November 24, 2009


Hatched by Dafydd

One pitfall -- or do I mean pratfall? -- into which a disturbing large percent of conservatives fall -- including Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, and a rasher of conservative columnists -- is to pooh-pooh such supposedly "elitist" pastimes as dance, serious music, and art. I suspect that if you scratch many self-proclaimed conservatives, you will hit populism without having to drill too deeply; populists (in the socialist sense) eschew putative "highbrow" entertainment in favor of the manly pursuits of the masses... hence the snorting rejection of "feminized" entertainments such as the TV show Dancing With the Stars.

Here is how DWTS works; hat tip to Wikipedia:

The show pairs a number of celebrities with professional ballroom dancers, who each week compete by performing [ballroom and Latin ballroom] dances. These are then given scores by a panel of judges. Viewers are given a certain amount of time to place votes on their favorite dancers, either by telephone or (in some countries) by the Internet. The couple with the lowest combined score (judges plus viewers) is eliminated. [Wash, rinse, repeat until one couple is declared the winner.]

They award the winner a trophy that the senior host, Tom Bergeron (of America's Funniest Home Videos fame) calls a "mirror-ball trophy," after the perennial prop in a 1970s disco... though to me, the trophy looks more like a giant, gold-plated golf ball.

The show is a miracle of wholesome entertainment -- and it should be exactly what real conservatives like: People entertaining the audience without resorting to explicit sex, sadistic violence, rejection and mockery of traditional American values, anti-religious hysteria, or Republican/conservative-bashing, which are all staples of most fiction television and TV (so-called) "news" shows. Other than a Mussolini-like obsession with being a "regular guy," I cannot fathom why so many conservatives go out of their way to spit upon DWTS and anybody who participates in the show.

Tom DeLay was a contestant in this season's DWTS; he actually did reasonably well, but he had to drop out due to a foot injury (a pair of them, actually). He certainly did not disgrace himself, as Hewitt and Medved and other conservatives (neocon in Medved's case) confidently and derisively asserted he would.

In any event, Sachi and I just watched the finale of DWTS; all three finalists performed three dances each: One assigned dance (e.g., Argentine Tango or the Cha-Cha-Cha), a group dance, and a "freestyle" dance wherein anything went.

Those of you who have been watching this season know that the three finalists are Kelly Osbourne (daughter of Ozzy Osbourne, former lead singer for Black Sabbath), singer/songwriter Mýa Marie Harrison, and entertainer Donny Osmond. At the end of the finale, based on the judges' scores (half the final score, the other part being supplied by the TV audience's vote), Mýa led with 87 points out of a possible 90; Donny was next with 85; and Kelly brought up the rear with 76, I believe.

As half the score comes from viewer votes, either Mýa Harrison or Donny Osmond could win; Kelly Osbourne is quite far behind Mýa and likely cannot catch up on viewer votes.

This season was fairly lackluster, though Donny Osmond stood out as the pre-eminent entertainer of, in my opinion, the entire show, all seasons. Mýa is a pretty good dancer, but I believe the judges have been overscoring her for some time now. Kelly started as a whiny cry-baby with the attention-span of a horsefly; but she blossomed (no better word) into a confident and adept dancer, not in the same league as most of the other dancers -- certainly not in technical merit -- but endlessly engaging.

Anyway, the point of this dreary and sordid post is simply this: I want to go on record predicting that, regardless of the fact that Mýa Harrison currently leads the pack, I predict that the winner tonight (Tuesday night) will be Donny Osmond: Last week, he ended up in last place on the "leader board" (counting only judges' scores), following an entirely uncalled for, and in my opinion unprofessional, set of scores for his first dance; yet despite being in last place, his fan base saved him by voting overwhelmingly. Osmond did not even end up in the bottom two, I don't believe.

I take it that he likely has the most numerous and enthusiastic fans of any of the contestants. Since he is only two points behind Mýa on the judge's scoreboard, I predict he will prevail. While Mýa may have a large following -- I have no idea -- I doubt they would be big fans of DWTS; contrariwise, fans of Donny Osmond are exactly the sort of folks who would watch a dance-contest television show.

