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Friday, September 23, 2011
That Chaz Jazz
Lewis Black does a great job of poking the sharp stick of humor in the eye of religious right wing hypocrisy, particularly over sexual hypocrisy. Bono - CHAZ, not the other individuals in the entertainment industry with the same last name - did quite well in the first round of dancing competition. Better than just scoring well with the judges, he wowed the crowd, and has gained the support of his competitors dancing on the show. So, for all the stupid, intolerant and low-information bigots who got their sequined knickers in a twist over this-- here's Lewis Black to sort it out for you and provide some perspective on the conduct and character of past seasons casts.
I am a little surprised that this is considered all that suitable for children for other reasons having far more merit than the gender identity of Chaz Bono or the sexual orientation of other competitors past and present. We've had a few who's claim to fame has been primarily their sexual misadventures - like the recent prior season's Bristol Palin, who now speaks on premarital sex for a living, presumably only because she has a celebrity mom. It's not like she is particularly profound or gifted as a speaker, or that she has any unique insights that others don't also have. Bristol Palin went from a first night promise that she was going to only wear modest costumes, etc. to the final competition, where she went for the more sexually explicit, in both what she wore and in how she danced, in an effort to win.... so much for her good intentions.
But what kind of lesson is that for children, especially girls? Do we want to be promoting the position that it is acceptable to use sex, or to toss aside our morals easily? Is it desirable to promote the philosophy that girls and women have to compete with each other to be the most sexually provocative in order to succeed?
The programming is excellent in showcasing different styles of dancing, including sometimes providing an historical context for them. It encourages contestants to become comfortable in their bodies, and to become fit and graceful, and strong. They demonstrate excellent examples of how to deal with failures and misfortune and even injury with grace and character, as accidents and mistakes occur in the course of competition. I would hope in that regard that as the series season 13 progresses, that examples of this kind of character, like that exhibited by competitor J.R. Martinez, a badly scarred veteran of an IED explosion while serving in our military in Iraq that burned him over 40% of his body, might gain more equal attention from viewers with contestants with gender dysphoria, or for sexual orientation, like Carson Kressly (he is hilarious, btw).
The show could be just as entertaining if it had a little less of a leering sexual component, but it is within reasonable bounds for adults. It is less so for children as family viewing. THAT should be more of a focus for evaluating the programming as entertainment for kids, not ignorance about gender and sexual orientation.
The judges and the presenters make comments that are distinctly sexual in nature, and many of the dances are choreographed specifically for erotic content. If any of our readers have followed the international professional ball room dancing competitions, which have been carried on PBS stations in the past, this has been far less of a feature in those competitions - and not at all from the judging panels which focus much more on technical aspects exclusively. Which is good viewing for those who's appreciation for the art of Terpsichore is the reason for viewing.