SYTYCD Season 9 – Top 16

Sorry this is so late. We went on vacation.

As usual, we begin with:

Cat’s Outfit

Kate: What is up with her this season? How tacky/old school is that dress?

Erica: Yeah, I didn’t much like it. Plus it was bunching in the back from her mike. Shouldn’t there be, like, a cottage industry of fashion designers making dresses specifically for reality show participants that can accomodate microphones without ruining lines?

Kate: That is a positive idea.

Erica: I liked her hair a lot.

Kate: Her hair is oooooo-kay, but I don’t like dark lipstick on her.

Erica: I don’t know; I thought it was a nice change. She is awfully fair for it, though.

Kate: Speaking of dark lipstick, Er, I bought that Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm in Hibiscus and I love it.

Erica: That’s not dark at all.

Opening Routine

Erica: Oy.

Kate: Well the chair part was cool, because that involved actual dancing instead of scampering about the stage with odd expressions on their faces.

Erica: You know what? The dance was great and the dancers were great in it. They were all really together, even when the movements weren’t the same – it was like their hearts were beating in sync. And they held their weight somewhere around their chests and they looked great doing it. It was just so very catered to Amelia’s whole schtick and it annoyed me. Even though I like her.

Kate: Ha! I am slowly turning you against her. (Disagree with most of the rest of what you said, though.)

Erica: Wait, it was choreographed by Tasty Oreo? Wow. I usually hate his non-Broadway routines.

Tiffany & George: Hip-hop, Out of My Mind by B.O.B. featuring Nicki Minaj, choreographed by NappyTabs

K: Well I OBVIOUSLY love THIS! Holy Toledo Tiffany is fantastic at hip-hop, she seems even sharper than George (but how is that possible because he’s black and it’s hip-hop, right, Nigel?).

E: Oy again. “We’re having a BABY so we thought we’d do a BABYSITTING routine because we are so ON THE EDGE and INVENTIVE.” Sorry. I know you like them. And yeah, Tiffany and George did a great job, especially Tiffany.

K: You are such a NappyTabs hater, this was fun and you know it. It actually reminds me of that thing Jeanine and Ade did with the boxes (Move If You Wanna), which coincidentally inspired the hip-hop routine I taught in my class.

Amber & Brandon: Jazz, Dr. Feelgood (Love is a Serious Business) by Aretha Franklin, choreographed by Ray Leeper

K: All right, now I see what y’all are saying about her legs and her lines. Pretty fantastic.

E: He’s a new choreographer, right? Or newish? I liked it.

K: But . . . this routine made me slightly uncomfortable, like Brandon made it TOO sexy with all those very slow body rolls. Come to think of it, I think that’s all he did in the dance really, isn’t that boring?

E: Um . . . Brandon could do body rolls all day and not bore me. Sorry. But it was supposed to be hot and it was hot, so good job them.

K: I did not find it hot. Her hair makes me equally uncomfortable.

E: Yeah, I’m glad Brandon told us she’s a hair dresser because now all of her bizarre hair choices make sense.

K: Also, this is jazz? Isn’t it more contemporary-ish?

E: Where is the line, I ask you? WHERE IS THE LINE?

Janelle & Dareian: Cha-cha, Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepson, choreographed by Pasha (!)

K: A cha-cha to Call Me Maybe. Good grief.

E: Anya and Pasha’s year, Anya did a jive (presumably with Danny, but as good as Danny is, who’s looking at him when Anya’s dancing?) to Avril LaVigne’s “Girlfriend.” To this day I have a totally undeserved affection for that song, because of Anya’s dancing. Yes, Nigel, dancing is a powerful and amazing art form.

K: So I think she looks great because she’s a belly dancer and transferring that to ballroom can’t be TOO hard except for the partnering thing, but that is exactly where they are falling short here. He looks too excited and is missing a lot of connections. In ballroom it doesn’t matter how good one person looks, if the other is off the whole thing is wrong, wrong, wrong.

E: I actually didn’t think she looked that good. I expected better, precisely because of her belly dance background.

K: Well at least the judges agree with me for once!

Lindsey & Cole: Contemporary, Wild Horses by Charlotte Martin, choreographed by Mandy Moore (but not that Mandy Moore)

K: I know we’re all saying Thank goodness Mandy is back, because this was beautiful. Cole is freakishly appropriate to play “hate”, no? I mean, he has such a fierce face.

E: I have to agree. You know, I make fun of the constant reality-show-ese on this show, but the truth is, the contestants do get better and better every year, because Cole and Lindsey are maybe my least favorite of the Top 16 (except for Janelle, maybe). I thought both of them got in sort of under the wire. I thought Witney was better than Lindsey and I thought Cole was in for the “not really a dancer!” ness of him. But you know what? They are still freaking amazing.

K: My one complaint about this routine is not that this is a Rolling Stones cover because I really like it, it’s that she has her hair down and I hate when people dance with their hair completely down and she was flipping it around so much we couldn’t see her face. Not that I need to see her face, I just think that’s a childish move and I don’t think it was direction that came from Mandy.

E: Well, I don’t know how much input the choreographers have over hair and make-up, but I do know Lindsey has none. And I get worried about the girls dancing with their hair all over the place. I find it so distracting when my hair is in my face and I’m usually not trying to, you know, stand with one foot on the floor and the other foot all the way up in the sky. But I really loved how Christina Applegate – I love her so much as a judge on this show – was like, “You spoke with the muscles in your body and that was enough.”

Amelia & Will: Jazz, You by The Creatures, choreographed by Mandy Moore

E: What, did Mandy Moore have to go somewhere later? They had to put both her numbers back to back?

K: It appears Mandy Moore put all her efforts into the contemporary routine and just kind of half-assed this one. It really wasn’t great choreography or a great song, so them dancing it well couldn’t have done much to save it.

E: I did like the dancing more than the judges did, though. I thought they were fun and upbeat and amusing, which is what the two of them do well.

K: Also, don’t get mad at me for saying this Er, but I think they were going for some sexy stuff here and Amelia is just not believable as sexy.

E: I, in fact, did not notice any attempts at sexiness, so you’re right, I guess she’s not.

K: The size difference between Amelia and Will is fairly amusing.

Audrey & Matthew: Salsa, Cinco Salsa by Sverre Indris Joner/HBC/Kork, choreographed by Liz Lira

K: I definitely like her Latin ballroom outfit better than Janelle’s.

E: Yes.

K: Their little “what you should know about my partner” blurb in the beginning makes me think they are not-s0-secretly making out between rehearsals.

E: Maybe that’s distracting them and it’s why they kind of sucked.

K: Matthew Gosling was, like, barely moving at all until they split up, but I think he was too embarrassed to be wearing a bright red sparkly pantsuit to really enjoy his time up there, know what I’m saying?

E: It was an embarrassing suit.

Witney & Chehon: Contemporary, I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston, choreographed by Stacy Tookey

E: My first reaction was, “Oh, please don’t have Stacy Tookey and Mandy Moore in the same episode! I can’t tell them apart!”