In fact, Donny Osmond is the conservative that folks should have been watching all during this season; Tom DeLay was just a distraction. I have nothing against the former House Majority Leader; in fact, I firmly believe he is being railroaded by Travis County District Attorney and diehard Democrat Ronnie Earle, who indicted him on what I believe to be knowingly false charges, the purpose of which was to force him from public office. Even so, Donny Osmond is more interesting to me, because he has forged a successful career in the music industry, in movies, and on the stage... all while being openly and unapologetically conservative.

Osmond is not a political activist (though he did support California's Proposition 8, overturning the Cal Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage); he lives his conservatism in real life, his honesty, decency, and rectitude unquestioned. Not even D.A. Earle at his vilest could have found a hook to hang an indictment of Donny Osmond.

He is, however, a Mormon; and I suspect that there is a certain animus against Osmond on that basis, just as there is against Mitt Romney. I also detect the traditional sneering by hyperintellectuals directed against instinctual conservatives like Walt Disney, John Wayne, Ronald Reagan, George Murphy -- and Donny Osmond (as well as against his sister Marie). Add in the populist problem, and I suspect that if Donny Osmond were ever to run for office, he would receive the "Palin business" from a large chunk of the conservative high-verbals.

(I trust Walt Disney more than the chattering class, and he was on the side of the Osmond Brothers; they got their first real break performing at Disneyland in 1958, while Uncle Walt was still alive and running the whole Disney empire.)

I make a secondary prediction: If Donny Osmond wins, he will still be utterly ignored by "movement" conservatives, despite the great potential for spreading the conservative memes using folks like Osmond. Thus the head severs itself from the body.

So sad; I see this rejection by Donny's natural constituents as another sign of the terrible and perhaps unbridgeable rift between the conservative "intellectual" (most aren't very) elite and the rank and file conservatives and Republicans. Nowhere is that rift more obvious than here in California, where the Cal GOP appears to have made a deal with the devil: They pledge not to try to expand their numbers from abysmal up to rotten, ceding the permanent majority to the Democrats... in exchange for the latter's assurance that they will allow the current Republican incumbants to serve out their wretched and meaningles careers without any serious Democratic opposition.

Thus have the elites thwarted the will and desire of the Republican electorate. So it goes.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 24, 2009, at the time of 4:26 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this hissing:


The following hissed in response by: Michael Babbitt

I have been a So You Think You Can Dance fan. I learn a lot from that show about different types of dance and enjoy the physical artistry, strength, and versatility of the dancers. Also, many dancers come from the streets and have to try completely different forms and it amazes me how so many skills are transferable. Yes, there are always silly controversies associated with every entertainment show but I find them a wonderful distraction from a maddening world.

The above hissed in response by: Michael Babbitt [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 24, 2009 9:00 AM

The following hissed in response by: BigLeeH

Thanks for the reminder; I must check the DVR to see if it caught the finals or set up the computer to grab it off a torrent.

I think you overestimate the importance, late in the season, of the fan base that the celebs bring with them to the show, or at least you don't stress enough the potential they have for adding to that base during the course of the season. Because the show is a 50/50 mix of dancing performances vs documentary footage about the celebs working on their routines, the audience gets to factor in their work ethic as well as their technical skill.

Both Aaron Carter and Kelly Osbourne hurt themselves early on by appearing as over-sensitive whiners. In Carter's case this sunk him -- the home voters never forgave him despite a number of really quite excellent performances and he was constantly hurt, and finally eliminated, by the call-in vote. And, while Kelly may have benefited from the fact that audience members are more forgiving of the odd teardrop if you are female, the fact was that she buckled down, worked really hard, and earned her way into the finals. At this point I am pretty much OK with any of the three winning: Mýa is an exceptional dancer, Donny is the consummate showman and a very good dancer as well, and it has been entrancing to watch Kelly grow into a strong competitor from such an inauspicious start.

I share you dismay that so many conservative pundits fail to recognize DWTS as ideal entertainment for conservatives, or Donny Osmond as the perfect conservative family-values role model. I loved Donny's affectionate vamping with openly-gay judge Bruno Tonioli. It helps to dispel the misconception that people who live traditional lifestyles do so because they fear or misunderstand people who make other choices.

One of the things that bugs me about many right-wing pundits is that they define conservatism entirely in terms of a list of things that conservatives must oppose and pay little attention to those things that conservatives seek to conserve -- their litmus tests are more about having the proper animus than the right affections. For straight-laced, Mormon, family-orented Donny Osmond to be a contender in a dance contest is quite a victory for traditional family values but many conservative talking heads won't see him as a conservative role model: Donny just isn't angry enough to qualify.

