For Realz?: So You Think You Can Apologize

samesexdance.jpgI'm late on this one (I blame Memorial Day weekend!), but hey, Judge Nigel Lythgoe issued a sincere-sounding apology for his comments and the editing of a same-sex dance tryout on the season premiere of his hit show So You Think You Can Dance last Tuesday that came off fairly homophobically on the air (video clip at the link).

So what happened? Well, male-male dance team Misha and Mitch perform the salsa samba, which is fine. However, the folks who edit SYTYCD thought it would be a hoot to film their interview with "It's Raining Men" playing in the background and meaningful zoom-ins to the MEN sign of the men's bathroom. Not good! Nonetheless, Misha and Mitch give what looks to me like a pretty decent audition, where they switch off the partner leading to demonstrate both their skills at leading and following. And then..... uh oh.

Sure enough, head judge Nigel fires off "I think you'd probably alienate a lot of our audience," accompanied by a litany of: I've never seen this before, this reminds me of Will Ferrell in Blades of Glory, and I think men should act like men and women should act like women. (Note: neither male danced effeminately at all.) Then screamy judge Mary (who specializes in the salsa!) was like, "I was so confused I couldn't even watch your dancing because OMG, you're both men!!! Who's the woman here and who's the man??? Shriek!!!!"

Okay, first of all, who has not heard of same sex dancing in 2009? And second of all, how does that not sound homophobic even as it's coming out of your mouth? A firestorm erupted, to which Lythgoe first went with the standard "I'm sorry if anyone was offended" line. Then, there's a truly disastrous series of Twitter posts where Nigel says "I'm not a fan of Brokeback Ballroom," then "[I'm not homophobic,] I just hate effeminate dancing. Wake up and listen!!" and then "I wholeheartedly apologize for the Brokeback Ballroom tweet... I have upset a number of dear friends." OMG! Some of his best friends are gay!!

Shortly after that, Nigel sent an apology to GLAAD. Well, good -- but really? Are we still debating whether gay male means effeminate? Or who's the woman and who's the man? Can't they both just be men? In case you were wondering. Misha and Mitch were actually pretty decent and made it to the next round (Nigel emphasizes that they'll dance with women if they make it on the show -- oh good, because I was worried.) before later getting eliminated -- and it turns out Mitch is actually straight. Not that it really matters.

Comments

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I'm glad that there's been a

I'm glad that there's been a serious uproar about this. I'm actually a big fan of the show and watched it all last summer with my roomie. I was so furious after last Thursday's episode. He went from being extremely compassionate and tactful when a very courageous female with a spinal disability decided to audition to a tactless homophobe during Mitch and Misha's audition. Despite the apology, there's no denying that Mary and Nigel's reactions were horrifying!

No! They DIDN'T make it to

No! They DIDN'T make it to the next round. They went to choreography and then got cut and didn't proceed to the next round. I watched it, and even my 7 year old was like "well that was kind of mean." It really was awful the way the judges responded.

I'm actually a big fan of

I'm actually a big fan of the show, and I was shocked at the way the judges reacted. I hadn't heard of same sex dancing, but I thought it was really cool. I think it doesn't take much to confuse/freak out Mary, and when she saw two guys and couldn't automatically identify who was leading she...well, she did what Mary does: she screamed really loudly. The guy's explanation of what they were doing and that they both took turns following and leading was ignored (as was the fact that one of the dancers is actually a straight male...). It just makes me so sad that it's 2009, and reality TV shows (ok, ok, this one is aired on the FOX channel...but still!) still harp on the apparently rampant homophobia that grips the nation. Depressing.

Technical note: they were

Technical note: they were dancing samba not salsa (though the music for the two is similar).

Having watched the video and been involved in the ballroom scene for several years these are my thoughts about it. Whilst not dancing what would be considered "effeminately" outside the ballroom world, when each of them was dancing the follow ('female') part they were dancing (very well) according to a traditional Latin follow style. This is more of how women are traditionally considered to dance. So from that point of view I can sort of understand the comment of them dancing effeminately.

On the other hand I think that the comments were homophobic and inexcusable, and I have long found it irritating that same gendered partners cannot dance together, particularly competitively, and have desired to have done so in the past. I don't see why the two partners shouldn't both be able to dance masculinely and femininely. I always really enjoy and appreciate it from a technical point of view when the two dancers, irrespective of their genders, change the lead and follow part way through!

The fact that the sexuality was conflated with dance style, gender, and leading issues was just plain homophobia and has no place in dancing.

While the entire thing made

While the entire thing made me cringe and want to throw things, I think the part that gets me the most is the "Well, Mitch isn't 'out' yet" comment by the host at the end of the audition. WTF. Because *clearly* he can't *actually* be straight. Ugh.

I also really don't like the conflation of leading and following with "male" and "female" and "masculine" and "effeminate" - I mean, I totally understand that 99% of the time (or 100% of the time until now for the judges, apparently), that's what you see. But the outright REFUSAL to move past that and just go "oh, okay, leading = man, following = man too" really pissed me off.

yikes! Thanks everyone for

yikes! Thanks everyone for catching all my errors! I have to confess I was so irritated by the whole incident I turned off the TV right after Nigel said "I'd like to see you both dancing -- WITH A WOMAN," so I missed the sad conclusion that they later got eliminated. And samba/salsa, I have no excuse (besides that I get them mixed up in the crossword puzzle too). Will correct!

We were discussing the same

We were discussing the same sex issue in this show with a friend of mine and he told me that these guys have to show how they dance with girls first and that the judges were too gracious with them.
To be honest, I enjoyed Nigel being like “Yes! I really screwed this up last time...” Granted, the pair this year was really MUCH stronger than the two last year, and it's really interesting to watch how gay couples express that side of themselves through their dance, don't you think so?