So You Think You Can Dance – Now with 100% more social commentary!

Since my sister couldn’t watch this week, I thought I’d do something a little different. I don’t know if it’s me or the show this week, but it was tripping off all kinds of my feminist/progressive/over-analytical buttons, so I thought I’d write about that stuff instead.

First of all, this season, they’ve been saying that the girls are just amazing, amazing powerhouse dancers who rock their worlds, and the guys . . . are really good. Ish. But they have to work hard to keep up with the girls, dontcha know. I’ve been finding this pretty annoying, myself. And I’d be especially pissed if I were a guy who didn’t make the cut. “Really? I’m not even good enough to play with these apparent losers?” I’d also like to say, if you’re going to say shit like that, stop voting off one guy and one girl. Because that means you’re letting girls go who are better than the guys you’re keeping, and that’s no fair. We’re supposed to be voting for America’s favorite dancer, not America’s favorite couple, no? And we all know same-sex ballroom can be done, even if it freaks Nigel out. But it wouldn’t even have to be! Just don’t give the girl-girl pairs ballroom that week! (Oh, I know, the dancing styles are randomly drawn from a hat. As if.)

But anyway, this meme has led this week’s show to feature a lot of “girls dominate!” dances, or at least a lot of chatter about “girls dominate!” dances. The first group routine featured four of the girls attacking four of the boys with chairs. The second group routine featured the other four girls poisoning the other four boys’ wine glasses. (It was actually a hella cool routine by a contemporary choreographer who also did Sasha and Alexander’s routine this week. He’s very intense and melodramatic but the dancing is pretty awesome.) And one of the dance routines featured Melanie (love!) supporting and pushing up and generally helping out Marko (love!) while he got over his fiancee who just left him at the altar, and then dun! dun! dun! He realizes he really loves her! (And it’s a credit to the dancers that they took this totally cheesy “lyrical” “hip-hop” piece and performed the hell out of it. I love them both. They are my favorite couple.) Which Cat tried to sell as “Girls rule!” And listen, I like a romantic storyline in which one party or the other suddenly looks at their best friend and goes, “You!” as much as the next person, but this was not a “girls rule!” moment. This was a “girl actually, literally supports a man until he finally can be arsed to notice her” moment. Not the same thing.

And my problem with all this is that the show presents this all as so sexy and cool and, like, progressive of them, to be celebrating talented girls who can kick the asses of talented guys! I, a feminist, am supposed to be pleased by this development!

I am not pleased. Because this is exactly what these MRA types and others think feminism is, and it’s why people hate it. Because they think feminism is about girls taking power away from boys, girls beating up on boys, girls “dominating” at the expense of boys. It’s not. Many people have been more articulate than me about why it’s not and I can be more articulate than this about why it’s not another time, but it’s just not. And look, if there were a dance about boys poisoning girls collectively, it would be dark and serious and tragic. But the dance about girls poisoning boys was cute. And you’d never have boys miming the level of violence towards girls that the girls mimed during the first group routine with the boys, it would be too scary. So what I’m saying – and what most feminists are saying, actually – is that violence by women against men is just as uncool (if less prevalent) than violence by men against women. And what this show seems to be saying is, “Boys perpetrating violence against girls is evil and scary and dark. Girls perpetrating violence against boys is beautiful and/or sexy and fun. And, thinking that way is a progressive, hip, cool way to think.”

And I hate that.

But then the show has this other meme, which it always has, which it always has had, in which, in the interviews/rehearsal footage, these girls, who are 18-25, with gorgeous dancer bodies and beautiful TV-ready faces, who have been studying how to use their bodies for years and also hit puberty some time ago, have to pretend that they do not believe they are sexy, do not believe they can project sexiness, do not have or like sex, and still sleep with a stuffed bunny in their bed. This would be annoying enough. But then the show also demands that they get on stage and dance sexily. They’ll get dinged if they can’t be adequately sexy on stage. And they’ll get dinged if they don’t act like innocent virgins off stage. Which is, like, a literal representation of regular life for women, but this is what’s called “normalizing” that.