K: There was passion exploding out of their fingertips before they even started moving; they were clearly very excited to do this routine.

E: As well they should have been.

K: He is truly my favorite dancer this season and possibly one of my favorite since I started watching the show. I mean, the man doesn’t make a false move ever. I had chills all over my body at that BOOM LIFT moment, as I’m sure the rest of America did.

E: Yeah, I have nothing bad to say about this. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful work.

K: It was kind of a weird ending, though, no?

E: I thought it was perfect. Actually, I thought the ending to the Lindsey/Cole number was weirder, because Mandy said “If you’re just pure and love and blah blah blah, you can beat hate,” and then it didn’t look to me like love beat hate. But what do I know?

K: Agreed, I wasn’t sure who won that battle. But Chehon totes won in this, oy (in a good way)!

E: Oh, by the way, yes, it’s Witney, no h. Do you suppose that’s why she was in the bottom three last week? Because people texting in their votes didn’t know/remember that?

K: Ha!

Cyrus & Eliana: Hip-hop, Toxic by District 78, choreographed by NappyTabs

K: This is pretty creepy and weird in the best possible way, I didn’t know NappyTabs had that in them!

E: I was disdainful of the premise – The guy who dances like a robot is going to be a robot and the ballerina is going to be a ballerina! Inventive! – but the dance was seriously awesome and they did a seriously awesome job with it.

K: Stop analyzing NappyTabs’ creative juices! This isn’t So You Think You Can Conceptualize! Anyway, she was very, very sharp at the hip-hop stuff, and this was obviously the perfect routine for him. She even did isolations!

E: There is nothing she can’t rock at. She’s my favorite.

K: The last 2 routines were the best of the night and possibly the whole season to date.

Solos & Eliminations

E: So, the Alvin Ailey thing – Nigel, did you like it because it was uber-masculine, or hate it because boys danced together in pairs?

K: Oh, I didn’t really like that at all. And as for the solos, I sort of hate solo dancing.

E: I usually can’t tell what’s going on in solos, although – and I say this with love and a little bit of “You are fiiiiine,” Brandon’s really sucked.

K: Which is why he went home. I guessed Amber and Brandon would be the ones to go, I was right, and I am totes okay with it.

E: How did we not talk more about how much I love Christina Applegate?

K: That just goes without saying.

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SYTYCD – Season 9 – Top Twenty Redux

We have quite a special treat for you tonight folks, a special treat indeed: we are actually in the same room tonight as we watch So You Think You Can Dance Season 9 (official) Episode 2, and we have a few very special guests commenting on the routines along with us. It’ll be like you’re watching right along with us! Isn’t that exciting?!

Kate: Cat’s outfit?

Erica: What do you think?

K: Um… She looks kind of like a post-sex mess?

E: Is this sort of loose-on-top thing popular now?

K: Yes.

E: I’m not so in love with that. But I like her hair, makeup and jewelry.

K: Still think she looks like she just had a nice roll in the sack. Maybe she did. Hopefully not with Nigel.

E: Ew! Thank you so much for putting that image in my head!

Group Dance

K: Ooh spooky! I can’t wait for Halloween.

Connie (E & K’s mom, aka The Grand Duchess of Snark): This looks exactly like that Michael Jackson monster song.

E & K: Thriller.

Zoe (E’s daughter/K’s niece, for the two of you reading this who don’t know): It’s hard to dance outside!

K: I hate Marilyn Manson.

E: I feel like a lot of them could be a little tighter. Maybe it’s because the dance is so fast, it’s like they’re just trying to get to the next move on time. Is it a Sean Cheesman? (Answer I looked up later: No. It’s a Chris Scott.)

C: There’s too many of them on stage at once.

Introduction of Dancers & Judges

Z: Eliana and Cyrus loves each other! There are guys who are married!

E: Oh hey it’s Adam Shankmann! I was hoping we would see him, although I was hoping more as a choreographer but whatever.

K: There’s still time. I think he’s mad at me for my Rock of Ages post.

Lindsey & Cole: Jazz, Teeth by Lady Gaga, choreographed by Christopher Scott

K: Oh I love this song.

E: Sexy dentist, really? That’s the theme?

Z: That’s a bad dance!

K: I feel like I’m enjoying the routine mostly because I like the song, but it’s still kinda cute?

E: This is bizarre, I hate this. It’s not their fault that I hate this; it’s just a stupid concept.

Z: Don’t say that!

E: Sorry. It’s a foolish concept.

Z: It’s a stupid dance!

K: Well they aren’t dancing so much as running and jumping around, so okay I guess I don’t like it that much either. On to the next.

Amelia & Will: Contemporary, 3326 by Olafur Arnalds, choreographed by Sonya Tayeh

K: I still can’t get over the similarity of her haircut to mine when I was four years old.

E: Goodness she’s pale.

K: She’s like, not serious enough. She’s smiling, isn’t this supposed to be sad?

E: Yes but look at her legs.

K: Oh they look great together when they are not touching.

E: She really seems to lead in the dances.

K: Okay so this was better than the first one but it didn’t knock my socks off.

E: I think it was good, they were very connected.

Z: Yuck!

Amber & Nick: Tango, Tenguera by Sexteto Mayor, choreographed by some chick we can’t look up because we’re posting this so early! 

E: Is he seriously getting another ballroom?

K: Looks like it!

E: They nearly missed a hand connection. See, he’s another one who knows how to perform sexy without actually being sexy; it’s a Mormon thing I’m telling you.

K: I don’t think he looks sexy at all; I think they both look ridiculous.

C: No he’s not good at all.

E: He’s a good dancer!

C: Nah.

E: But the tango should be steaming hot, and this is not at all hot.

C: It sounds like polka music.

K: I am not impressed.

E: They’re also wearing way too much makeup. His looks bizarre.

K: I’m 0 for 3 on agreeing with the judges tonight. Mary Murphy’s shirt is making me very uncomfortable.

Audrey & Matthew: Contemporary, Here Me Now by Steed Lord, choreographed by Sonya Tayeh

K: Wow they are using her a lot this year.

E: They’re not quite on the music.

K: This isn’t really even music.

E: I feel like they’re not hitting the beat right.

K: They’ve got some really cool tricks going on though. She’s so athletic.

E: Oh good, let’s talk more about what Nigel loves about the show he executive produces. What’s that? You love how dancers dance outside their genre? That’s great.

K: Well with no Lil’ C, someone has to fill the air with pointless jabber.

Janelle & Dareian: Hip-hop, My Girl by The Temptations, choreographed by Christopher Scott

C: Bad match of song and dance.

K: It doesn’t quite work, but it was a good try.

E: He’s sharper than a contemporary boy usually is.

K: Yes, I think he’s much better than her right now.

E: She’s too bouncy?

K: Yeah, but he’s great doing that old school Motown walk. I’m becoming a fan of his. But this Christopher Scott guy is doing too many cutesy dances.

E: Awwwwwwwwwww!

K: A real kiss at the end! I love when they do that!

C: But that has nothing to do with dancing.

E: Well, their acting was pretty good, and that’s what the judges care about here.

