Shutterstock

A video explores urban legends from around the world.

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.

Top image: Laura Bartlett/Shutterstock.com

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic.

About the Author

Paul Rosenfeld
Paul Rosenfeld

Paul Rosenfeld is a former associate producer for video at The Atlantic.

Most Popular

  1. Postcards showing the Woodner when it used to be a luxury apartment-hotel in the '50s and '60s, from the collection of John DeFerrari
    Equity

    The Neighborhood Inside a Building

    D.C.’s massive Woodner apartment building has lived many lives—from fancy hotel to one of the last bastions of affordable housing in a gentrifying neighborhood. Now, it’s on the brink of another change.

  2. Design

    The Military Declares War on Sprawl

    The Pentagon thinks better designed, more walkable bases can help curb obesity and improve troops’ fitness.

  3. Members of a tenants' organization in East Harlem gather outside the office of landlord developer Dawnay, Day Group, as lawyers attempt to serve the company with court papers on behalf of tenants, during a press conference in New York. The tenant's group, Movement for Justice in El Barrio, filed suit against Dawnay, Day Group, the London-based investment corporation "for harassing tenants by falsely and illegally charging fees in attempts to push immigrant families from their homes and gentrify the neighborhood," said Chaumtoli Huq, an attorney for the tenants.
    Equity

    Toward Being a Better Gentrifier

    There’s a right way and a wrong way to be a neighbor during a time of rapid community change.

  4. Equity

    The Hoarding of the American Dream

    A new book examines how the upper-middle class has enriched itself and harmed economic mobility.

  5. Equity

    The Poverty Just Over the Hills From Silicon Valley

    The South Coast, a 30-mile drive from Palo Alto, is facing an affordable-housing shortage that is jeopardizing its agricultural heritage.