Sunday, March 24, 2013

DTWS, Survivior, and Sundry Miscellany

So I watched my first episode of Dancing With the Stars (FIERCE FIVE 4EVER 5EVER), and I was reminded why I never watched it in the first place: most of the celebrities are bad. Not an insight, of course, but for all the griping that SYTYCD earns for whatever insincere hijinks it pulls, most of the time the performers look like they belong on a dance floor. Both of these shows tend towards the aspirational corner of the reality tv ecosystem, so seeing DL Hughley plopping around in a cha-cha and then seeing his unconcealed, crestfallen hurt at receiving 12 points for it was the nadir of discomfort, but he wasn't alone. Victor Ortiz and Bachelor guy were notably stiff, and grrr, Jacoby Jones grrr Baltimore Ravens boo hiss, but he at leas he looks at home on camera (even without pads and a helmet). Winona Judd treaded so carefully that I hesitate to call what she did dancing, but at least she brings in Naomi and Ashley (/swoon) as her high-watt rooting section. (Ashley's embarrassment at the phone number mugging was adorable.) Andy Dick wasn't bad, for all the "not smooth enough!" notes from the judges. Aly, check, that, Alexandra Reisman was sadly forgettable. The two highlights then are Kellie Pickler (who is at least light on her feet, but man do I not care a whit about cha-chas), and Zendaya (pronounced zen-DAY-ah!), who despite being all arms and legs, pulled off a genuinely charming contemporary that stands on its own merits. (And wtf, with SYTYCD's apparent brand differentiation of All Contemporary, All the Time, is this DWTS trying to squeeze out its competition/source of new pros?) (And I was modestly curious to see what Lindsay was like outside of a reality competition context, and I still am.)

I thought I was done watching Survivor two seasons ago (I skipped One World, which apparently was a mistake), but then I'd heard that Hot Brenda (aka The Hot One) was back as a Favorite in the second iteration of Fans vs. Favorites, so with a million holes in my weekly schedule, I figured, why not. Well, oops, she's spoken probably 10 words on camera so far, plus the contestants are reinforcing my desire for the extinction of the human race. And I don't mean only the contestants, but most people who watch the show as well.

To wit: Shamar, tempestuous, abrasive Iraq War veteran, recovering alcoholic, and camp layabout. He was such a drain on his team (constantly picking fights) and daily blowups so constant that they considered throwing a challenge just to rid themselves of him. Which is fine, but Eddie's separating his military service from Shamar's gameplay sums up some broader issues with regards to returning vets. Namely, nobody (in the game or watching it) seems to care about the damage done to Shamar's psyche during his tours, and unsurprisingly (yet disappointingly) pile on him. This is our country: send soldiers into a pointless war, then look at them askance when they come back damaged like it's their fault. Well done, USA.

Second: Brandon Hantz. Mark Burnett et al were morally if not criminally negligent when they first cast such an obviously mixed up kid in the Coach vs. Ozzy season, and to cast him a second time exhibits cynicism and human disregard of the highest order. Burnett and Jeff Probst both say that Brandon passed his pre-casting psych evaluations, but I firmly believe that Burnett and Probst had such a raging hard-on for another Hantz to make the show that they fixed it so that he would pass despite looking bipolar (again, I'm not a psychiatrist).

Corollary to second: in the aftermath of Brandon's crack-up (wherein he dumped out his tribe's rice and beans), Corinne (well-established human garbage) (her and a whole bunch of online commenters) blame Brandon for not just spilling the tribe's food but also parts of their tribal gameplay -- this is the height of myopia, narcissism, and apathy. The kid needs psychiatric help that go beyond the scope of the show, and these people ("people") can't step back for half a second to see the pain that I'm positive is a regular part of his waking life.

Couple non-tv things I've written. First, a review of Autechre's Exai here. Second, I went to the ballet! Thoughts here. Summary: OMG SO AWESOME.

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