Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cold Comfort

I somehow missed the big So You Think You Can Dance news from yesterday, but here it is (and thanks to Tapeworthy for the heads-up):

Read-headed weak link Jessica is out of the SYTYCD top ten due to injury. She'll be replaced by the most recently eliminated woman, Comfort.

And as surprising a bit of news as that is, it likely won't mean much in the final analysis. Jessica was clearly the weakest dancer in the Top 10, now Comfort is clearly the weakest dancer in the Top 10. In either case, it would take an outrageous case of audience dunderheadedness to keep either one around past this week. I just hope whoever Comfort has to dance with this week doesn't suffer the consequences.

A real shocker would have been if they'd have plugged in Thayne instead, given that each and every judge seemed to think he was better than either of the aforementioned girls. There's no real practical reason they couldn't sustain a (slight) imbalance between guys and girls -- this show has had male-male routines before. It wouldn't necessarily mean a boy-on-boy rumba (...unfortunately), because lord knows how much that'd freak out Uncle Nigel. The randomly-chosen all-guy pairing could just do hip-hop or contemporary or Broadway that week. What's so allfire homo about two guys and their jazz hands anyway?

Speaking of latent homophobia, check out this interview AfterElton did with Nigel Lythgoe. I've bagged on AE before for their hypersensitivity, but I'm glad they put the questions to Nigel about his anti-nancy-boy stance. I actually don't think Nigel is homophobic -- I'm more mystified by what is clearly a systemic gay panic in an industry so gay-dominated as FOR CHRISSAKES DANCE. I understand the illusion that partner dancing requires, I just think that "butch it up" attitude bleeds out into areas where it's not really necessary. How het do you have to be to flail about in a Mia Michaels routine anyway?


Jenn said...

Comfort is dancing with (SPOILER!) Twitch this week.

I wish shows like Idol and SYTYCD would at least let the singers and dancers mention that they're gay. I'm not expecting them to harp on it, but why do we have to pretend that everyone is straight? And why does Katy Perry get to sing about kissing another girl on SYTYCD when the guys can't even mention whether or not they're gay?

Mertseger said...

Yeah, by all rights Comfort should have have as much chance of continuing this week as Melanie LaPatin did when she stepped in for Jessi last season.

As a het, my mind boggles at the homophobia around stereotypically gay careers like dance and fashion design. If you like beautiful women, what better careers could you have? My wife's a fashion designer and once had a show in China, and the producers wanted me to walk the runway with her at the end to show how international the show was. All the models were casually topless backstage.

Of course, part of the problem is that stigmatizing of these careers begin at ages well before the idea of being around casually topless beautiful women models seems like a good idea to boys. To be a great dancer you need to start dancing well before puberty, and the societal enforcement of anti-gay bias begins almost exactly when young boys should begin their training if not well before.

On the one hand, I can see Nigel's somewhat dim idea that by encouraging the male dancers to be sort of macho role-models he can encourage young people to consider dancing as a legitimate heterosexual pursuit. On the other, in doing so he's directly denigrating gays.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that the show has some...issues with heteronormativity, but having one boy-boy pairing would really throw things off -- that would mean that who got kept would be based on raw vote totals, not votes + gender (because placing Thayne in the "girl" category isn't a real option!), which could lead to serious imbalances, like a 5-man, 1-woman top 6 (which seems conceivable, given how many of the "stars" this year are men). Which would make it really hard to do ballroom (I realize that there is gay ballroom dancing, but I can't imagine that America is "ready" for that, and I'm really really sure Fox isn't), which would suck for people who like ballroom. Given Nigel's unease with even the slightest hint of less than totally butch masculinity, I can't see his show being very open to any displays of tenderness between men, which would sadly really limit the kinds of dances they could do.

Joe Reid said...

Moot: I think that's probably correct -- the show really couldn't support more than a one-person (which is to say two-person) imbalance between guys and girls or else, yes, you'd end up without any ballroom. But just this once, I'd like see Thayne tossed in -- even as a "girl." He really danced circles around Comfort AND Jess.

jessica said...

Unfortunately, unlike in Idol where the forced male/female partitioning is extremely arbitrary and maddening, in SYTYCD that balance is vital to the structure of the show because of the partnering aspect. It doesn't excuse Nigel's hypersensitivity about the machismo or lack thereof -- like you, I don't think he's homophobic but rather is reacting as executive producer, of a FOX show, no less, to any potential offense to the gay-fearful American public -- but it (the male/female balance) can't really be avoided. And gay or not, if a guy's dancing a tango or a rumba or any other dance that's telling a love story, he'd better sell the emotion or he won't win the competition.

I'm sad to see someone like Thayne go when Comfort and Jessica are both so weak, but honestly the level of talent overall is so strong that I can't really complain.

Joe Reid said...

"like you, I don't think he's homophobic but rather is reacting as executive producer, of a FOX show, no less, to any potential offense to the gay-fearful American public"

Hmmm, I don't think that's my stance. As an EP, if he's keeping the gays under wraps because he's fearful of middle America, that does make him homophobic. Or at least culpably spineless. I was more talking about Nigel's opinion about masculine/feminine roles in partner dancing, which you articulated. That still kind of bugs me -- redefining masculinity in 2008 as something beyond domineering and hard is something I find way overdue -- but I don't think it's homophobic coming from Nigel, exactly. He just needs to watch it with the "effeminate" language.

jessica said...

Sorry, that was more, "like you, I don't think he's homophobic. Rather, I think he's reacting as an EP."

And you're right, fearing backlash is just as bad. I guess I was trying to separate Nigel personally, someone who strikes me as not anti-gay in the slightest, from Nigel the executive producer, who may or may not be under a certain amount of pressure from FOX not to let the men on the show be "too gay" or some such nonsense.

But I'm putting words in people's mouths. Bottom line is the emotion and story of the dance needs to be believable, which I think is ultimately his point but which I think he articulates very poorly.