock with 50 Cent mime video

Thursday, 12th September 2013

Published: 12 September, 2013
by RICHARD OSLEY

IT is one of the leading private schools in the country where hard work and top-ranked tutorship over generations has helped nurture some of Britain’s brightest brains.

But students at the prestigious Highgate School, whose alumni include an array of high court judges, have shown they are not all about high-end philosophy and dusty literature.

In a “leavers’ video” made by A-level stage teenagers at the 400-year-old school in Highgate village before they headed off to university degree courses, students ditch their classical studies to mime – and writhe – along to controversial rapper 50 Cent’s hit Candy Shop instead.

The risqué segment, part of a 40-minute film, has been seen by 6,000 internet viewers since being made public for anybody in the world to see on YouTube.

In lighthearted style, pupils are seen reproducing the gyrating dance moves often seen in the hip-hop star’s videos, including shots of students apparently dancing around a pole in the school’s tuck shop while holding half-peeled bananas and “twerking” – the bottom-thrusting dance recently popularised by Miley Cyrus. Two male students strip down to their underwear.

50 Cent, a former drug dealer who has been shot nine times, has had a string of chart hits. The lyrics of Candy Shop include the line, “Go ahead girl, don’t you stop, keep going till you hit the spot”, although the rapper said at the time of its release: “I attempted to be as sexual as possible, from a male perspective, without being vulgar or obscene.”

There has been a boom in leavers’ videos among fee-paying schools across the country.

Some suggest the films are a fun, modern equivalent of an end-of-term photograph. A catalogue of the films have been uploaded to YouTube, naturally generating competiton among pupils to produce the funniest and most watched.

Although clearly a parody, the innuendo in Highgate’s 2013 film surprised parents who had enjoyed last year’s more sedate leavers video, which included the coup appearance of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, jokily giving advice to the football team.

Staff are well aware of the capacity for end-of-term high-jinks at the school, which began admitting girls for the first time in 2006.

A separate film posted on YouTube in May shows a mass collection of pupils in PacMan costumes racing through the grounds in fits of laughter with waterguns, an inflatable penis and smokey, coloured flares.

This follows the tradition of the annual “muck up day” at the end of summer term.

Headmaster Adam Pettitt said last night (Wednesday): "I honestly think that the growing tradition of leavers' films is not meant to harm, and the uploading on to public websites in leavers' minds is to get them seen by friends and rivals rather than by those who will rightly be taken aback."

He added: "Irony is a double-edged sword, but the clip in the Highgate leavers' film is meant ironically: these are girls and boys who have grown up together from age 11 and have the utmost respect for each other, whose relationships have been trusting and affectionate yes, and also long-term and loyal."

"So I read this as a co-ed year group parodying the sexism in much of the media and in society. But it isn't well judged and, given that it could give offence and send out the opposite message to that which I believe was intended, it's unfortunate that it was filmed at all."

"Highgate understands the need for high jinks and admires the ingenuity that brought much of this film to life, but regrets the making and uploading of this particular clip, and hopes that any parent with a concern, such as the one who brought the film to the attention to the Camden New Journal, will wish to contact the school. I know that this year group would be upset to know that their film had given offence and would be quick to offer their apologies."

YOUTUBE FILM: Watch the Highgate School Leavers film which caused a stir:

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