Janaya & Brandon: Jazz, Bring On the Men by Linda Eder, choreographed by Sean Cheesman

E: I love this song!

K: I feel like this is more musical theater than jazz, and I do not like when there is more acting than dancing. Like, MOVE people!

E: This is dumb. It doesn’t really matter how they’re dancing, it’s dumb. She’s way over-acting.

K: Whoa, cool body roll trick.

E: Dumb. I don’t like Cheesman much as a choreographer.

K: Oh my god Cat said “cray cray”.

E: More than once.

Kate: Why do the judges refuse to say anything negative in Season 9 so far?

E: Very annoying.

Eliana & Cyrus: Jive, I’m Shakin’ by Jack White, choreographed by Tony Meredith & Melanie LaPatin

E: His lack of training is showing so much. I mean he’s so talented but they should have let him come back another season.

K: Yea, she’s smoking him right now.

E: He’s just not ready for this kind of competition. It’s almost a shame that they put him through this time.

K: I’ve seen the light.

C: I think it’s his hair. It’s keeping him off balance. Eww FEH what is in his ears?!

Alexa & Daniel: Contemporary, So Long My Friend by Yanni, choreographed by some guy we can’t look up because we’re posting this so early!

C: Dancing in and out of a bathtub.

E: I’m already annoyed with the choreographer and the dance isn’t doing anything to make me feel otherwise. They are just flailing beautifully and tragically.

C: In the bathtub.

K: Guys, I like it. And I don’t like her as a dancer at all.

E: I mean they danced it beautifully I just didn’t like the routine.

K: What’s the difference?

E: They delivered, their lines were fluid and everything, but the choreography was bland and unoriginal.

K: Well, this isn’t So You Think You Can Choreograph!

E: *Glares*

K: But look Adam agrees with you, sorta.

E: And there are times when I like the choreography but not the dancing.

George & Tiffany: Fox Trot, I Want To Be Loved By You by Sinead O’Connor, choreographed by Tony Meredith & Melanie LaPatin

Z: He’s not beautiful!

E: Oh but I like him.

Z: No!

K: This is kind of nice, but they seem a little shaky and unsure and you need to have serious control in a dance like this.

E: I think she’s overacting a little.

K: How do you overact a fox trot?

E: She’s just got a goofy grin.

K: So does your boy. The fox trot is kind of a goofy dance. They keep doing these almost-lifts, so that’s kind of weird and anti-climactic.

E: They got a wildly enthusiastic response for a fox trot.

C: It was the dress.

E: It’s kind of a cool dress.

Z: He is not beautiful because he does not have a beautiful dress and is not sparkly. But she does!

Whitney & Chehon: Bollywood, Tandav Music by Aatish Kapadia, choreographed by Nakul Dev Mahajan

K: Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Bollywood!

C: That’s a nice outfit.

K: I think his technical perfection makes him amazing in this.

E: He’s very precise.

K: They’re both doing great I think.

Z: Can I belly dance?

E: Yeah they’re both doing a really good job.

Z: It looks like Jasmine movie!

K: This is my favorite of the night. He is perfect.

C: Great outfits.

Step Up Revolution dance

K: Weeeeeeee Twitch! Weeeeeeee I can’t wait to see this movie! Now I want to watch the Twitch and Alex dance.

The Results

E: So with Nick, Daniel and Chehon in the bottom for boys, and Janaya, Alexa and Whitney in the bottom for girls, I predict correctly that Chehon and Whitney will be saved.

K: Ugh thank God they kept Chehon. I mean, DUH, but thank god.

E: I’m sort of sorry to lose Alexa. It was so palpable how badly she wanted to be there and she’s technically wonderful. But whatevs, I knew from the start that these judges were going to just adore Whitney in everything she said and did so I’m not surprised.

K: Til next time!

A Very Quick, Small Thing about Rape Jokes

I don’t need to tell you guys about the Daniel Tosh rape joke kerfuffle this week, right?

Great. Now my very small point. Most of the guys I know – because I know mostly good guys – want to be protectors. They want to be defenders of women. They want to be heroes. They want to slay dragons. And believe me, guys, most of us want you to. Even if we want to slay dragons, too.

But here is the thing. Guys, when women hear you tell a rape joke*, or laugh at a rape joke, or defend the maker of a rape joke, we hear one thing – don’t look to this guy for support if you are raped. And/or don’t tell him about the time you were in fact raped. It’s the same thing we think when we hear you go rape-apology. You’re not on your side. You’re on your rapist’s side. You aren’t the heroic dragon-slayer. You’re the guy on the sidelines going, “Yeah, dragon! Get ‘er! Breathe that fire! Woohoo!”

Now, I know you don’t think laughing at a rape joke is that big a deal. But when a woman is raped or sexually assaulted, it’s a pretty vulnerable time for her. She needs to know for damn sure that the people she looks to for support are going to give it, 100%, no questions asked. And you laughed at a rape joke. So she’s not sure.

And I know some of you will say, “How dare you? Of course I would defend my sister/daughter/friend/woman! I’d want to kill the bastard!”

Here’s the thing. The bastard is very rarely that crazy monster-man who jumped out of the bushes to assault her. And she’s usually, like, a person, not some pigtailed virginal beacon of perfection. So when you conceptualize the rape that the woman you know might have suffered, conceptualize, too, the things that actually happen. Think about how you’d react if your female friend told you that it was your friend, your good buddy, who’s always at your parties, who always gets a little hands-y and aggressive but you know, he’s a good guy at heart, it’s just that women have to know to what he’s like, that’s all – he raped her. At a party. She was a little drunk. She tried to push him off but he’s stronger than her and she got scared and confused so she froze up. Does she know for sure that if she tells you about it, you’re not going to say, “But you know how he is! Why did you let him get you alone?”

Or what about that guy your wife was always sort of flirting with? It annoyed you, that she flirted with him, that she went on about how cute his ass was. But this one time he came over at night when you weren’t home. She let him in; of course she let him in. You guys are friends. They laughed and flirted – until he got dangerous. Then she said no, but she didn’t want to make much noise because the baby was sleeping. So maybe she wasn’t as vociferous in her protests as she could have been. Will she be afraid that you’ll conclude that this was an affair and not rape at all?

Let’s say your sister is cornered by a client of the company she works for. He’s a big deal; she’s not. If she loses him, she risks her job. She doesn’t want to, but she doesn’t say no . . . exactly. She says, “Please don’t get me fired.” To some guys, that sounds like consent. To some judges, that sounds like consent. Is she going to be absolutely sure that it won’t sound like consent to you?

Let’s say it’s your daughter. She’s been partying a lot. She’s been drinking and maybe more; you know for sure and you’ve grounded her but it doesn’t seem to do any good. She’s wearing these tiny little outfits everywhere and when you restrict them, she just puts them on under more acceptable clothes and takes off the outer layer when she’s out of your sight. She goes out every night looking for trouble, and one night, she finds some. Is she going to be able to talk to you, or is she going to think you’ll say she had it coming, what with her behavior lately?

