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Friday, August 7, 2009

What Happened: So You Think You Can Dance

This post was inspired by an open thread at Shakesville. I agree with most of the things said in this post, but just want to expand on them a little further.

*If you are invested in
So You Think You Can Dance and haven't yet watched the finale and don't want to know who the winner is, I suggest you come back to this post after you have watched the finale.

I'm a sucker for dancing and reality competition shows, so it's amazing that I hadn't really watched
So You Think You Can Dance until this season. I have to admit that I love it. The finale was on last night and my favorite dancer, Jeanine, won.

While I do love this show and think that it is a great platform for dancers, there is one thing in particular that bothers me: the treatment of the female dancers, especially by judge Nigel Lithgoe. Nigel has a tendency to make pervy comments and the female dancers always seem to look uncomfortable after them. One comment that stands out to me was this past Wednesday night, the first part of the finale where the top 4 dancers perform. Jeanine and Kayla's dance partly involved them shedding layers as they went through the dance, ending in a simple leotard (I tried to find a video of this dance on YouTube, but was unsuccessful). It was a beautiful dance. But Nigel had to go and ruin it by saying "I wish it went on longer." This dance was the same length as all of the other dances. I interpreted this (and so did the other judges and dancers, it appears) that he wanted it to go on longer because he wanted them to take off more clothes. Female dance costumes are already sparse enough, we don't need a creepy old man making comment about taking
more clothes off.

Also during the first part of the finale, Nigel made a comment about Brandon and Kayla's broadway piece that was completely unnecessary and not relevant to the judging process. At the end of the dance, when Brandon was supposed to be having a heart attack, Kayla through her leg over him. Nigel then made the comment that if a beautiful blond had thrown her leg over him when he had his heart attack he would die from another heart attack. That had absolutely nothing to do with judging the dance, just Nigel being a creepy old man.

And is it really necessary to constantly ask the two married contestant, Melissa and Randi, if their husbands would approve? Their husbands seem to be pretty supportive of their dancing and therefore probably understand the nature of male/female pairs dancing. While it might not be pleasant for them to watch at some points, I'm sure they understand. And does it really matter what they think about it anyways? These women are doing what they love to do, so their husbands should be supportive and it shouldn't really matter in all cases. And would they be asking male contestants what their wives think? No, because men are "supposed" to play the field and these dances are just a demonstration of that.

So, enough about Nigel being a creepy old man. Let's go onto some of the things that I really liked about this season. Being dance and the fact that every couple (until the last episode) was a man and a woman, it is kind of expected (though not always appreciated) that the female will take the submissive role in the dance. Despite this fact, there was one dance that really stuck out to me about female empowerment. It was the dance of the final three women, Kayla, Jeanine, and Melissa, that portrayed them as superheroes (I cannot remember who the choreagrapher was at this point, it was the woman with the mohawk-like hair, if anyone remembers her name).

Some of my favorite dances throughout the season were the ones that had some form of social commentary or message. The first was the dance about addiction (choreographed by Mia Michaels) performed by Kayla and Kupono. It was a very powerful piece and was a really good representation of the love/hate relationship of drug abuse. One of my other favorite dances was about the fight through breast cancer (choreographed by Tyce Diorio), performed by Melissa and Ade. It was really moving, especially how it brought all of the judges to tears, even Ellen Degreneres, who was guest judging that night (I'm thinking of writing a Breast Implications
post on this dance, so I'm not going to comment on it too much right now).

It is great that this show is a platform not only to further the career of amazing dancers, but also for social commentary about drug use, cancer, and so much more. Despite some of the misogynst aspects of the show (that are prevalent through out all reality tv, well, tv in general), it is always entertaining to watch.

Do you like So You Think You Can Dance? What do you like about it? Do you think Nigel's pervy comments are related to his judging and therefore "acceptable"?


FeministPollyanna said...

So in agreement with this post. Nigel is the creepiest thing about the show--with all of his displays of sexist and homophobic attitudes, and the fact that he is the white male in the premiere position of power (he stands in as "head judge" because of his producing credit)seems to add institutional power to his desires and whims. These last couple days have just been reminders. :/

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