What Do Sneakers on Telephone Wires Really Mean?

A video explores urban legends from around the world.

More

In Australia, dangling sneakers mean you’ve lost your virginity, in Spain, they are a territorial gentlemen’s agreement between the mafia and the police, and in the United States they can signify bullying, street art, or possibly a crack house. 

With very little definitively known about the origins of shoe flinging, or "shoefiti" as it's sometimes called, filmmaker Matthew Bate opened the “the mystery of flying kicks hotline." The filmmaker requested shoe flinging photos, videos, and stories that would help uncover the reasons behind this international phenomenon. The short documentary, The Mystery of Flying Kicks, combines the hotline’s global submissions with well-crafted animation, and video in an attempt to understand the heart of the matter: why exactly do we do it?

In the end, no one knows for sure, but perhaps anthropologist Marcel Danesi is on the right track: “Just the fact that you leave a writing on a wall, or a shoe somewhere, you have proven to yourself that you exist.” Or, maybe it’s just for fun. 

To see more work from Matthew Bate visit Closer Productions.


Jump to comments

Paul Rosenfeld writes and produces for Atlantic Video. His work has also appeared on The Daily Beast and CNN.com.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Video

Just In