Those are just some examples. Obviously, rape happens in many ways. The main point here is, when a rape happens to a woman you love, do you want to be her hero? Or do you want to be the guy she perceives as standing on her rapist’s side? Because if she’s already marked you, on her list, as someone who laughs at rape jokes, who makes rape jokes, or who apologizes for rapists, you’re either not going to know that any of these situations have happened to her, or she’s going to drop you from her life when they do or at least distance herself quite a bit. So if you want to be a dragon-slayer, you’ve got to first be a person a woman would tell about the dragon.

Now, let’s say that you’ve read this post, and you’re going, “Dammit! I have laughed at rape jokes! But I totally want to be the dragon-slayer! Is it too late for me?” No. It’s not. Chances are, the women in your life are there because they love you and see you as a good guy, or at least a redeemable guy. Just start now by not doing that anymore.

(I should note that slaying the dragon in this case rarely means literally killing the rapist. Usually it means hand-holding and allowing your shoulder to be used, or maybe offering some real logistical support like going with her to the rape crisis center or to the police, helping her organize her life so that she doesn’t need to be in contact with her rapist anymore if that’s possible, etc. It’s less exciting and glamorous but it’s usually what’s needed.)

(I should also note that it could be your brother or son or male friend who’s raped. It’s rarer, and it’s really rare that he’d trust someone enough to tell them, and if you’ve ever laughed at the very idea that a man could be raped, well, then, you’re not going to be his dragon-slayer, either.)

Wow, I said this was going to be quick, didn’t I? Sorry.

*By rape joke, I mean a joke in which the victim is the butt of the joke. There are plenty of ways to make a good rape joke, as is illustrated in the article I linked to. The rules of comedy are actually pretty simple. You can make fun of power structures. You can make fun of people in power. You can make fun of people who do bad things. You can make fun of hypocrites. You cannot make fun of those who are oppressed. You cannot make fun of victims. That is all.

I Have to go to Bat for the Disney Princesses Again?

No, Ricki. No, you don’t. You don’t have to do anything. You’re just going to.

So this is up over at nerve.com, which, last time I checked, basically had personals and dirty pictures and stories, but, you know, hipster-classy dirty pictures and stories. Then again, it’s been a while.

And of course there’s no way I’m not going to respond to it.

So I generally agree with the list as it’s presented. But I’m having a little trouble with the premise. In the beginning of the piece, Sonya Saraiya says, “Disney princesses for the most part, are not [feminist (in comparison with Merida, of Pixar’s new Brave]. Most need to be rescued by their male love interest; almost all Disney Princess movies end in marriage or engagement.” This is a popular way of posing questions about the feminist virtue of a particular text, and I don’t like it. And sure, I have a personal stake here – I write romances; I am a feminist; I think I can write feminist-friendly romance. But stake aside, I still think I’m right.

I mean, first of all, most of the world wants love. Feminists, non-feminists, men, women – it’s right there with food and shelter for most of us. Declaring that wanting love is un-feminist (if the object of your love is a man and you are a woman) is destructive to feminism.

And because most of the people who have ever lived in the world ever want love, we’ve been telling stories about wanting love forever. Lots of stories. I think if you compiled all the stories about love that have been told since the world began, and then all the stories about death, love would win. Especially since love has the powerhouse romance novel publishing sector backing it up.

Sure, it would be nice if Disney told more stories that were marketed for girls that didn’t feature love as a main theme. Woody and Buzz fall in love, but it’s not their main plot. Nemo doesnt fall in love, and neither does his dad. Remy the rat in Ratatouille doesn’t fall in love (although his human does). The Incredibles are already a family; there’s no love plot there. So yeah, it’d be nice to see stories with female main characters that had little to nothing to do with love. But I don’t think it’d be a problem to still have romances, if they were mixed with some other things.

Finally, it’s important to note that, when these stories end in marriage and/or engagement, a man is getting married or engaged, too. And while the princes of Cinderella and Snow White aren’t fully realized characters with fully realized facial features, the later movies have guys who are fully realized and also decided that the most important thing to them is the pursuit of love. So it’s not just the girls doing it.

So here’s her rankings and what I think of them.

10. Sleeping Beauty

She puts Sleeping Beauty last. I don’t have a big problem with this. Sleeping Beauty is one of the old-school ones, and Aurora does not have much agency, and mostly she dances in the forest with some dude and then falls asleep while he rescues her.

But.

Saraiya is only ranking the princesses, sure, but as an overall movie, the people in this one with the most power, the most agency, the ones who do the most stuff to forward the plot, are the three good fairies. Prince Phillip can only come to the rescue and do stuff because they basically do it for him. They figure out that he’s the one whose kiss can wake her. They break him out of the evil fairy’s dungeon and then defend him against the evil fairy’s minions by turning all the evil minions’ weaponry into, like, flowers and stuff (because they can only use their magic to do nice things that bring happiness) so that he can run away safely. And then they create for him an unbeatable sword with which he defeats the dragon/evil fairy.

I mean, sure, the evil fairy is a woman, too, and she’s mean and has no seeming motivation (in the originals as well as the Disney version) other than “Didn’t get invited to party. Bitches gonna suffer.” Which sounds dumb except I totally know people like that.

But that means basically all of the people in this movie who act, who have agency, who forward goals and make plans and do stuff, are women. They’re just not the titular character. (They’re also old and/or asexual, which, again, is a whole other post. Or, I don’t know, dissertation. Which someone’s probably already written.)

9. Snow White

I hate this movie. I hate her voice. It grates on my nerves so much. Plus why does she look like a child? And then my daughter’s got this Snow White night(ing) gown/costume thing that looks like Snow White’s outfit, with a picture of Snow White on the chest, and that picture of Snow White is giving this seriously come-hither look, like, why, why, on a children’s item, is a woman making a face like that, and, umm . . . what were we talking about?

Oh, yeah, where ought it rank on the feminist scale?

I don’t care. I hate this movie. Put it right down at the bottom. It’s fine by me.

8. Cinderella

So this is your classic helpless-girl-rescued-by-wealthy-dude story. But for some reason, it doesn’t bother me that much. I mean, yeah, Cinderella’s principle characteristic is that she’s nice. And yeah, she marries a guy she danced with for five seconds because it’s true love.

But here’s the thing about that. I don’t mean to slam anyone’s generation or anything, but sometimes I hear stories or see things from, you know, back in the day (Cinderella came out in 1950; Sleeping Beauty was 1959) and I get the feeling that it would have seemed utterly reasonable to the writers and artists over at Disney, male and female, that you know, you meet someone, you dance with them, you’re attracted, so yeah, let’s get married! I mean, not all the time, obviously. But I think we’ve gotten a lot more obsessive and analytical, as a culture, about what love is and who we ought to be with and stuff. For better or worse.

Also, I’d like to note, that while yes, marriage to the prince means that Cinderella doesn’t have to be a servant to her nasty step-family anymore, the prince doesn’t, like, actively rescue her. He doesn’t even come over himself to find the girl who fits the shoe, which is always the oddest bit of storytelling to me (in all the versions of “Cinderella”), because seriously, wouldn’t it be best to have the prince, who’s stared at her face for at least one full waltz, to come on this mission? What if her feet had been swollen from dancing all night? What if some other chick had had the same shoe size?

