Film and TV

Dancing Fools

Hey folks, I finally got my DVR running so you'll probably be seeing more evidence of screencaps on Towleroad in the future. Let's start with this.

Anybody else catch the craptastic premiere of So You Think You Can Dance?. The American Idol spin-off features dancers instead of singers and utilizes exec producer Nigel Lythgoe as a judge. Lythgoe tries his best bitchy Simon but doesn't come across with half the wit or personality. And whether host Lauren Sanchez writes her own bites or not, some of them are profoundly mean-spirited. Still, I found the show fairly entertaining overall. Here are a few moments:

Anthony Bryant from North Carolina and Lythgoe debated on the topic of masculinity after Lythgoe said Bryant's dancing wasn't manly enough. Note: It's hard to disagree with Lythgoe on this one but I gave Bryant props for taking on the mean old judge.

Syt1

Lythgoe: The bad news is, you are not coming with us to Hollywood. I worried about you when you brought that ribbon out and started dancing with it. I need boy dancers to be strong and masculine.
Bryant: I am strong.
Lythgoe: Sorry?
Bryant: I am strong.
Lythgoe: It did not come across with your partner. You did not look like a masculine dancer with your partner.
Bryant: Really? That's interesting, I've never gotten that before.
Lythgoe: Okay. Well, you've got it now.
Bryant: If you had asked me to dance more masculine, I could have done that. I still can do that.
Lythgoe: But why didn't you? You're a male. Why should I have to ask you to dance—?
Bryant: So you're saying doing this is not masculine?

Syt2

Lythgoe: What? Dressed with your shirt with your chest out like that?
Bryant: Look at Hollywood today, look at media. Everyone's dressing like this - you want me to button it, would that help?
Lythgoe: Do I think you're masculine when you dance? no I don't.
Bryant: Would you give me a chance to be more masculine?
Lythgoe: You were dancing with a partner young man. You were dancing with a partner. Was that partner male or female?
Bryant: She was female.
Lythgoe:Which one would you think I would want to be masculine then?
Bryant: Me, and I was.
Lythgoe: Well that's your opinion. Mine was not.
Bryant: You need to review those tapes a little more I think. Thank you.

My mouth opened in shock when I saw how a foursome of Ukranians was patronized and mocked by the judges, and then dissed by Lauren Sanchez, the host.

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Some English-challenged Ukranians tried to explain what they were going to perform and then did a strange acrobatic routine that bore no resemblance to any of the other dance auditions we had seen.

Syt4

Lythgoe: What was that all about?

Syt5

Sanchez: So the incredible strolling Ukranians do what they do best and just...walk around looking confused!. Are they aware they didn't make it? Who knows!?! [tee hee! Aren't idiotic foreigners funny?!?]

Finally, the (ouch) DVR moment of the night came when a backflipping dancer crashed into and shattered a glass table. He may have been terribly hurt (though he wasn't) but the camera man was more interested in laughing than helping.

Syt6

Syt7

So You Think You Can Dance? was more entertaining than I thought it would be. Given the alternative summer programming it definitely has a leg up on the competition (har har).

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Comments

  1. Lauren Sanchez is the VERY irritating "entertainment correspondent" on UPN 13's nightly news program here in L.A. She never looks like she knows what she's talking about, mangles peoples' names constantly, and--worse of all--makes one feel sorry for the stars she's yapping about. She recently married big-time agent Patrick Whitesell in an over-the-top, million-dollar wedding.

    Posted by: Joe | Jul 25, 2005 12:01:01 PM


  2. Yeah, I saw this and I was outraged...im mean sure everyone was thinking he was a fag, but how dare they tell him, a young guy that he wasnt manly enough!!! What the hell is he suppose to do about that. It should be purely about this talent, not whether or not his wrist is limp...while i appreciate their honest...i think they're off!

    Posted by: sam | Jul 25, 2005 12:49:17 PM


  3. I thought the show was painfully boring. I couldn't even sit through it. And how come the other judges never got to talk? I caught the part with the young dancer, and the British guy's comments were way out of line. I surprised myself by being outraged at his insistence on enforcing traditional gender stereotypes. (So what if he's queeny, he's a ballet dancer.) If the show really is about taking a dancer who is good at one style and asking him to learn other styles, then give the kid a break. Seemed like a lot of "thugs" with no personality got through. But, overall, I thought the show was boring. It's not making it to my DVR list.

