Monday, July 14, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance - Top 12 (4x14, 4x15)

Welcome to This Will Be My Worst Post Ever!

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First, I hope that I didn't raise anyone's expectations with my "better late than rushed" post Sunday night, because I'm pretty sure I lost some mojo this week solely because it's been two whole weeks and we've seen nary the outlines of the Awkward Dance. But while we've gained the Message, the Awkward Dance has left a gaping wound in the show as evidenced by this week's underwhelming performances and the persistent blogospheric complaints about the season-long lack of a well-defined underdog, which my previous post failed to assuage (shock!). As long as they can't let go of narrative shortcomings on SYTYCD, I can't let go of their missing-the-forest-for-the-trees myopia, so bear with me while I tease out the narrative issue from a different angle this time.

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Everyone intuitively knows that everyone's opinions are valid, but nonetheless, they defer to the glitzy production and officialness of the broadcast product as infinitely more authoritative. In this case, viewers feel that by failing to identify an underdog, the producers have rendered it a missing narrative, no light matter in a medium that transmits itself through narratives. The missing narrative might as well not exist, and even if they hold a notion of it in their heads, it's less real because Nigel doesn't validate that notion. However, to reach towards postmodernism or whatever quasi-relativistic voodoo you ascribe to, narratives aren't any more or less real than any other narratives (within reason). Instead, viewers unconsciously put themselves into the same situation as the dancers; that is, they look towards the authority figures on the show to validate them or the stories/dancing when that's the last thing that we as postmodern intelligences need.

(Remember, all narratives keep us interested in what they say by carving out a brand new space in our minds, mark that space as "need," then promise to resolve/fill that need -- just like commercial narratives that tell us about products we thought we couldn't live without if only we knew about them.)

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When viewers defer to the authority of the show, they reveal how they buy into traditional narrative relations wherein the author (in our case, Nigel/judges and the editors) validates what viewers think, literally with a few words. Even if viewers challenge the central narrative by confronting the author and its narrative directly, they play into the power politics of narrative because they admit that the author sits atop the narrative hierarchy. But to invert and bastardize the familiar koan, if a tree in the forest falls on Gev (for the sake of argument) and Nigel only bothers to note the breaker's technical weaknesses, Gev is still an underdog. Just because the judges haven't identified him (or anyone for that matter) as the Little Dancer That Could doesn't mean that the underdog doesn't exist, it merely means that the show hasn't said that so-and-so has danced through long odds to reach the top 10. If we mentally erase the narrative that the judges try to enforce (clearly, a feat easier said that done), then that leaves us room to find or develop narratives ourselves.

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I obsess over complaints about narrative because of how and where people are voicing them: on the Internet, in forums, while framing them within elaborate conspiracies about how Nigel wants to ensure this or that. In other words, while they unwittingly reinforce the position of the central narrative, they offer new stories in place of the missing narratives to replace the official narrative over Web 2.0 (cheers, momo). Viewers don't need the centralized authority of the show to validate them or their tastes -- that's how culture is disseminated traditionally -- but thanks to blogs, message boards, the mighty Youtube, we have more sources of information (like this article on Joshua (via BSYTYCD) which rectifies certain incomplete, faulty official narratives) and most importantly,
multifarious outlets that allow us to give voice to competing, contradictory, oxymoronic, idiosyncratic stories. We're already halfway there, and if we only realized that, then we'd be even closer to a new way of thinking.


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And the moral of this story is that no matter how hot you are, screwing up your face in front of a fisheye lens is good for nobody.

Read more if you dare...




Before I entirely disappearing into my own navel, here's a reward for getting through to this point:

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(Straight boys don't watch this show, right?)



I fear losing you all, so let me bump up

LOLCATDEELEY of THIS WEEK

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Joshua and Katee are superheroes. They lifted the otherwise unmemorable week to respectable heights, their Bollywood routine was that awesome.

Download Joshua & Katee's Bollywood (57.7 MB)



Wait, there's something else that made the week worthwhile:

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I can't believe I didn't get the Message while I was watching the broadcast, because the Message is powerful Gev gave it to Cat, and without even touching her, her reaction shows that she felt it.






Week 4 saw the double milestone of shirtlessness (Twitch and Will), which led me to wonder which of the guys would next go sans shirt. Fast-forward seven days and the guy turned out to be Will pulling double-duty -- topless and nearly bottomless. The next closest thing to male shirtlessness was Gev shaving off the hair-shirt growing on his chest:



I knew I said I didn't want to make any Borat jokes about him, but Gev + his chest hair = comedy gold.



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Shortney is gold, too, but that's because she used way too much tanner. I would recommend that she not go so crazy with it because she actually looks more overcooked than Mary:

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What's more, when she just stood beside Gev, she nearly washed him out completely. Please, think of Gev, Shortney.

