Saturday, July 21, 2007

So You Think You Can Dance - Week 5, Top 12 (3x14, 3x15)

Welcome to So You Think You...

Oh, err, Sara's still getting ready.

Better fill some time and space, so: Welcome to Dom's Giant Disembodied Melon!

In the meantime, the elimination format and its rationale need to be reevaluated. In the first season, the audience sent the dancers home, but with season two, the judges eliminated the dancers, ostensibly because as trained experts, they wanted greater control over the course of the show. While I tend to defer to people who have studied and performed a craft for any extended amount of time, you have to wonder about the mentality of expertise when they take matters into their own hands to save the clueless and frivolous masses from their own vulgar whims on the basis of a supposed crisis of quality (i.e. Jamile making the top 3 in the first season (Nb. Jamile was my favorite contestant that year)).

Of course, you can't fault the judges entirely, because they have to worry about the ever-present threat of the teenybopper voting bloc (always the bogeyman in audience-participant shows) or to ward off against genuine Sanjaya-level phenomena. (And no, Cedric was no Sanjaya.) But this time, you have to wonder what values they have in mind or what agenda they're following when they cut Hok over Neil.

I'm reminded of what Jared Diamond wrote in Guns, Germs, & Steel, about why a country as advanced as pre-Industrial China ended up making poisoned 21st-century dog-food and dumplings filled with processed cardboard. Diamond argues that the seat of the emperor wielded such completely power over the country that when a petty and xenophobic man assumed the throne, his whims could effectively close off the nation and single-handedly arrest its technological progress.

The judges are in an analogous if not parallel situation; they have the ultimate say in which dancer is eliminated and aren't really beholden to the masses. I sort of sympathize with the judges' situation, actually, since I always end up on the outside of one camp or another, but the decision to keep Neil over Jesús and now Hok, especially given the huge pop from the audience when Cat merely said his name, makes me reconsider the entire notion that a benevolent oligarchy can govern responsibly. Of course they have a right to their own criteria for choosing which dancers go on -- even if those criteria keep shifting -- but their rationales remain remote and opaque to a lot of viewers.

The judges are the oversight panel which ensures that the talent are sufficiently talented, but who oversees the overseers when they get a disagreeable idea in their heads without challenge? The only accountability comes from viewers tuning out, which won't happen at a large enough level that can affect the show.

Hok was up against impossible expectations: Mary wanted him to convey the advanced age of the character, while Nigel wanted him to break out more gravity-defying tricks. Add them together and you get two judges who already had their minds made up before Hok even did one plié.

And it's appropriate that in this Bizarro world, Hok was kept on after an unmemorable solo in week 4, but is eliminated in week 5 after a pretty hot number.

Download (14.18 mb)

Welcome to So You Think You Can...

Oh, still not ready.

The LOLCATDEELEY Moment of the Week

Clearly, she knew that she'd be well gutted by whatever result, and as you can hear below, she's barely holding herself together as she signs off.

Maybe we were all wrong about Lauren's "maybe it was racism, maybe it wasn't."

Because with her hair all bundled beneath her beanie, she looks kind of Vulcan, and we all know how easy it is to mistake Vulcans for Asians.

Welcome to So You...


Favorite dance of the week:

Download (28.63 mb)

I half-expected Shane Sparks to zip off that Mia Michaels–fat suit, because that contempo was like woah, and because the first third of the routine could've been some avant hip hop. And because Mia had never choreographed such a stylishly coherent piece that was more interested in accessible narrative than in arch navel-gazing.

As for the confusion sowed around what the dance was about, it's not like it's abstruse or even that novel. It's just about two unindividuated pre-mirror phase subjects negotiating through Lacan's Imaginary register. I can't believe Mary Murphy and Nigel were baffled.

To put that into terms that Mary nursing a hangover (see how I refrained from mentioning Botox there?) or a decrepit, probably senile Nigel can understand, it's two people not unlike newborn babes (the goggles obscuring the faces and their similar costumes pointing to amorphous and undifferentiated identity) are awed but also overwhelmed and alienated by modern (or post-modern, if you will) life, which they can only handle through the protective goggles.

Welcome to...


Ever wonder during the results show how darling Cat can rattle off the judges' comments, seemingly off the top of her head, here tightly chignoned (thanks Tyra!)? Well, wonder no more -- she has crib notes written on top of the results card!

That sly Cat!

Lacey looking (huh huh) put out:

I don't know why she's so surprised, especially since I'd already warned her to fix her bangs, otherwise something would happen like, oh, I don't know, Kameron jilting her to make time with a random audience hussy.

OK, so that was a weak way to extend a decent joke, but really, when "Dan Karaty? More like Don't Care At All!" is involved in choreography, nobody wins, and now I get to use this screencap of what "Kamcey" thought of his routine.

Actually, that's only Lacey's reaction, since Kameron's busy dancing, or just standing there, I can never tell which with him.

Nigel started using "unique" to describe Cedric, but this week he also tagged Hok with it, and the way he uses it, "unique" is at best a faint praise and more likely a backhanded insult (compare it to "interesting" as a non-answer to something you don't like). In either case, Nigel has been deploying "unique" as a euphemism now for dancers who fit the "street" stereotype, and as such, it bears a lot of ugly colonialist overtones. I'd start a petition to get Nigel to stop using it, but you know how the last one turned out.


Great, now we've got to wait for Pasha.

See y'all next week! (Update #1: Actually, I'm going to be out of town from Wednesday to Sunday, so it's more like see y'all in two weeks.)

Update #2: Thanks to the tasteful Blogging So You Think You Can Dance for the nice and totally unsolicited write-up. ^_^

Indie rating: Drive Like Jehu - "New Math"

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Viviana said...

You have no idea how much I love your recaps!! They're so funny!

tehresa said...

nicely done :)
p.s. i missed the intro to the lauren/neil and was like 'wait are they doing hip hop?' for a sec. nevertheless, that routine was superawesome.

Beckylooo said...

Wowzas! Hilarity ensues. Thanks for your unique perspective. And I mean unique in a totally front handed way.

Question though, did I have a brain tumor for breakfast? I don't remember season one voting being any different. Audience chooses bottom three, judges eliminate. Isn't that how Blake made it as far as he did? I also don't remember them switching partners each week after the top ten. Is this a new development? Someone, please, beer me knowledge.

Beckylooo said...

All right. I've now read all your So You Think You Can Dance Dance Revolution posts and a couple of your Friday Night Lights posts and while I know you not, I feel as though we share a brain between us.

That is all.

Leee said...

Dearest beckylooo, gird yourself for a beering: In the first season, the judges chose three couples as the worst of the week, and those six dancers went into an individual dance-off voted on by the viewers. Blake made it as far as he did because judges protected him until audiences could vote for all dancers. Jamile made it as far as he did despite hitting the bottom 2/3 three times -- audiences kept saving him.

As for our putative brainshare, the only thing that keeps you from being revealed as one of my sockpuppets is that you haven't announced your crush on Sara yet.

Beckylooo said...

Ah yes! It all comes rushing back to me... And I can't say which elimination method I prefer. They both have merit.

As far as Sara is concerned, sadly, this is where you and I part company. I do find her an adorable little button but not so much in the crush department. I am, however, quite vocal about my crush on Connie Britton.