The View from My Kitchen

Benvenuti! I hope you enjoy il panorama dalla mia cucina Italiana -- "the view from my Italian kitchen,"-- where I indulge my passion for Italian food and cooking. From here, I share some thoughts and ideas on food, as well as recipes and restaurant reviews, notes on travel, and a few garnishes from a lifetime in the entertainment industry.

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Grazie mille!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Dancing With the Stars: And the Winner Is...Nobody

Okay, You Can Breathe Now, But...

The party's over. The people have spoken. The mirrorball trophy's going home with Jennifer Grey, the winner of Season 11. But is she? Did Season 11 have a winner? I don't think so. Death threats? People shooting at their TVs? Proven and unproven accusations of political machinations? The mirrorball is tarnished and nobody really won. That's a shame for the dedicated people who worked really hard only to be pulled down by an underlying current of mud and muck worthy of the most vicious political campaign.

"The viewers have spoken." Maybe. But are the producers of Dancing With the Stars listening? 

Consider, if you will, the dictionary definition of a star: “a self-luminous gaseous spheroidal celestial body of great mass.” Or, in simpler terms, a big ball of flaming gas.

Now consider ABC's definition of a star: Kate Gosselin, Bristol Palin. Hmmm.....

For the record, let me unequivocally state two things: First, I don't hate Bristol Palin. Second, I screamed “YES-S-S-S-S!” so loudly when she got the hook on DWTS that I frightened my cat out of several of its lives.

If this seems like a contradiction in terms, it's not. I don't hate anybody without good and sufficient cause, and being the talentless daughter of a ridiculously overblown politician does not constitute good and sufficient cause. So, no, I don't hate Bristol.

What I strongly disapprove of is ABC's shark-jumping drive to boost ratings by lowering the qualifications for “stardom” to apply to two women whose only claim to fame is their reproductive prowess. Like Ado Annie in “Oklahoma!,” Kate and Bristol are nothing more than a couple of girls who can't say “no.” And this fulfills Andy Warhol's prediction in what way? Neither woman is deserving of fifteen seconds of fame, let alone fifteen minutes.

And yet there they were, dancing with the legitimate stars.

Let's go back to the dictionary for another definition of a star: “the principal member of a theatrical or operatic company who usually plays the chief roles: a highly publicized theatrical, musical, or motion-picture performer: an outstandingly talented performer <a track star>: a person who is preeminent in a particular field.”

David Hasselhoff, Jennifer Grey, Brandy Norwood, Florence Henderson, Rick Fox, Michael Bolton, and Kurt Warner all fit the criteria. Kyle Massey and Audrina Patridge sort of fit. “The Situation” is a definite stretch. But no amount of manipulation makes Bristol Palin a part of the equation. The DWTS producers even had to make up something to call her. “Movie Star?” No. “Actor?” No. “Singer?” No. “Athlete?” Nope. Since “Unwed Mother” didn't really fly, they settled for “Teen Activist.” How completely and insultingly specious.

I'm sorry that Bristol had to deal with so much hate. She didn't deserve it. Nobody does. Death threats? White powder in envelopes? Some loon blasting his TV with a shotgun? Bodyguards, armed security details. She didn't need to endure all that – because she didn't need to be there to begin with.

You'd think the producers would have had enough after the Kate Gosselin debacle, but, no! “Let's go grab a bigger lightning rod! One with strongly polarized political connections. So she moves like a board with legs and exhibits the emotional depth of a wooden Indian. Who cares? She may not be a star, but her momma is, and that's close enough. Yeah, we know – Dancing With the Stars. We'll figure something out. Just think of the numbers!!”

Oh, I heard the “most improved dancer” mantra that everybody from the producers to Palin herself (both of them) tried to ram down our throats. But you know what? In a competition, the prize goes to the best, not the “most improved.” Hey, compared to last year, the Atlanta Braves were the most improved team in baseball. Did it get them to the World Series? I have a great idea. With the Olympics coming to London in 2012, why don't we just do away with all those silly medals and championships and just give prizes out to the people who try really hard and show improvement? Don't you think real people would relate more to them because they're more like us?

Sheeesh! I don't think I can swallow that pill, Maude. Better find me a suppository.

No, Momma Grizzly's lunatic supporters are the very people responsible for Bristol's pain, suffering, and ultimate humiliation. They have a lot to be proud of. If the tea bags hadn't tried to use a bit of harmless entertainment fluff as a proving grounds for their presidential aspirations, a talentless, clueless young woman would have been eliminated in the first round or two and the brouhaha would never had brewed.

Other than the fact that she bought into her own ludicrous PR, Bristol Palin has nothing to be ashamed of. She came, she tried, she failed. The shame is on the political manipulators who did their best to stack the deck. And the shame is on the network producers who dealt the hand in the first place, knowing full well what would transpire.

If ABC can't find legitimate stars willing to participate in DWTS, maybe it's time to fold the tent and move on. Their next exercise in stupidity may not turn out so benignly. Maybe the powder will be real next time or the doofus with the gun won't stop at blasting his TV. Entertainment, by definition, does not include provoking people to issue death threats and organize boycotts.

I'll add my two cents to the collection of those who think that an overhaul of the voting system is in order. But I think the bigger problem is with the star selection process.

I hope ABC finds a solution to its problem before next season.

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