cassidyrose: (all that jazz--butt)
In case you missed it, there is is a new competitive reality show that is a combination dance and weight-loss contest called Dance Your Ass Off, airing on fat-hating Oprah's own network, Oxygen. The contestants are fat people who all have sob stories about how being fat is ruining their lives and how it is all their fault because they are fat. Most do not have any sort of dance background. They are boarded in some sort of standard-fare reality show house which includes cabinets full of donuts, cookies, chips, crackers, etc., alongside fresh food, because you know, it wouldn't be good TV unless the fat people were "tempted" by "junk food." The contestants are put on crazy diet/workout plans and taught a partner dance every week with an ostensible "dance professional" most of whom don't dance or choreograph all that much better than I do, which isn't a slight against me but at the show's choice of pros...a true "professional" should be doing those things way better than me. Each week the contestants dance their dance with their partner and are scored on their dance. Then they are weighed on a scale the size of which puts most freight scales to shame. Their total score and ranking for each week is based on their dance score and the percentage of their body weight lost. To top it off, most all the female contestants (and some male) are often costumed in fairly ill-fitting, crappy spandex costumes which show a lot of flesh and border on fetishistic. The Fly Girls have some costumes that are essentially lingerie or underwear and they fit better and look less over-the-top than these and that is saying a lot. I do not have a problem with the flesh showing (see my icon), but read below if you want to know why I think there are huge issues with the costume choices for this show.

So, there is your background. Since the show debuted a few weeks ago there has been a fair bit of fat-o-sphere chatter about whether or not the show is exploitative and how bad it really is. Some have argued that show promotes "loving yourself as you are" and that the host is promoting the same thing. I disagree and here is a somewhat modified comment I posted elsewhere in response to those claims:
    The host, Marissa Jaret Winokur, who in a former life played fat and fat-positive dancer Tracy Turnblad in the Broadway production of "Hairspray" (and won a Tony for her performance to boot), is publicly dieting for weight loss and is endorsing such by hosting the show so I hardly think she is all about fat people feeling confident and sexy as they are. If the show was about people being confident and sexy as fat people there would be no weight-loss element to the show AND contestants would not have scores based on their weight-loss...they would be scored based on their dancing alone.

    As a fat dancer with a fat dance company the show disgusts me. It is about making people thinner and smaller for entertainment and not training them as dancers. There are no fat professionals dancing with the contestants and the dancing and choreography is mediocre at best. Basing a show around weight loss is quite problematic (and by that I do indeed mean "it is complete and utter bullshit") and adding dance and sexy costumes to the mix does not make it any less so. Additionally, I do think that the costumes are meant to highlight the fat, and not in a good way. While we (fat-positive folks) may look at a fat bare-midriff and think "Wow, sexy" I would argue that many, many people look at it and think "Ew, gross. At least I am not that fat" and the producers of the show know that and want that. I would bet money the producers are putting the contestants in tight, skimpy clothing not because they think it will be liberating for the contestant or the viewer, but because they know it has shock value and they know people will be drawn in by the display of fat and the opportunity to ridicule. I also find the costumes pretty ugly and our dancers have much better, much sexier, much better fitting costumes and we have probably .01% of the budget the show does.

    At the heart of it, I do not believe that a show can be about people being comfortable with who they/what they look like while actively engaging in making changes to those things and rewarding those changes.

In thinking about the costumes more, I do think what bothers me a lot is that it seems they are being costumed as "before" pictures. They are all supposed to be losing weight so weeks from now they are supposed to look smaller and less fat. The super-tight shiny spandex used in many of the costumes highlights the contestants' size and shows all rolls and dimples. Now, I do not feel that there is inherently anything wrong with this and can certainly see doing this in the interest of fat-activism or if you just really like shiny, tight spandex. What I do have a problem with is that people on a weight-loss show are being dressed in ways to show their fat when the show is not about fat acceptance and they are earnestly trying to rid themselves of said fat. It is exploiting the fat and the fat person for entertainment value. I think the producers' intent is to shock the audience with the contestants' fat (why else would they have them weigh-in on camera in their underwear?). I am not arguing that fat dancers on any show should be costumed in caftans, but I do think nicer costumes could have been made, ones made of something other than spandex and ones that seemed to actually fit the contestants. I will freely admit that I am not a a fan of shiny spandex for costumes for any size dancer because I think it often looks cheap, so some of this is a style issue for me. But I have to ask, if the Fly Girls, on a child's-size-shoestring budget can create sexy, nicely-fitting, flesh-revealing costumes that look great and not like something we bought at the Halloween Superstore, then why can't a television show do the same?

But, really, the costumes are the least of what's wrong with this show. Really.
cassidyrose: (all that jazz--butt)
Yes, I am writing about that dance/"reality"/competition show, "So You Think You Can Dance." If you have no idea what I am talking about you might consider yourself lucky ;-)

OK, so we are Top Ten, which really the producers should just rename "Top Ten People We Want on Our $$$$$-Making Tour." It is clear they have kept some people who perhaps should have gone home for their audience draw on the tour. Anyhow, before I get any further, let me say this: these are all good dancers, some better than others. The twenty who started were mostly good dancers. Many, many stellar dancers who auditioned didn't make it. That said, some of these dancers are not all that much better (if that) than people I dance in studios with every week or take classes frp, every week--it is really luck of the draw that they are on TV, or more likely, they fill a profile the producers want to fill. I will readily agree that I cannot dance as well as any of the ten onstage tonight...but that doesn't mean I cannot critique what is going on. So onward...