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Will and Jessica's contemporary was bold if only for Tasty Oreo's choice of beatless music, but it fell far short of the Greatest Ever praise it got from the three entities whose existences I now refuse to recognize. The routine is a lot better if you just focus on Will. All the same, it did lead to him having to solo, which was an exquisite sight.

Download Will's solo



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Apologies to all the Mark and Chelsie fans out there -- and I know that you are legion -- but this marks the second consecutive week where they failed to make any impression on me, and I seem not to be the only one who can't keep the two of them straight:

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The only enduring images I had of them came from the Broadway routine: first, of Chelsie batting Mark's head back and forth, and then, of Chelsie's dress getting stuck in Mark's suspenders (see above), the latter of which is clearly meant to evoke copulating houseflies. Or maybe I've been watching Green Porno too much (the link is harmless -- if you work at an entomlogical research facility. No, seriously, unless "anus" and "penis" are off limits, the link is perfectly work-safe and full of awesome).

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But hey, here's an animated gif ready to be made into your AIM Buddy Icon.

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Glowsticks!

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In the shape of a star! It's like the '90s never ended! Good job, NappyTabs.



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Not only did she dance to "Oh Timbaland," but by balancing along the edge of the stage, Comfort reached into her hip-hop lexicon and straight up sampled the Danny/Anya hip-hop routine from last year. So even if she hasn't met expectations in practice, she represents a lot of the things the appeal to me on a theoretical level, which is more than I could say about a few of the other dancers.



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Mia can be entirely inappropriate and obscure, but sometimes when she aims her lack of tact at Mary, I almost like her when she's on the panel.



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Almost everything has been said about Cat's hair on results night, except probably this: her hair would actually be too big to be an undercover FBI infiltrating the mafia.

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The Ailey troupe!



Download Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater - Revelations

What form! I bet he's a 300 bowler.

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I listened to her song, and I didn't like it.

Indie rating: Boris - "Message"

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Speaking of coming up with narratives on forums, there is this one guy on TWOP who comes up with the most elaborate story that makes Josh the inevitable winner. He (or she?) twists every single thing to fit into his own narrative and complains about how this season is crap, yet has so much to say about it all the time. I swear, every post of his is something negative about the season or twisting situations around to fit his own perspective, or narrative, and it's getting to the point where he says he hates this season so much, yet won't shut up about it. If you really hate it then STFU and stop watching you Debbie Downer. God, for someone who says this season sucks so much he sure doesn't show it by how much time he devotes to talking about it.

Please excuse me for the rant, but I rrrreeaaallly needed to get that off my chest.

Anyways, LOVE your recaps! Oh, I agree. Joshua and Katee are superheroes.

momo said...

Wheeee!Thanks for the before and after Gev + chest hair shots, the gorgeous picture of Cat, and the excellent recap!

Somewhere, someone is making a montage of all the Mark faces and setting it to that Divinyls song...

Well, if people were griping about lack of narrative arc a few days ago, now that Jessica has had to drop out, we are in full frenzy of So You Think You Can Diagnose like House over the Internets?

pyewacketsid said...

Narrative schmarrative. Not that I don't agree with what you wrote, I just find that tuning out the meta-crap greatly facilitates my enjoyment of this show.

My favorite narration is that which is provided by the dancers themselves, be it through snippets in training clips or facial expressions during judging. I lap that stuff up. It allows my husband and I to cobble together an insular, technically-ignorant-but-at-least-on-the-same-wavelength narrative that carries us happily through the season. "OMG, they are precious!" "Whoa, that was amazing/hot/fun. Wish I could do that." "Do you think Pasha and Anya would swing with us?"

Our viewing experience is enhanced by jidge/forum comments that are either: a)constructive/educational or b)in agreement with what we already decided. Anything else (and there's oh, SO much else!) gets a firm "whut-EVAH."

Appropos of nothing, I was tolerantly amused by Mary during Seasons 2-3. This year I find her grating and seriously wonder if she's on drugs. No really.

Leee said...

Anon, I haven't checked Joshua's thread on that forum in a long time, but I have my own whinin' bogeyman on there whose bitterness (not to mention the bitterness of a vocal segment of posters there) has poisoned the atmosphere on that forum to the point that I hate myself for giving into the temptation of posting there.


Somewhere, someone is making a montage of all the Mark faces and setting it to that Divinyls song...

Color me appalled and amused.


pyewacketsid, "tuning out the meta-crap" is probably the best way to sum up my feelings about these matters and is a more accurate (and concise!) way to describe how I actually enjoy the show. "Whatever" is the magic word. (I kind of worry that I'm bordering on "preaching to the chorus" mental shut-in status, but then again, I'm not forming foreign policy, so I'm good to go.) Pre-performance interview segments and screwy faces (guess where I get my image macros?) are, as the kids would say, for the win.

dinorawr said...

