Why ‘Girls Who Code’ Created a Music Video With Doja Cat – The New Stack


One of my favorite moments over the past year has been a very creative attempt to make long term changes to the world of computer programming – when rap artist Doja Cat released what she calls “the world’s first encodable video clip. “

This is all part of a larger campaign to attract young women to IT. Or, like Girls Who Code later tweeted, “Okay, it’s official. Doja Cat just might be the coolest coding teacher of all time.

The nonprofit was launched in 2012 specifically to bridge the gender gap in tech – and part of that mission is to bring young girls interested in the field of IT.

“When I founded Girls Who Code, I took a bet”, founder Reshma saujani recently tweeted. “You don’t close the gender gap in tech just by teaching girls to code. You have to change our whole culture. Attitudes about what coding is and what it can help us do. About who is an encoder and what an encoder looks like. “

And that’s where Doja Cat comes in.

Fun lineup on “Planet Her”

A special website displays Doja Cat’s latest music video in a single interface that allows viewers to edit the frames of the video using computer code – and it has been a huge success. When Girls Who Code tweeted an announcement about the new site, it attracted over 1,000 retweets and 2,714 likes. (The first response to the tweet came from Barbie’s official Twitter account, which replied: “Incredible. ”)

In a statement, Girls Who Code said, “The purpose of the experiment is to show a new generation of fans who may not be aware of career opportunities in tech and IT. , how creative and fun it can be. “

And a buzz started to build up quickly …

By Christmas, YouTube posted more than 40 million views for the new video in its first three weeks alone – and it still attracted nearly a million new views every day. And part of that comes from teenage girls accessing the video through DojaCode.com, enjoying its unique blend of education and fun.

Screenshot of DojaCode dot com

The clip shows Doja Cat as the leader of “Planet Her,” receiving an urgent warning about the men stealing her throne. But for viewers of DojaCode.com, the video ends with a close-up of Queen Doja’s glamorous fingernails, as an on-screen prompt prompts visitors to type in a new color name in a line of code. CSS highlighted at the bottom left of the screen.

When they start typing, the site automatically fills in some suggestions, including nail color themed choices like rainbow, pixels, water, snake, leopard, and reptile. . There’s a question mark icon in a circle for anyone who’s confused, but it again raises the same simple challenge: “Type in any color you want.” “

And the long nails in the close-up instantly change to the color entered by the visitor.

The video pauses again when it hits a mysterious vortex of magical golden sparks – this time showing a clip of Javascript code in the lower left corner of the screen. “Activate the power of Doja,” the comment suggests, highlighting three lines of JavaScript code and suggesting to viewers, “Try typing any number.”

There are named variables particles.height and particles.speed (as well as a text variable named particles.color) – and of course, changing the values ​​of variables brings changes to the moving image.

The fresh creativity of song and video somehow permeates the challenges of programming. “Bring your heaven to Planet Her,” suggests a subsequent comment, allowing users to enter their own values ​​into named JavaScript variables date.timeZone (as good as sky.clouds.type, and sky.tint.Color).

And the final coding challenge? “Create a flower shower – change the number and color of the flowers.” Emma Roth, editor-in-chief of the weekend’s news at Le Verge, wrote that “While the DojaCode video doesn’t involve intense programming, I still found it fun to experiment by typing in different options and seeing my changes take effect instantly.” “

And at the end of the video, viewers are invited to save screenshots of their work from any of the four challenges – or share the site link on Twitter or Facebook.

Doja Cat nails from the Woman video - moment_1

Make coding cool

this is the end result of a serious three-way collaboration that included activist marketing agency Mojo Supermarket, which in 2020 established an online portal for watching the Oscars live broadcast where all the commercials were replaced with female-directed movie trailers.

RCA Records paired them with Active Theory, a creative digital production studio that creates unique apps and websites, as well as installations and even VR and AR experiences. (Among other things, the studio worked with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on an educational site listing all the standard parts you would need to build your own Mars rover.)

All the collaborators seemed to come to the project with a clear objective. Emilie Berger, creative director of Mojo Supermarket, said in the project announcement that “We want more girls to try coding.” But there are a thousand other things that girls are more interested in than coding. And Doja Cat is like 999 of them. So we were like… Can Doja make learning code cool? “

And the director of the video (who is called child.) added in the statement that “this project has been particularly meaningful and unique to me. Seeing more inclusion in the creative fields is something that really excites me, so being part of a project that gives young girls exposure to a whole new industry, while also acting as Creative Directors of Planet Her while using code, really means a lot. “

Doja Cat says she is also very excited about the partnership. “Fans around the world will be able to enter code through a microsite and unlock some really cool special features,” she said in project announcement, adding that “It’s gonna be awesome.”

And on Girls Who Code’s Twitter feed, the organization shared some of the enthusiastic reactions. “I’ve always been the only girl in my coding lessons,” one viewer tweeted. “I used to hide my femininity because I was afraid of not being taken seriously. That’s why it means so much to me. Thank you.”

The right model?

The site has an added cachet with teenagers as Doja Cat is emerging as one of the hottest names in pop music. 2020 saw her set a guinness world record, as a member of the first female rap duo (with Nicki Minaj) to have a record number one on the “Billboard Hot 100” charts in the United States.

By the end of 2021, she had won 11 Grammy nominations and had 18 million followers on Instagram, plus 4 million on Twitter. (A October article in Forbes noted his “aloof, irreverent, chronically online persona,” but also “a tireless work ethic.”)

But not everyone is convinced their video sends the right message. Anita Lavakumar, the director of the Boston Public Schools computer program, is a Girls Who Code fan and called the programmable video a “great idea.” But Lavakumar too questioned the choice of song, asking “How the hell are sexual images and ‘let me be your wife’ lyrics supposed to empower women?”

Lavakumar also wondered what age group the video was ultimately aimed at and complained that the exercise ultimately “missed the mark.”

Or, as a commentator on the Verge Put the, “I’m not sure that a music video with half-naked girls circling around in jeweled bikinis is the right imagery.”

The weigh-in was also Lindsey sachs, specialist in technological integration in an independent Catholic academy for students from kindergarten to eighth grade. Sachs used Girls Who Code material with college girls, and tweeted about the video, “I know they would love this experience.”

But Sachs felt the video was too sexual (and included alcohol consumption), ultimately calling it “inappropriate.” She also complained that in the video Doja Cat visually sent the wrong message as well. “Sorry, I won’t be using this to introduce coding to my school,” she tweeted.

To be fair, in the site’s version of the song, some explicit words are replaced with a rapid drop in the volume of the vocal track, just like a radio. And a commentator on the Verge vs that “It’s great to see a role model that a lot of girls are looking for to promote STEM in a fun way.”

Jacqueline Petits, program manager at Code.org, also specifically applauded the video “to make relevant connections to inspire young women to code!” “

And calling him “so inspiring for a generation of women and girls pursuing STEM“, The non-profit Do Something for young people also hailed it as” a reminder that there is so much more in the field than what is advertised “.

In fact, Girls Who Code declaration noted that this is all part of a series of campaigns “designed to transform the common narrative of what a coder looks and does.” Empowering girls and people from groups under-represented in tech to see themselves as the future of the industry is key to fulfilling the organization’s North Star mission of bridging the gender gap. in technology by 2030. ”

On Twitter the organization added that “We believe partnering with a Grammy-nominated superstar is an incredible step towards achieving this transformation.”

And perhaps to make the point, deeply and emphatically, they shared a reaction video from software engineer Slack. Maya bello, who gushed: “I don’t think my heart has ever been so happy before.”


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