1.) The judges. Again, STFU with your self-congratulatory crap. You are not that special. Yes, this show is popular, but it is by no means the bastion of great 21st century dance you seem to think it is.

2.) Hey, Nigel, your comments about the historical strife in Africa and "the people" coming together to make powerful dance as a result came across as patronizing bullshit from a wealthy, muppet-choregraphing white dude. Add to that your awkward comments about interracial dance partners and you are gunning for a first class ticket on Race Fail 2009: The Summer Tour.

3.) Choreographers: Really, can we be done with the male-female love story. I am so fucking sick of it I could scream. You are supposed to be this all you can think of? It is BORING!!!! Similarly, all dance doesn't have to have a neatly confined narrative. Whatever happened to thematic dances? Or what about a narrative that isn't instantly transparent to the audience?

4.) Choreographers: Lose the distracting, literal props. Travis, that necklace you used made that dance infinitely more cheesy and trite than it needed to be. It wasn't as bad as that chain 'ol Nappy Tabs used a couple of weeks ago, but it was still bad. Don't be afraid to make your audience think.

5.) Nigel (again), quit commenting on how pretty the "girls" are. We get it. You like traditionally beautiful women 1/3 your age with next to no body fat on them (breasts excepted). Comment on the female contestants' dancing ability and leave it at that. Likewise, making fat-phobic "jokes" about one of the male dancers' was really distasteful and full of fail.

6.) The Viennese Waltz with Evan and Kayla was actually quite nice. Usually not a fan of the dance, but I liked it.

7.) Didn't care for the hip hop with Janette and Ade mostly because I tend to loathe Nappy Tabs' pair choreography. Janette seemed too perky/bouncy as well. Shane Sparks and Dave Scott need to choreograph for the show a whole lot more than they are.

8.) Jeanine and Jason's contemporary was well-danced, and Jason certainly showed tremendous power, but I wasn't a huge fan of the literal male-female love story choreo, complete with a necklace. I did like that both of them did some strong floor work in unison requiring a lot of upper-body strength. The kiss at the end was, again, too literal for me.

9.) Randi and Kupono's Paso Doble was a hot mess. Just not good. And he dropped her at the end. Not good. His leaps continue to be underwhelming.

10.) Melissa and Brandon's "Broadway" (which on the show seems to mean any dance performed to a canonical song from a Broadway show) was much better than most the crap Tyce trots out. They were both strong, though way too clean-looking to be performing anything from "Hair". Also? Tyce maybe should have thought twice before using a song so strongly associated with "40-Year-Old Virgin". It kind of increased the cheese factor.

11.) The solos: I like Jason's a lot. Good modern sensibility and nice choice of music. Brandon's was strong and had good stillness mixed with his power. Ade's was so-so--I saw where he was going with the music but he didn't hit it and it looked off. Evan's was good and cute, even if it is not a style I am drawn too. I do wish he was ease off the comedy once in a while and dare to be taken seriously as a performer sans goofiness. Kupono's was the best I've seen him do, but was just OK. He is not as strong as the others. Melissa's was so-so--she is a nice ballet dancer, but not stunning and her movement tends to be pretty generic. Kayla's was her usual level of meh-tude--she can dance, for sure, but those solos are just not much of anything. Jeanine's was quite nice but her costumes bug. I keep fearing she is going to lose the two scraps of fabric she has pasted onto herself. Randi's was pretty good, but I saw her fall out of turn which is not great. Jeanette's was sassy and strong, but odd in the same way that all solos done my ballroom/social dancers are.
cassidyrose: (all that jazz--butt)
I watched Britney Spears' performance on the VMA's last night out of perverse curiosity. Her performance was even worse than I could have imagined. I have seen more stage presence and better dancing on five year olds in beginning ballet, not to mention the horrific lip synching (did anyone actually sing at the show?). However, what I marvel at the most, is not how she managed to turn out such a wonderfully craptastic performance (did she even rehearse?), but rather is the commentary I have seenthat refers to her as, well, fat. Let me tell you. Spears may have delivered one of the worst public performances shy of Roseanne's now infamous "Star Spangled Banner" venture many years back, but fat Britney ain't. Here's what the AP had to say about her performance (emphasis mine): As in most train wrecks, it was hard to focus on just one thing as the Britney Spears disaster unfolded on MTV's Video Music Awards. There was just so much that went wrong.

Out-of-synch lip-synching. Lethargic movements that seemed choreographed by a dance instructor for a nursing home. The paunch in place of Spears' once-taut belly.
. The headline SF Gate used for the piece reads "What A Waist".

A paunch.

Belly flab. Really?

Here's the photo accompanying the story:

That's a "paunch"? That's belly flab? Granted, she clearly has plenty of body make-up on to conceal any perceived imperfections, and she may not be as small as she was when she was sixteen and before she had two kids. But, my friends, her belly is far from a "paunch" and far from "flabby." And so what if she really did have a "paunch" or "belly flab"? What the fuck does that have to do with her performance, good, bad or indifferent? Why must assessment of female stars' bodies and general appearance always accompany critiques of their work (or lack thereof). Why is her supposed fat belly the damned headline ("What a Waist") and not her awful dancing and barely-there lip synching? What the fuck is wrong with this society that the size of Britney's belly is do damned relevant?

And we wonder why nine year olds go on diets.


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