But anyway, he’s not trying to rescue her through marriage. He just wants to marry her because they danced and she was pretty and it was romantic. The ones who really rescue Cinderella are the mice, because they’re the ones who get Cinderella the key when her stepmom locks her in the attic to prevent her from trying on the shoe. And, yeah, they’re male mice. But they are obviously not her love interest.

I’m not objecting to Cinderella’s placement on this list. Just making some points.

7. The Little Mermaid

Oy, here we go again.

There are many problems with Ariel. She’s way too young, and she’s immature and impulsive and kind of dumb sometimes. She’s rebelling against her dad. She’s fetishizing human-ness and falling in love with the first dude she meets who has legs.

But I don’t think she’s particularly un-feminist. Or, at least, I think the problems in this movie aren’t coming specifically from a lack of feminism.

Saraiya mentions that thing that always makes me nuts about mentions of this movie from a feminist angle, that she gives up her voice to land a man. I’ve made this point before, but I’ll make it again. I posit that a) she doesn’t give up her voice to land a man; she gives up her voice to get legs. She wants to be human. Before she meets Eric, she shows us how obsessed she is with humanity and how badly she wants to be “Part of Their World”. Then she only goes to the sea witch, not after meeting Eric, but after her daddy destroys all her human stuff. Being human, sticking it to her mean daddy, these are all much clearer and stronger motivations for her actions than wanting to land a man. Also, b) she doesn’t think she’s giving it up permanently. It’s for three days. I’d give up my voice for three days if doing so would allow me to fulfill a lifelong dream. Hell, I’d give up my voice for three days if it’d get me a table at Next. (And, when I was a child, I would definitely, definitely have given up my voice for three days in exchange for fins.) Finally, c) she gets the idea to give up her voice to land a man from the villain, who’s tricking her into it for her own nefarious purposes. The movie is not suggesting it’s a good idea to give up your voice to land a man. The movie is suggesting it’s an idiotic, impulsive idea, and then shows us that Eric is reluctant to acknowledge the feelings he’s developing for Ariel specifically because of her lack of voice.

Anyway, yeah, she gets rescued by Eric, who stabs the villain in the stomach with a broken piece of wood on his ship. Wow, I just realized how Freudian these things can get sometimes. Anyway, I guess that’s un-feminist. Ariel is sort of ineffectual in battle.

I just think there are other problems with this character that are not related to how feminist she is.

6. Beauty and the Beast

So the thing leveled at Belle most of the time is that she’s got Stockholm Syndrome, falling for her captor. And that’s legitimate to a point, but it’s worth noting that she doesn’t start falling for him until he shows her that he can be kind. She doesn’t think she can change him; she sees him change and then decides she might give him a chance.

There’s also the way Disney pumped this as a “We’re showing that you can love an ugly person, and that a pretty person can be evil, so it’s feminist!” movie, but the good ugly person and the bad pretty person were still dudes. You still have to be pretty if you’re a girl. So pretty that the most sought-after guy in town is determined to marry you no matter how much you offend him and how weird he thinks you are.

My mom has also complained that Belle declares her desire for “adventure in the great wide somewhere,” but then settles for life as a princess in a castle a few hours’ drive from that “poor, provincial town” she was so longing to get out of.

I posit that maybe falling in love with a beast in an enchanted castle counts as an adventure?

And we don’t really know what happened after the story ended? Maybe the Prince formerly known as Beast decided he, also, wanted to get the f out of the castle he’d been trapped in for ten years and they went on adventures together?

I’m ret-conning, I know. Sorry.

5. Aladdin

Saraiya likes Jasmine. So do I. I do want to point out, this isn’t her movie; she’s the secondary character. It’s Aladdin’s movie. But she’s got sass. She’s resisting her narrow choices, just like Belle was doing. And I personally love how quickly she picks up on Aladdin’s well-honed tricksterisms, either using them in tandem with him (like when she picks up super quick on how to fake her way out of the stealing-an-apple incident) or to catch him out in a lie (like when she pointedly trips him up with a question about Abu). Saraiya complains that her power, in the end, lies in her sexuality, because her big rescuing action is to pretend to seduce the bad guy for a minute there, but concedes that, hey, sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do with her God-given ridiculous waist-to-hip ratio and crazy thick hair. I also don’t like how she’s bad-ass right up to the moment she decides she loves Aladdin, and then she immediately becomes simpering when not silent. But, you know. It’s not her movie, it’s his. And he gets rescued from his life of poverty through marriage to a princess. So, you know.

4. Tangled

She is super naive and childlike, which can be grating. To me, anyway. Other than that, she’s not bad. She’s got a goal that does not have to do with getting married and she pursues it with as much sass and guile and strength and determination as one could wish. Along the way she falls in love, and really, who could blame her? Flynn Rider is adorbs. She wields a cast iron pan and her miles of hair with panache. I do find her to be excessively wide-eyed, but, you know. Not the worst crime a Disney princess could commit.

I also enjoy how, after watching Aurora and Ariel get married at sixteen, and Jasmine I think is supposed to be eighteen, though I have no evidence, they make a really big deal of the fact that Rapunzel, who turns eighteen in the course of the movie, does not actually marry the love interest for years. And years. And years.

3. The Princess and the Frog

See, now, in this movie, they both have to learn that love is worth pursuing, either in addition to (although possibly at the expense of) your dream career, in her case (and she has a dream career! That is exciting for a Disney princess!), or instead of pursuing a life of wasteful leisure, in his. I’m down with that.

She does, in the end, have her dream saved by his family’s wealth and her new alligator friend’s brawn. Actually, my favorite commentary on this movie comes from the folks over at The Editing Room, who have this to say:

Well, that’s a fine message to be sending to the kids: idealism and hard work is [sic] fine and all, but money and muscle win every time. (pause) Wait a minute, that’s actually an EXCELLENT lesson. Holy shit, I think Disney accidentally made their best movie ever!

2. Pocahantas

See, I think she’s giving this movie a pass because the girl doesn’t end up marrying the guy. I think Tangled and The Princess and the Frog should have been ranked higher than it. But possibly that’s because I think it’s a bad movie. By that I mean, it’s not very well-written or well-plotted; the history is god-awful; the whole noble-savage fetishization is uncomfortable; the music has its moments but is kind of dull; the characters are flat and boring, and one of them is voiced by Mel Gibson. So I don’t think the principle problems with this movie are feminist problems. But I also don’t think there’s anything especially feminist about it, beyond the nineties-standard doesn’t-want-the-life-her-father-planned, a trait shared by the much lower-ranked Belle and Ariel and Jasmine, unless you’re willing to count that she doesn’t marry the dude in the end, which, as I said above, in a rather long-winded way, you really shouldn’t be.

1. Mulan

Well, duh. I mean, Disney intended this to be their super-duper-feminist-pleaser. And one could argue about how she’s really doing this all for the honor of her father but, come on! She saves China! Twice!

