Chilliwack school board byelection candidate Carin Bondar says she stands by a video she made years ago that parodied a famous pop song.
The biology educator created a video in 2014 for YouTube that mimicked Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball, complete with the same provocative imagery that Cyrus used in her hit video. In that video, released in 2013, Cyrus sits on an actual wrecking ball in a white tank top, underwear and boots while it swings back and forth. She also licks a sledgehammer at one point. By the end of the video, the pop star is nude except for her boots.
Bondar’s version was meant as parody, and follows the original fairly closely, nudity included. But the Bondar version is all about science, and designed to promote science. She titled it Organisms Do Evolve, and the subject is natural selection.
Bondar is known for using a bit of shock and artistic presentation to get her messages across as a scientist. But now she is running for a seat on the Chilliwack school board in the Feb. 13 byelection, and the video has caught the eye of the community.
Chilliwack trustee Barry Neufeld shared it in a private Facebook group, without adding any comment. And in the past few days screenshots from the video, and those from a series called Wild Sex, have been circulating around social media with various descriptions of their origins. One commenter even suggested it was from a pornographic film.
When The Progress questioned Bondar on the video’s origins and whether she felt it was appropriate to keep online, she said she stands by her work.
“I create work that exists at the intersection of art and science. I am excited to inspire the students in our district to create their own paths forward, whether they are well-trodden or not,” she said. “I took the opportunity to create a piece about evolution and yes, the approach was cheeky. The piece received considerable coverage across the world including a story in Discover Magazine (USA) and Business Insider (Australia), and I covered it for my own blog at Scientific American Magazine.”
She added some background to how her career evolved into talking about animal sex. It began when she finished her PhD, and had her young children with her at home.
“I started blogging and writing about many aspects of biology and animal behaviour,” she said. “I did this as an outlet for the long and exhausting tasks of motherhood, but I also found that I had a knack for it. I noted that audiences were always more interested and invested when the topic had something to do with sex. Let’s face it – humans think about sex a lot, so it follows that it makes for an excellent teaching tool in many areas of biology.”
Her work caught a lot of people’s attention, and she was invited to shoot a series called Wild Sex in South Africa, for Earth Touch TV.
“It was a purposefully provocative show, the approach was a risk,” she said. “However; the risk paid off. The series has garnered more than 130 million views and has led to two books and two further series. I’m currently in direct discussions with major networks for another series for which I will be executive producer, writer and host.”
Her work is also featured on Discovery Channel, The Science Channel, National Geographic, Animal Planet and Netflix.
She said the initial Wild Sex series was intended for a young adult audience and that there are other Wild Sex series that are animated and more appropriate for younger audiences. She knows of teachers who use them in their classrooms, and she uses them in public lectures.
Bondar said she is aware that some people are taking screenshots from the series and sharing them, in some cases manipulating their meaning.
“Being a strong, educated female scientist in the public eye has taught me to weather negativity with grace,” she said. “We must not get distracted from the important work that needs to be done in our school district. I will always choose to find common ground and move forward with the best intentions of Chilliwack students in mind. I am excited and passionate about science and education, and remain firm on my stance that science belongs in schools.
“I also believe that those who are creating and sharing these videos need to ask what kind of example they are setting for their children. We must rise above trying to create further division in our community, and find higher ground that will better serve our students.”
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.