    Posted by: Drake | Jul 25, 2005 12:59:24 PM


  4. Did you read Tom Shales' review in The Washington Post? (free registration required)
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/21/AR2005072100049.html

    I'll quote some of the article, starting a few paragraphs in:

    "The series premiered last night with a two-hour episode, and it quickly became clear that Nigel Lythgoe, the chief producer and a former choreographer, thinks he has latched onto at least one fascinating star: Nigel Lythgoe. One of three "Idol"-like judges rating the contestants, Lythgoe cast himself in the nasty Simon Cowell role, dishing out insults even to people he chose as winners. (The other two judges spoke little, were barely identified and disappeared altogether in the second half of the program.)

    ... "Dance" belongs not so much to the genre of reality TV as it does to that of humiliation television. Viewers are implicitly promised they will see people belittled and insulted, perhaps -- if the producers are lucky -- to the point of tears.

    Lythgoe reached his own personal worst with a prolonged tirade that sounded like poorly disguised homophobia. Imagine staging a dancing competition and having a few gay boys show up! That this might have surprised him is absurd enough, but Lythgoe took off after one young man in particular -- an obviously talented kid named Anthony -- for not looking "masculine" enough when he danced. Whatever that meant.

    "I need boy dancers to be strong, masculine!" Lythgoe bellowed. "You did not look like a masculine dancer with your partner." As part of the contest, the rules to which are a hopeless mass of confusion, the dancers must pair up for one number. Little if any of Anthony's team portion was shown to viewers, so who knew if Lythgoe had a leg to stand on, but the point is that his criticism morphed into a vendetta.

    Assuming any conflict to be good TV, the producers kept teasing viewers with little excerpts from this encounter throughout the show. Those who watched the full two hours (or rather, the empty two hours) heard the poor lad defending his masculinity four times. This goes beyond bad taste and simple sadism to outright insanity.

    The playing field for the competition was anything but level. Anthony, for instance, said he was studying dance at the Juilliard School in New York, which would seem to give him an unfair advantage over contestants who'd had no training. A few others indicated they had danced professionally. The competition also included folk dancers who were keeping various ethnic traditions alive; tossing them into a dance-off with Las Vegasy booty-shakers was pointless.

    Once the solos were out of the way and the dancers had expressed their individuality, they were sent off to be "choreographed" by a professional, with the ultimate goal to become part of a team of dancers and thereby have their individuality crushed. According to the opening announcements last night, the hundreds of dancers who auditioned will be winnowed down eventually to eight men and eight women and then someone will get to go to New York, "the dance capital of the world," and win a cash prize of $100,000.

    Anyone who survived the first night, however, was grandly invited by Lythgoe, in his best "American Idol" tones, to "come to Hollywood" for another go-round. Next week's show was taped in Los Angeles, which will make the invitation to "come to Hollywood" sound particularly ridiculous. To further muddle the pot, Lythgoe made occasional allusions to some other production he's putting together in which dancers will appear.

    "We're casting a show here where we want unique people to take back to Hollywood," Lythgoe lectured one contestant. Who knows what the devil he is talking about? What show?

    Ineptitude haunted "Dance" from the very beginning, when the host made it sound as though various rounds of competition had already been completed and that what we were watching was a documentary about "So You Think You Can Dance," not the show itself. Camerawork was so poor that dancers occasionally vanished out of the frame, and Lythgoe was featured in so many reaction shots that it was sometimes hard to remember who was onstage.

    There were also the predictable appearances by egomaniacs and the hopelessly self-deluded. Some of the most telegenic performers were eliminated after barely being glimpsed by the audience at home -- which so far has no voice in who stays and who goes. The show doesn't invite viewers in, as "American Idol" does, but instead shuts them out.

    Perhaps the young man who'd taken predictable umbrage at Lythgoe's barbs and at being rejected on network TV put it best. He left the building simply shouting the word "crap" over and over. Vulgar, maybe, but succinct -- and painfully accurate.

    Posted by: Bill | Jul 25, 2005 1:29:50 PM


  5. Well after reading that transcript I'm not even touching the show.

    Posted by: Damon | Jul 25, 2005 2:25:38 PM


  6. Lauren Sanchez?... LAUREN SANCHEZ!? That whole UPN "news cast" should be shut down.

    Posted by: Patrick | Jul 26, 2005 2:09:41 AM


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