It should be pointed out that neither Pocahantas nor Mulan are usually included in the Disney Princess stuff. There are two different sets of Disney Princess figurines; one of them has Mulan and one has Pocahantas. Both of them have all the others, except Rapunzel, because Tangled was still being marketed separately when those figurines came out. But they aren’t in the coloring books and I don’t think they have all the paraphernalia that the other princesses have. I mean, there are dolls and costumes but not, I think, cups and lunch boxes and whatnot.

Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, I think as far as the actual Disney-brand merchandise, sold in the Disney stores, is concerned, Mulan and Pocahantas are Princesses, albeit less hyped ones. But when third-party licensed manufacturers are producing stuff for Target and Toys ‘R Us and the like, Mulan and Pocahantas are usually left out of the pantheon.

Also, while Pocahantas is legitimately a princess, being the daughter of a chief, Mulan is not. She neither marries a prince nor is the daughter of a king.

Great. Now I’m going to have “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” stuck in my head. At least it’s a good workout motivation song.

BTW, if you like it when I talk about this stuff, you should check her out.

SYTYCD – Season 9 – Top Twenty!

Finally! Let’s do this!

Kate: Must start with Cat’s Ensemble. Cute dress, very Jennifer Aniston and gold is SO in right now (I mean, when is it not?), but not her best. Not Top 20-worthy, know what I’m saying? And that belt is way too 90s for my taste. 

Erica: Hey, did y’all know about this? I haven’t watched yet, but, um, cool.

Kate: Yea, she’s just great. But I also think she looks a little too tan, like she is really naturally tan and then they put too much make-up on her.

Erica: Her make-up reminded me of a story, because I am, in fact, 90 years old and will bore you all with my anecdotes. See, when I was at sleepaway camp, I was in a production of Aladdin, and the drama director that year had a thing for make-up. He was giving the girls huge bright powder blue cream powder all over their eyes, lash to brow, and big red spots of blush, like, in perfect circles, and bright, hot pink lipstick. But me, I was playing a boy – the Grand Vizier’s son, who, if you only know the Disney version of Aladdin, the Jafar character actually wants his son, and not himself, to marry the princess – so I just got a sheet of “brown face” to look more Arab, I guess, and eyeliner. I was glad at the time to just have a monochromatic, not wholly embarrassing look. But that same look is not really doing Cat any favors. Still gorgeous! Still great hair! Still great legs! Just saying.

Kate: And obviously the shoes are phenomenal.

Erica: Obviously.

The Group Number

Erica: Wow, they really can’t get over that Neil and Sabra number on this show, can they?

Kate: Um, that was cool. But I have seen them dance in groups enough, I want to see them in pairs dangit!

Erica: I liked the number. And I’m glad we’re preserving the concept of the group number, even without the results show.

Kate: Meh.

The New Format

Erica: I’m really not sure about this new format. So next week will be treated as both the results show and the next show, and you’ll use America’s votes from this week to pick a bottom three, and then their dances from next week to determine which four dancers go home? And then no one votes on next week and the following show, people vote again? It’s too weird for me.

Kate: I don’t get it either, but I haven’t been paying as much attention as you and I never actually vote so I just want to watch the pretty people prance around.

Whitney Carson and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp – Samba to “Jump” by The Cube Guys and Luciana; choreography by Louis Van Amstel

Erica: First of all, I do not “get to know the dancers better” by seeing them flub through ridiculous 9 second nonsense.

Kate: Yeah, I don’t need to know them either. Um, isn’t she supposed to be the ballroom dancer? He is completely outdoing her in this.

Erica: I thought she was perfect, but, like, pageant-perfect, you know?

Kate: YEA, she wass being too cheerleader smiley; this is supposed to be a sultry dance, no?

Erica: She seemed like she knew how to perform “hot” without really feeling “hot.”

Kate: Also, he is probably one of the technically best dancers I have ever seen. AB-solute perfection.

Erica: I thought he was a very supportive partner, which, honestly, is to be expected of him, but he didn’t seem exactly hot.

Kate: ALSO, are you noticing those Dirty Dancing-inspired outfits?! His is SO Johnny and hers is SO Penny.

Erica: I confess, I didn’t notice.

K: But now do you see it?!

Erica: Sure.

Tiffany Maher and George Lawrence II – Contemporary to “Turning Page” by Sleeping at Last; choreography by Sonya Tayeh

Erica: Well, I said last week that I wouldn’t remember who Tiffany was, but I guess if she’s going to be paired with my man George, I’ll have to try.

Kate:  Oh my god, yes. Beautiful. Stunning. Very “melty,” which is what Sonya said she wanted, and why, yes, she IS looking rather soft and feminine and tan and loving, Nigel. Weird.

Erica: It was really lovely. Sonya really uses flexed feet well. I don’t know what I mean by that, really. I just know that contemporary uses flexed feet, but when I see her flexed feet, they’re usually sharper and stronger, and used in moments where I find them surprising and maybe meaningful. I’m sure if I knew more about dance I’d be able to express that better.

Kate: Flexed feet are so the new pointed feet.

Erica: Kenny Ortega told them they “spilled it.” I wonder if I will have to, in the coming weeks, tell Nigel and Mary to stop trying to make “spill it” happen.

Kate: What is spilling it? Do they mean killing it?

E: I think “spilling it” means “Mia and Li’l C get to make up words and phrases all the time! Why can’t I?”

Janaya French and Brandon Mitchell – Hip-Hop to “Take Care” by Drake feat. Rihanna; choreography by NappyTabs

Erica: So NappyTabs wanted to do a number about an alcoholic who has to choose between his love of the bottle and his love of his woman. Yeah, this is totally how alcoholism works. Way to handle a big “issue” with all the sensitivity and subtlety I expected of you, NappyTabs!

Kate: You stop that talk. Once again Nappy Tabs makes me wonder why I am not pursuing a career in professional dance, with them as my personal choreographers for every day life. Their routines are so perfect and their moves are so simple yet powerful. I just sort of want to be them as well as be their student and child and best friend.

Erica: I obviously disagree with your sentiment, although their dance routines are usually pretty much fun.

Kate: But Janaya looks a liiiiiitle bit awkward doing hip-hop but I am guessing this is her first time and she is putting in a great effort, but he is obviously better in this genre. NO NOT BECAUSE HE’S BLACK, BECAUSE HE’S A HIP-HOP POPPER LOCKER CRUMPER THING. Right?

Erica: He’s a stepper.

Kate: That’s what I said.

Erica: I thought she was over the top with the characterization, which made him seem underwhelming. Which is not to say he was underwhelming; I thought he was quite good. They just weren’t, you know, in sync. That part where she jumped up into his arms was awesome, though. Like, she jumped up with her legs split, parallel to the floor, and he caught her under her thighs and lifted her. Damn. I also loved how Kenny Ortega, the guest judge, was all, “It’s amazing how hip-hop is changing into this thing that can tell a story.” It’s Season F-ing Nine, Kenny. They’ve been doing this forever. And “making hip-hop tell a (really obvious, often cliche) story” is kind of NappyTabs’s thing.

