If I were the memo-writing type, and if anyone (who hadn’t actually given birth to me) really listened to what I said (not altogether true: sometimes my siblings hear me out at Christmas – but rarely for long) I would send the following email to the producers of Dancing With The Stars:
Dear Sir or Madam,
Congratulations. While I realize it’s tough to keep a big TV show going season after hit season, and even though there are those who think it unwise to utilize “stars” who became so seemingly overnight, please know that thus far your efforts have not been in vain. In fact, judging from some of the early press– particularly given the fact that your season does not commence for another seventeen days – you have already something quite special on your hands. In fact, if your goal was to generate curiosity within the press, and to create a situation where a great many viewers will most assuredly tune in on September 20th – if only out of a morbid fascination with your bizarre casting selections – I say, keep up the good work. Mission accomplished.”
That’s what I would say. Because to every person I know who says: “That show’s ridiculous. And admittedly, it was cool for a nanosecond with some of the early contestants. But this – this collection of has-beens, talent-free talent, and crazed attention freaks is too much. I refuse to watch”, I respond: Okay. Perhaps you’re right. And perhaps everyone will ignore DWTS because of this season’s casting choices. Only, I really don’t think this will happen at all. As in, have you seen the recent headlines from very reputable media outlets? They are as follows:
1) Situation: I’m the DWTS Underdog
2) Did Dancing With the Stars Cast Too Many Reality Types?
3) Bristol Palin: ‘DWTS’ will show my work ethic
Every single one of those headlines came across my news feed today, and they each hail from ultra-legit news outlets who certainly had plenty of other topics upon which to devote ink – if they thought they had a dud on their hands — but for some reason they didn’t. And why is this? Because the DWTS people took a risk and ran with it. They looked at the gaping maw that is Season Eleven and realized but quick that despite a few good — and maybe even distance-going — hoofers, they had a vaguely troubling situation on their hands (and they hadn’t even hired him). Ask any newspaper person around (they’re easy to spot right now because a great many of them are currently unemployed) about the fastest way to get attention and they’ll tell you the famous old adage that “if it bleeds it reads.” Now that axiom was originally in reference to bad news, but in today’s world it’s also come to mean outlandish things to do with celebrity. And what bleeds most? People who prompt shoe-throwing at a TV screen.The dumber/louder/ruder/ raunchier/eyecatching-er the better. Which of course is what we have in spades with reality shows – because with them we are now officially citizens of the Lowest Common Denomi-Nation. Plus, check the headlines above– see any buzzwords that generally appeal to most of us/ spark our curiosity? Like “underdog” and “work ethic”? Who doesn’t want to follow that? With those terms they’ve managed to tap into our core – everyone loves an underdog, and if you have a good work ethic you’re bound to triumph in the end, right? It’s kind of genius what they’ve done, because we have here a collection of some of the oddest (for lack of a better term) “attractions” on TV today – only now we’re being asked to view them within the context of the American Dream – and suddenly we’re fascinated by whether or not one of them’s an underdog or if the other one’s got any sort of work ethic. Frankly, I never cared for this show but the more attention I pay to it, the more I think that they’ve tapped into our consciousness in a really smart way. So let’s sit tight, because I predict major viewership of this show. Don’t believe that we’re all part of the Lowest Common Denomi-Nation? Think the show will be a dud right outta the gate? Let’s see what happens. Give it a few weeks. By the second week of October, if there are no viewers then, feel free to write me a memo.
1) Margaret Cho
2) Rick Fox
3) Jennifer Grey
4) Kyle Massey