mandi judge

3

First episode of Bake Off and the contestants have already learned to use booze to appease Mary Berry

Let’s Talk About It- Race and Colorism on DWTS Part 1

I told you all I was going to write this and here we are. I feel like this has been a long time coming and it is absolutely necessary to address.  Race (and colorism) is a topic that a lot of fans overlook.  Especially in regards to Black people. The antiblackness runs rampant on this show in many different ways.  This will be a 3 or 4 part series. In this first part, I will talk about Simone Biles and her treatment.  So let us just go ahead and get into this discussion.

We all know Simone Biles and all of her accomplishments. She’s the most decorated gymnast ever and is probably the best gymnast ever. She won four gold medals at this most recent Olympic Games and also received a bronze (which was one of the most shocking moments of the Rio Games).  She had pretty much become America’s sweetheart. She was universally loved because of how well she represented the US and how good of an athlete she is. She also has a very fun and giggly personality. So really, she came into this show as the biggest name and one of the most accomplished people. So honestly, all of that needs respect. And even without that, she deserves respect. She’s a human being.

There weren’t too many instances in the first few weeks of the competition that were directly affected by her race and gender.  In fact, it seemed like a lot of the problems came from her being a gymnast and the fact that they didn’t want two gymnasts winning back to back seasons. I started to see the fact that she is a Black woman really come in and affect things during week 7. This was when Mandy was a guest judge. She told Simone that she doesn’t connect and hides behind a smile.  I thought that was a weird critique, especially for a Charleston. But all season, the judges had been getting on her for smiling too much. It apparently wasn’t real or genuine. Even though that’s the person that she is, right? So it is the real Simone. But they allowed Laurie to smile all of season 23 and they loved it. Seems like a bit of a double standard. Laurie can be happy and giggly but Simone can’t.  The same thing they loved the most about Laurie was the thing that Simone needed to change the most. Why is that? Well, I can’t answer for sure, and I know a Black woman could answer this part better than I can as a Black man. But one thing to notice about this is the difference in skin color. Simone is a dark skinned Black woman. That definitely played a part in the judges’ reaction to her smiling and being positive. It was almost like she didn’t deserve happiness. She didn’t deserve to have that feeling.

Now the very next week was Smilegate. This was when Simone did a pretty much perfect foxtrot and was met with backlash because she smiled. It wasn’t a critique at this point. It seemed like the judges, namely CAI and Julianne, were irritated with her because she was smiling. This was during a foxtrot that really had no emotional depth to it. It was just a fun and lighthearted dance. So why does she need to not smile during a standard foxtrot? Why can’t she just be who she is? Why is that a problem for her and no one else? So she changed it for her paso, obviously. She came back out with a pretty good dance, and the judges decided to beat her over the head with the fact that she wasn’t smiling enough as well as some other asinine comments about her dancing too much on beat. This was during a paso that is supposed to be a more serious dance. After being beaten and berated for your personality week after week and never doing anything good enough for the judges, you’re going to be pretty upset. Her reaction to these comments was normal. She was frustrated because no matter what she did, it was never good enough. She was kind of in this place where she was damned if she did and damned if she didn’t. Of course she’s upset and Tom goes to ask her why she’s not smiling at the urging of one of the producers. This was a pretty sexist move on his part that he later apologized for. That moment when the “Smiling doesn’t win gold medals,” comment was said.  In that moment, I knew that that is what they were aiming for. They needed Simone far enough down the leaderboard and to for her to have “an outburst” where she “lost her cool”. None of this is true, but if you had gone on social media that night, you would have seen a lot of white people calling her mean, ungrateful, rude and other things. We know that that really wasn’t the case. But she became the angry Black woman in that moment.  And it was what the show wanted to momentarily suppress her votes. Now whoever was working behind the scenes on that show is smart. They obviously have their degree in sociology and know how race relations work in this country. They knew that baiting Simone to get her to react in a way that would be seen as aggressive to the main demo, would be exactly what they needed to keep her out of the finals.  Like I said that week, the main demo hates when a woman, especially a dark skinned Black woman, shows displeasure of any kind. Conservative leaning, middle aged white woman are not going to like that. Because to them (and many other people in this country) that is threatening and scary.

Now you may be thinking that Normani didn’t get this treatment, so this can’t be a race problem. And the answer to that is that it is a race problem. Just because Normani wasn’t affected, doesn’t invalidate what we saw happen to Simone. It happens all of the time where one Black person isn’t targeted while other Black people are (Rashad was targeted too, though not in the same way and not as deliberately). Simone was just who they focused on and really made sure to stomp all over. It doesn’t mean that Normani could have never been affected by it. I 100% believe that Normani would have gotten a lot of treatment that many other Black women on this show have gotten, had she not been partnered with Val.

So that’s it for part 1 of this 4 part series. Part 2 will be up by Wednesday of next week. In that part, I will talk about the lack of Black pro dancers on the show for the first 18 seasons.

I’ve had Netflix for a week now, and literally all I’ve watched is Season 1 of Gilmore Girls and Seasons 3 and 4 of Supernatural. So basically, at this moment, all Netflix knows about me is that I really like Jared Padalecki. 

4

Some dodgy pics from the wonderful Stage It event with Jason Manns, Misha, Matt, Rob and special guests Julie McNiven and Mandy Musgrave. Micahel Rosenbaum judged the costume competition! 

There was singing, dancing, Stonehenge Apocalypse and Matt stripping.

It was heaps of fun and over $50,000 was raised for Random Acts which is just incredible! Thing I love most about it was hanging out with everyone via cyberspace, and again is how these guys have become such great friends. and creative collaborators, because of fandom and Supernatural.