Kate: Yeah, DUH Kenny. I don’t like him as a guest judge.

Alexa Anderson and Daniel Baker – Jazz to “Hey Hey” by Dennis Ferrer; choreography by Sean Cheesman

Erica: So we have the Type A personality with the asshole. And both very, very pale. He used his whole nine seconds to tick off stereotypes about Australians that he’s apparently annoyed Americans think about him.

Kate: I don’t like that she made the Top 20 still.

Erica: Sean Cheesman’s scary, scary pecs are in hiding this year.

Kate: Ew.

Erica: There is a weird scaffold on stage which they play around with, but mostly they are rushing around trying to hit each step. This number is fast.

Erica: Nigel points out that there’s no real breathing room in a Sean Cheesman number, and he doesn’t say so, because he’s Nigel and the people employed by this show can do no wrong, but I know he agrees with me that this is a problem in this particular number, and it’s the fault of the choreography, not of the dancers. Also, their costumes are really, really stupid. Especially hers.

Kate: Totally!

Erica: That said, she’s really, incredibly gorgeous.

Amber Jackson and Nick Bloxsom-Carter – Viennese Waltz to “Nights in White Satin” by Tina Arena by Jason Gilkison

Kate: Emmmmm . . . This is kind of boring? They are both, you know, good, but you have to be REALLY good to make a waltz interesting. And they don’t have much chemistry. Not impressed, bottom 3! Or bottom whatever it is now.

Erica: You know, for all that they show Jason yelling at Nick, he looks totally confident and in charge on stage. I’m not his biggest fan – and this dance is right in his very well-practiced wheelhouse – but he really stands up here. And her legs are just fluid perfection throughout the whole thing. But, yeah, waltzes are kind of boring.

Amelia Lowe and Will Thomas – “Character” P/Hop to “The Lovecats” by The Cure; choreography by NappyTabs

Erica: So she’s a sophisticated house cat (who they for some reason dress like a mid-priced hooker in 1983) and he’s a “back alley cat daddy”. And then they have the nerve to complain that Will isn’t taking his character seriously. Um . . . “back alley cat daddy”?

Kate: AMAZING. Amazing that I like a routine with her in it, amazing that NappyTabs is now doing some kind of hip-hop jazz mashup, amazing all around. I have officially changed my mind about her.

Erica: Oh, good, because I liked her in this but then wondered if that was because I’m plebeian and bourgeois. I liked both of them, really, and the number as a whole. I mean, they prowl around pretending to be cats wanting to get it on with each other (in a garbage thing! Ew!) and there’s nothing super-difficult about it, but they really brought it to life.

Kate: And then Nigel makes the creepy comment about him wanting her to be his cat, or something. Ugh.

Erica: I must complain, however, about the CAMERA WORK! I know I go on about this every year, but seriously, people, STOP SWOOPING! I CAN’T SEE!

Kate: Yea guys, she can’t see. Gosh.

Janelle Issis and Dareian Kujawa- African Jazz to “Jungle” by Hilight Tribe; choreography by Sean Cheesman

Kate: I love when they announce Sean Cheesman as the choreographer. I always think it’s a joke, but it’s not. That’s actually his name.

Erica: I continue to have liberal white guilt attacks whenever they do African jazz. “It’s just like regular jazz only with more exotic animal-ness!” I mean, I know Sean Cheesman is himself black, so maybe I shouldn’t give a crap but . . . I don’t know. I’ll try to stop.

Kate: I love African jazz. This was a super cool dance but they look so DOOFY! I mean, RIGHT? I feel like you have to have somewhat serious faces on when doing that kind of routine in those kinds of outfits, but they are all WEEEEEE LOOK AT US IN THE TOP 20!

Erica: She’s flexible like crazy. Her legs can do things that most legs attached to human bodies cannot do. This dance was also a no-room-to-breathe Sean Cheesman number, but I thought it worked better than the Alexa/Daniel one. But wait, now, I go back to my thing about the format. Because are there still going to be solos? I don’t necessarily want Janelle gone, but I would like to see a solo.

Eliana Girard and Cyrus “Glitch” Spencer – Broadway to “Run and Tell That” from Hairspray; choreography by Tasty Oreo

Kate: Um, Tasty Oreo? Tyce Diorio?

Erica: Yeah, if we’re going to call them Nappy Tabs, I’m going to call him Tasty Oreo. Which should in no way indicate that I like him as much as I like tasty Oreos.

Erica: So this is where the “You don’t even KNOW about dancing and look at how fabulous you are!” narrative comes in, only this time it seems legitimate. I mean, I know it’s the editing, but as far as I can tell from what he’s said about himself, Cyrus really hasn’t had any formal training, so when they say, “for an ‘animator’ [which is a whole new term to me], that was amazing!” it’s a little less annoying than it usually is. It still IS annoying, though, because Nigel goes, “You’re not a GREAT dancer yet,” and that guy who didn’t make the top 20 when Cyrus did is probably at home going, “Well I fucking AM, so why is he there and not me?!”That said, you know, for a guy whose experience with choreography and styles of dance other than his own is limited to his week in Vegas with these cats, he pretty much rocked it. Although not nearly as hard as Eliana rocked it. She’s my number one girl, and by such a long shot I can’t really see anyone else catching up. I mean, a lot of these girls, they’re flexible, they have beautiful lines, blah blah blah. But technically, Eliana is better than them, and performance-wise, she’s seriously awesome.

Kate: But it wasn’t that good of a dance. I don’t like this almost as much as I didn’t like the waltz. I usually love Tyce but this is surprisingly boring and unoriginal.

Erica: I don’t know, I had fun. But it’s not like they could have choreographed something to “Run and Tell That” that would have displeased me, though.

Audrey and Matthew – Contemporary to “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers; choreography by Travis Wall

Erica: This is so confusing to me. I love Travis Wall. But he is inspired, for this dance, by the movie Titanic, which he calls the greatest love story ever told. I hate that movie so incredibly much. (Also?Ask me some time about why I hate the ending so much. You know. If you want to hear it.) But then he uses “Unchained Melody” which may be my favorite song in the world. It’s certainly in the top five. So how do I deal with all of this?

Kate: Ah, the Righteous Brothers routine. Pretty random song choice to go with a Titanic theme, but it goes with the dance itself, so I wish my boo Travis Wall just hadn’t said anything about that big stupid boat. This is something else though; lots of great lifts and good chemistry between them. Looking forward to seeing these two grow. I feel like he’s the type that would throw in a kiss at the end of another routine like that. Or so I’m hoping.

Erica: Also? He seriously looks like Ryan Gosling.

Kate: I stand by my last statement.

LIndsay Arnold and Cole Horibe – Paso Doble to “Unstoppable” by E.S. Posthumus; choreography by Jason Gilkison

Kate: I really just want to spell it possadoblay, but I know that’s wrong.

Erica: My spellcheck hates “doble” and keeps changing it to “double” no matter how much I change it back.

