Wednesday, September 02, 2009

America's Best Dance Crew - 4x04 "Bollywood Challenge" - More Thoughts

One thing about ABDC that's always made me uncomfortable was how the show isn't shy about throwing some squad under the bus on air. In the very first episode, we saw the supposed leader of Enigma Dance Kru beefing with the rest of his team and acting like an insufferable know-it-all. Seeing unmitigated bad behavior predisposes people to disliking him, and the judges certainly weren't immune, giving him a stern talking to before ultimately booting Enigma. The leader's behavior almost definitely wasn't the sole factor in their elimination, but I'm sure he made the decision easier for the judges.

In "Bollywood Challenge," we saw such uncomfortable candor again when backstage footage showed Leiomy acting out and contemplating quitting. And again, the judges didn't like it, but Vogue Evolution weren't on the chopping block. But again, I never like to see behind-the-scenes transgressions aired onstage and then addressed directly by the figures of authority, where the perpetrators don't have the same platform to defend themselves. The setup, in other words, is unfair and explicitly imposes a moral framework that I'd just as soon ignore.

(As a contrast, the only time that SYTYCD has ever gone out of its way to undermine the moral standing of a contestant was when we saw Joy being chastised by Dmitry for her listless work ethic. Ever since, the most controversial act we've seen in these tightly controlled interviews is probably Gev wearing an Abu Ghraib t-shirt -- everything else is rehearsed into benign harmlessness.)

Similarly, seeing the post-elimination reactions of the just-booted crew (like Artistry In Motion's impetuous disbelief) can also be jarring. I don't want my mental image of chivalric competition to be punctured by dancers who are incredulous or angry that they've been eliminated! Maybe I overvalue the fiction of reality tv's surface smoothness.

Indie rating: The Knife – "From Off to On"


NikiN said...

Thanks for this rumination. I agree that I hate to see the crews being bad sports. The "download this" shirts seemed to be taking Beet Ya Feet's injured pride a bit too far for my comfort.

I'm especially glad of your post, because I'm glad to see I'm not alone in my discomfort over the situation with Leiomy. I especially hated the part where Lil Mama scolded her. I found myself grateful for JC's response: he noted that this sort of stuff happens in a group (forgive my terrible paraphrasing), and it didn't really bother him. My fiance and I joked about how he was probably thinking "Pshaw, that was nothing! You should have seen that one time when Justin and I..."

It's true that Vogue Evolution was not on the chopping block this past week, but it seems to me like the snit fit could easily have influenced folks who were voting that same night. I'll be surprised is VE isn't on the block this coming week.

momo said...

I've been following that particular incident because the show has been using the blog and the edit to paint Leiomy as a prima donna, but quite a few fans pointed out that the edit left out the cause of the supposed snit: the death of a very dear person and the producers refusal to let Leiomy attend the funeral. In the comments as well, quite a few people said that Lil Mama should have kept her critique to the dancing and that her remards about being a transwoman were uninformed and out of place. You should see the clip on the blog of Vogue E recreating the incident in their inimitable way: priceless! They do a whole riff on the masculine/feminine behavior thing, and then have fun with Leiomy's "death stare". I'd love to hang out with them. I can't wait until they get a chance to show that some of the dancers can do more than vogue, because apparently they can.