Then Nigel forcibly kissed Mary Murphy. She actually seemed genuinely frightened and then genuinely pissed during the kiss. But then she had to laugh it off, of course. Because being actually pissed would have made her look like a bitch. And no one likes a bitch! Sexual assault is funsies! Swear! Then the judges had to keep this going. Guest judge Kristen Chenoweth (who I love, but come on, girl. You’re the queen of character work through song and dance; no one on that stage is better than you. Not even Melanie and Marko who are awesome.) kissed Li’l C. Then Nigel kissed Li’l C. Because he’s totally not homophobic, you guys! And as funny as a man sexually assaulting a woman is, it’s even funnier when a man sexually assaults another man! Homosexuality is hi-LAR-ious.

And then they had a dance routine about two people waking up in the same bed who don’t remember how they got there. Because date rape is also hilarious!

Okay, it’s not date rape if you can’t tell who’s the victim and who’s the perpetrator (right?). But still. This was supposed to be so adorable, how they were horrified by each other’s presence at first and then wanted to, like, totally do it again. That’s not . . . well, maybe I’m a big old prude. And Jordan and Tadd certainly danced it well and it was super-fun. Although then Li’l C had to be all, “NappyTabs, your concepts are just so inventive!” (NappyTabs was also responsible for the left-at-the-alter-best-friend-love one) and I’m going, “Inventive? These are plots of movies starring Ashton Kutcher and/or Katherine Heigl.”

But it’s part of a narrative on this show that’s at once disturbing and totally normal, and it’s about who women are sexually and who they have to perform being sexually and how fucked up that all is. Except the show doesn’t acknowledge that it’s fucked up. They think it’s cute and fun.

And we won’t get into all the moments that I wish I had that little .gif with the boy going, “That’s racist!”

Dancing? Yes, I believe there was dancing. The first group number by Tyce D’Orio was good. Though I didn’t understand the three glow-in-the-dark circles under each chair. They looked like those Ti-D-Bowl things.

Sasha and Alexander (Fun fact: In Russia, “Sasha” is a common nickname for “Alexander.” So now you know.) did a beautiful contemporary piece by that new guy. Alexander seemed almost as good as Sasha this time. I hate the camerawork on this show sometimes, though. We don’t need so much swooping. We should probably stay more or less where they audience is to get the full effect of the dance.

Caitlyn and Mitchell totally rocked the Jean-Marc Genereux (love!) samba, especially Mitchell and his crazy, crazy hips.

Miranda and Robert did a Tyce D’Orio routine. They continue to be meh for me. This was better than their jive but I felt a lack of connection to each other even when they were actually, you know, touching.

Melanie and Marko as I mentioned did a NappyTabs routine. They continue to be the bomb with frosting and I love them. In addition to being wonderful dancers with great movement, they can perform the hell out of anything.

Ashley and Chris did a Sonya Tayeh piece. They disappointed this week but Nigel’s critique was pretty much spot on so I have nothing to add.

Clarice and Jess looked great tonight doing a Jean-Marc foxtrot.

Ricky and Ryan’s Sonya Tayeh routine made me think a lot about the production of this show. Like, they get their dance style Thursday night after the results show. They perform Monday. At what point did Sonya Tyre say, “We need cloth, we need it to be this length”? How long do they have to rehearse with it? How does that all work? Which is to say, the dance was meh.

Jordan and Tadd rocked their NappyTabs number.

And the final group number by that new(?) guy was pretty awesome even if I object on ideological grounds.

Not surprisingly, to me, anyway, Robert and Miranda went home. So I will not make fun of her tendency to wear what appears to be regular underwear a lot of the time, and will just say I think she has a lovely and interesting face and her solo was pretty good. So was his, actually.

The surprise last night was that there was no doofy, forgettable pop act backed up by some former contestants. Instead there were two dance performers, a ballet duo with one member of the duo in a wheelchair. Awesome. Then there were the “theatrical ballroom” world (national? No, world.) champions who were OH MY FUCKING GOD. Just one day, God. I just want one day in someone like that’s body.

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