The above hissed in response by: BigLeeH [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 24, 2009 10:35 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


I like the point about Donny Osmond not being "angry enough" to qualify as a real conservative; that argument goes a long way towards explaining why so many conservative "intellectuals" initially rejected Ronald Reagan, why they still reject Sarah Palin, and why they retroactively reject Walt Disney, George Murphy, and Robert Heinlein.

Yet I think it a recent phenomenon; conservatives in the 1950s and 60s had no doubt that the last three, plus Reagan, were one with conservatism ("movement libertarianism" did not exist yet as distinct from conservatism): They were all Capitalists, anti-Communists, and supported traditional American values -- even though they did not always live those values: Reagan famously was the first president to have been divorced, while Heinlein enjoyed orgies, wife-swapping, nudism, and such.

It also explains conservatives' fascination with Fred Thompson: He always looks angry enough to spit!

By the way, until I read your comment, I had no clue that Bruno Tonioli is gay; to my mind, he acts just the opposite... he salivates over every female contestant who comes on the show.

But it's right there in Wikipedia, so I cannot but accept it.

(Although I normally hold Wikipedia in skeptical regard, given its provenance, for this sort of information it's usually pretty accurate: If it were false, I am sure that Tonioli himself, or a minion, would swiftly have removed the claim. And the proprietors of Wikipedia are quick to lock entries where there appear to be tendentious attempts to insert false information.)


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 24, 2009 12:41 PM

The following hissed in response by: snochasr

Wow. "Wholesome entertainment" is not what I would call DWTS, though it has become a tad bit moreso, I suspect because of earlier criticism. Remember all the jokes about Edyta's various states of undress, and the ongoing remarks (from Tonioli in particular) about the sexiness of the female stars. Some of the dance moves, too, ought to be rated PG-13, at least. All that said, it's a great show with a big following.

You forgot to mention that this is one of those things where us average folks CAN make a difference, by voting for Donny at In true ACORN fashion, you get to vote 5 times for each email address you can make up.

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 24, 2009 1:42 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Wow. "Wholesome entertainment" is not what I would call DWTS, though it has become a tad bit moreso, I suspect because of earlier criticism. Remember all the jokes about Edyta's various states of undress, and the ongoing remarks (from Tonioli in particular) about the sexiness of the female stars. Some of the dance moves, too, ought to be rated PG-13, at least.

Ahem. "Wholesome entertainment" is not synonymous with "suitable for young children." <g>


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 24, 2009 6:21 PM

The following hissed in response by: snochasr

You are correct. Most of the problems with the costumes and lewd posturing is perfectly fine for young children. It is the adults who get the wrong ideas. Or maybe the right ones. :-> Did you catch Donny Osmond's comments about his thigh-grabbing move last week, calling it the "you sleep on the sofa" move? We know what he meant, the kiddies would not.

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 25, 2009 7:35 AM

The following hissed in response by: Sachi

Donny won!

The above hissed in response by: Sachi [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 25, 2009 9:27 AM

The following hissed in response by: BigLeeH

By the way, until I read your comment, I had no clue that Bruno Tonioli is gay; to my mind, he acts just the opposite... he salivates over every female contestant who comes on the show.

But, Dafydd, he's a choreographer for God's sake! Of course he's gay. I'm as opposed to stereotyping as the next guy but there comes a point where a degree of logical induction from observed data cannot be avoided. And as to his near-obsessive attention to how sexy the female contestants are that is entirely in character. Most straight guys think that female sexiness is something that just happens -- like blue eyes or double-jointedness -- and even those of us who know that sexy is something that you do, as opposed to something that you are, still have very little idea how it is done. Straight guys have no motivation to study of art of attracting other men but gay men do. When Bruno went on and on about how sexy the girls were he was just offering a critique of another dimension of their performances. And because he is gay everyone took it as such. If he was straight he would have had to dial it back to keep from being creepy, as in Len Goodman's occasional admissions of having been mesmerized by a female dancer's derriere.

The above hissed in response by: BigLeeH [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 25, 2009 12:52 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for hissing in, . Now you can slither in with a comment, o wise. (sign out)

(If you haven't hissed a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Hang loose; don't shed your skin!)

Remember me unto the end of days?

© 2005-2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh - All Rights Reserved