Kate: Anyway, I hate this. I can’t believe Mary Murphy is loving this so much. They are saying it’s the best possadoblay ever on the show, and I am like, um, are you bitches blind or somethin’? (Name that movie!)

Erica: Too easy.

Kate: I was really hoping for great things from the other Miss Ballroom but alas I am disappointed. Cole is pretty talented, though.

Erica: I knew Nigel was going to love this. Cole, who I know I was hard on last time, was extremely masculine and strong and with very precise, sharp movements and beautiful hands. And we know how Nigel loves his macho paso doble guys. But, you know, the paso doble is the guy’s dance. So she didn’t shine, and I already don’t think she’s as good as Whitney, but I wasn’t looking for her to shine in this, just as I’m not looking for the guy to shine in other ballroom dances. And this was one of the better pasos for this show.

Kate: Yes, you’re right, Cole was very good. He scares me just a wee bit.

Erica: But wait a second . . . all three ballroom dancers got to dance ballroom?! I call shenanigans.

Kate: Didn’t even notice that! Cheaters.

Erica: Also, did you  notice how every dance they did was the best dance this show has ever seen? I can’t fault them here, since I also think that was the best paso doble I’ve seen, and it’s certainly the one Nigel has responded the most strongly to, and he loves the paso doble, but still, guys, calm down. You need an arc, you know what I’m saying? With highs and lows?

Kate: YES I did notice that, like COME on you know that’s not true! Kenny said a lot, stupid Kenny. That was not the best possadoblay I’ve ever seen, but I am pretty biased against the dance as a whole. It’s not like fun to watch, it’s just a random genre they wanted to throw into the show to represent “diversity” along with African jazz and Bollywood. Speaking of which, I can’t wait for the first Bollywood of this season.

Erica: I can’t wait for Nigel to go on about how he practically invented Bollywood.

Kate: Touche. See you next week folks, and for that episode, E & K will actually be viewing the dances together in the same room! WOO!

Fast and Furious

Have y’all heard about this plan? I heard it from Rachel Maddow and I heard it from Jon Stewart and I heard it from Bill Maher. If you haven’t heard, the deal is this. The ATF was selling guns to people they knew to be taking those guns to Mexican drug cartels. They were doing this in order to follow the chain of those guns to the higher-ups in the Mexican drug world. Then, in no surprise to anyone, they failed to do that thing. At least one US agent is dead, many Mexicans are dead, and they’re dead with our guns.

Donkeys are braying about how this was really a Bush plan, and the elephants are being really hypocritical and also crazy, and wouldn’t they be dead even without our guns (which, hello, is a sort of anti-gun-control statement to make). Elephants are bellowing either about how dare Obama want to keep a lid on this, or clearly this is some twisted conspiracy on the part of Obama to make gun policy that results in a disaster so epic people start calling for gun control, and then he can push through the gun control legislation he wants. Which is obviously nuts. Because a) it really did start in the Bush administration, which is not me crying, “Hey, this is all Bush’s fault,” because Obama let it go on for three years of his administration so, you know, both are to blame, but still invalidates the conspiracy theory, and b) do the Democrats really seem this capable of organization, forethought, and the control of public discourse to you? Come on now.

I am really annoyed that this has become so partisan so quickly. I’d rather focus on how stupid this plan was in the first place. Because when I first heard about this, I couldn’t believe this was an actual thing that happened and not the plot of a Bruce Willis movie.

Here’s how I see it:

Opening credits over a series of scenes of the violence and decadence of Mexican drug gangs and the news they are making there and in the States and maybe some footage of kerfuffles at the border and whatnot. Some of the footage is shot for the film and includes our actors; some is taken from actual news footage.

Then we swoop to the ATF field office in Phoenix, AZ. Chris Cooper is a muckety-muck at the ATF. He presents this plan to his field agents. His field agents are mostly too scared of him to argue, so they pursue this plan with varying levels of enthusiasm. We’ve got one guy (Scott Caan?) who is very “I follow orders because that is my job and my job is not to think.” One guy (Channing Tatum – obviously) is all, “Whatevs, I’ll finish my shift and then hit the bar where all the honeys flock to me.” Then there’s the guy who’s super-smart and really dedicated to his job and believes in Chris Cooper because he believes in The System. He’s played by Ryan Gosling, if we can get him.

But then something goes horribly wrong – like, I don’t know, a US patrolman (Bryan Greenberg) is shot with one of our guns. His mother (Ellen Burstyn) and his wife (Hayden Panettierre – she’s old enough to play a wife now, right? A young wife? She could be pregnant!) start screaming into any microphone they can find, demanding justice. So they send in Bruce Willis, who looks around with his smirk and his boulder of a face and sneers about how could you be so f-ing stupid as to think this was a good plan in the first place? And Chris Cooper snarls at him and he snarls back and then Bruce takes his team into Mexico.

Bruce Willis’s team contains a young, sassy black woman, played by Rosario Dawson, for whom he has paternal feelings. And Rosario Dawson is married to ultra-supportive, manning-the-home-front James Marsden, because I don’t think you’re actually allowed to turn on a camera if James Marsden is not standing in front of it. And he’s also got Jorge Garcia, who is kind of afraid and is in charge of the tech/translations/comic relief. But then, somewhere at the forty-five minute mark, they go to this village where an America gun was used in the murder of an old woman, whose son the drug lords were tracking down because he owed them money. Only it turns out that old woman was Jorge Garcia’s abuela! The son is Jorge’s daddy! Jorge’s mom took him to the U.S. when he was a young teen to get him away from the pernicious influence of his drug-dealing dad! So now, after much pursuing and fighting and detecting across Mexico, when they confront that particular murderer, Jorge Garcia doesn’t hold back; he shoots the guy. Which sets them back for a minute because they needed to question him but then Jorge does some computer magic (Thugs who work for Mexican druglords all have MacBooks, right?) and gets them the evidence they needed anyway.

So the team follow the trail of these guns and it leads them to one particular drug kingpin (Edward James Olmos) and they find out, oh my God, that Edward James Olmos and Chris Cooper were working together the whole time! It was all a conspiracy to get the guys working for Edward James Olmos more guns! Oh, and then Ryan Gosling is so distraught because the whole time he was helping Chris Cooper at the expense of Bruce Willis but it turns out Chris Cooper was evil. So Ryan Gosling is the one who compiles the necessary documents to prove that Chris Cooper is evil and sends them to the higher-ups. And then he gets Chris Cooper’s job.

And then critics would pan the movie because, well, OF COURSE Chris Cooper was in bed with the Mexican drug kingpin, because otherwise, WHY WOULD YOU EVER THINK IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO SELL GUNS TO VIOLENT CRIMINALS? It would do a respectable if not spectacular job at the box office and later be considered a good movie to Netflix if you’re looking to turn your mind off and look at some gun fights, some beautiful Mexican scenery, and some Rosario Dawson in skimpy shorts for a couple of hours.

(Hey, any Hollywood types reading this right now? This shit is copyrighted. Well, it’s copyrighted by virtue of me having written it. And then the registered copyright is pending. Will be pending. So if you think this is in fact a good idea for a movie? Show me the money.)