Creative Destruction

August 7, 2006

TV: Doctor Who, So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Got Talent

Filed under: Content-lite,Popular Culture — Ampersand @ 4:44 pm

So first thing I did once I got back from NY is catch up on some of the TV I missed. Spoilers ahead!

So You Think You Can Dance

The judges on this show are obsessed with masculinity. All of the smaller male dancers are told that they have to be masculine, judges wonder aloud if they can be masculine, and whenever they dance a ballroom dance well they’re praised for being “masculine” or told “now you are a man!” In contrast, the bigger, deeper-chested men are always assumed to be masculine – even when their dancing has sometimes been relatively tentative and unsure, which would have caused any of the smaller male dancers to have their masculinity questioned.

It reminds me of something Esther Newton wrote in her book Margaret Mead Made Me Gay. According to Newton, in order to combat widespread stereotypes about dancers being gay, dance producers and choreographers, decades ago, began to favor stereotyped and exaggerated masculine and feminine roles in dance. When I watch So You Think You Can Dance judges natter on about masculinity, I’m watching the continuing effects of that historic homophobia. (You can also see it in the rule that female dancers wear very revealing costumes, while male dancers cover up. When one male dancer danced a couple of times in an open shirt, the judges made fun of him for it.)

Allison and Ivan on "So You Think You Can Dance"

Anyhow, it’s still one of my favorite shows on TV, because I love watching dances – especially the ones with so-called “contemporary” choreography, although all kinds can be fun. Regarding the last couple of weeks worth of shows, I think Allison Holker was robbed – she’s simply a better dancer than any of the remaining female dancers. I see that some other bloggers were also shocked to see Allison voted off – and so were the other female dancers on the show, judging from their expressions.

It’s hard to feel bad for Allison, though, because she’s that talented and that skilled and she’s only 18. To hell with her, frankly. (TVGuide interview with Allison and Ryan here. Apparently Utah has one hell of a dance culture.)

I’m also a big fan of Donyelle. She’s a great dancer (although not the best in this competition), she doesn’t do the same thing over and over with her solo dances, and rather than looking waiflike she looks strong and powerful. But I think Travis will probably be the winner of the overall competition – he’s a great dancer, and extremely likable.

America’s Got Talent

This is one of those shows that would be unwatchable without TIVO. But as it is I can scan through and just watch the performances, some of which are a lot of fun in a “stupid people tricks” sort of way, some of which are just good. Plus, I love magicians, acrobats, and jugglers.

That said, I can’t believe the judges went for that fire-juggler. He juggled three balls. Then he juggled three pins. Then he juggled three multi-headed pins. Yes, the balls and pins were on fire, but so what? It’s not dangerous to juggle fire. It’s not difficult to juggle fire. And the juggles he did were all incredibly easy. Basically, this guy is a crappy, hack juggler. These judges don’t know a thing about juggling, clearly.

Doctor Who

(Again, spoiler warning – if you haven’t yet seen David Tennant’s first season, which has not yet been broadcast in the USA, then stop reading).

Finished watching the first season of the tenth doctor, which was actually very satisfying. David Tennant isn’t as good as Christopher Eccleston was, but the scripts were stronger this season then they were in Eccleston’s season (despite a couple of cringeworthy missteps, like the big swordfight in the first Tennant storyline), and the conclusion of Rose’s storyline turned Eccleston’s season and Tennant’s first season into a single, reasonably satisfying story arc about Rose and the Doctor’s doomed romance. (Plus, the final episode’s plotline was so cheesy – “DALEKS VERSUS CYBERMEN!!!!” – that the fact that the episode was actually about the main characters’ relationship really rescued the episode.)

I thought Rose’s character was pretty good from a feminist point of view, especially in Tennant’s season. She isn’t as super-capable as the Doctor is (nor should she, or any companion, be) – but she was frequently an active participant in plots, and got to do more than just be the designated hostage again and again. (Of course, there were some episodes that got my feminist skin crawling a bit, but that’s to be expected – if I only watched stuff I fully approve of politically, I could throw out my TV set entirely).


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