Aw, I love your posts at TWoP, Lee. The grassy knoll is freaking huge all over there at the moment. But if we don't have posts like yours to balance out the poison then it's a lost cause! Don't let them stop you. :(

thisisanonagain said...

Leee posts at TWOP? Then you must visit the grassy knoll and wipe out the poison like dinorawr says. That's where that poster who I mentioned before lives and spews his (or her?) "Joshua as TCO" narrative like it's the Biblical truth.

I'd love to do what pyewacketsid does and give him a big whatever! but it's impossible when he posts everywhere and you can't enjoy a single good dance on the show because he ruins it by sticking his narrative into it. According to him, all the dancers are Nigel's minions and Joshua is TCO.

Please Leee, you got to give this poster a verbal smack in the face so he can shut the hell up.

thisisanonagain said...

Leee, just in case you do visit the grassy knoll or any of the episode threads, or pretty much any other thread you'll be able to find said poster, it's the guy who claims Josh is TCO, Josh and Katee's dances have been given to them as gifts, and Will is set up as backlash for Josh to win.

Leee said...

I (used to) post there, but I'll let you figure out my username because that way it's more fun, yeah? Get ur Veronica Mars on!

I think I know whom you're talking about now, but posters like him are only part of the problem I have with the site (against which I've been nursing a long, old grudge), the other being busybody mods who don't watch enough Top Model to know whether I'm joking or being rude. So even if I had the skillz to lay down smack on anyone, I'd get "warned" "again" because of their "no boards-on-boards" rule. (In both of these senses (e.g. conspiracy freaks and overweening mods), IDF is actually a much more friendlier forum -- don't laugh, I'm serious -- at least from what I've seen. Sure, it's a bunch of "teen-agers" continuously bumping the threads of their chosen favorites with spelling mistakes and smileys, but their enthusiasm for the show remains front and center and mostly undiluted by their disappointments. And some of them are even older than 15! Not that it doesn't have its own cranks.)

I'm having no part of the Grassy Knoll -- it was already too conspiratorial and tin-hattist for me the last time I was there, and that was last season. Besides, the mods frown on any policing on the part of posters.

But yeah, I dunno, maybe.

Anonymous said...

Anon, rant on! The person on TWOP...starts with O and ends with n right? I just skip his/her posts...same thing over and over again in every thread.

leee, I think I know who you are on TWOP. Why the one-liners there? :)

dinorawr said...

You wouldn't have to police, you could just link to your lolcats to bring some sunshine back into the place! /Devil's Advocate

I understand what you're saying about IDF, I personally can't get past the whole five word posts about themselves conversations without discussing dancers in the dancers threads, but their joy for dance is obvious! Not that I don't think TWoP is without joy and love for dance... Perhaps it is more of the Doriana Dance Is Serious Business variety...

alvin etler said...

Yes, Lee. I for one miss your excellent postings on TWoP. I think I have finally learned to just tune out the more negative posters and just discuss my love of the show. Now if I can just get to where I'm not so riled up when I go in Mia's thread. yes she's crass, but people are making it personal in there. I can't help it I love her.

pyewacketsid said...

*snerk* Yeah, there is no laying of smack to be done in TWOP, as I found out the first time I ever posted there. My genuinely puzzled, "what's with all the Jamie hate?" got me a Mod slap.

Not my kind of place. I just stick to the recaps now. If I'm gonna be surrounded by assholes, I must be permitted to carry toilet paper.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to make your blog into a place of rant so last comment about this, I swear.

Anonymous, yes. That is the culprit, starts with O and ends with n. Now he's talking about how they perfectly orchestrated the elimination of Gev. Idiot, please! Just STFU and stay off the forum.

Myabe I'll take up Leee's suggestion about IDF. I'll at least take a look.

My apologies again for the rant and this will be the last of that subject.

Leee said...

Don't worry Anon, because as long as we have reasons to rant, I'm not going to censure or let's say WARN ANYONE.

From the "What Am I Wearing" thread:

Random poster: If you hurry, I do believe you can buy something very similar to Chelsie's solo dress, fringes and all, at Express (I saw one in pink).

Me: Unless you're the Stanford mascot, why would anyone want to?

Moderator: You know, it's fine to state you don't like the dress, but the above is pretty rude to the original poster. I'm deleting the post. Please review the FAQ and the Do & Don't list before you post again.

All told, this is probably the fourth or fifth time I've run afoul of their policies, and probably my last. I'll admit my post was rude, but when other posters have been allowed to freely broadcast their bitterness without regard to others, I'd rather cut my losses, because I am a good-looking rebel who plays by his own rules, see.

Also, I may have overpraised IDF's charms, as I randomly fell into a thread there that was brimming with bittercakes, so it's not the land of honey I originally painted it out to be. And full disclosure: they have an image macros thread where a number of my creations have won several animated smileys.