Is it just us bitches, or was the premiere of SupermegablowyourassholeinsideoutStars of Dance!!! kinda…..eh.
For all the pomp and hype, it just felt underwhelming. And lame…with the aid of key elements like the tacky”ethnic” techno remixes, sounding like they’d be played at 2am in a low-rent Gold’s Gym. And the corny voiceovers to get that patriotic suspense pumping, like the countries “battling for survival!” – “Cultures clash!” – “which nation will win it all?!!”, – “Eat it and weep, Third World! U.S.A. U.S.A!” Ok, made that last one up. But it did promise to be “the greatest spectacle of dance performance on the planet!”
What WAS a damned spectacle was the judging. When I first saw the Chinese judge, my eyeballs just about fell out they sockets from rolling so hard. I mean, C’mon! – with the prayer hand whispered blessing and the bow and the frickin temple getup and Buddha beads- it was like he was one big fat ethnic caricature…a noble Chinaman…but not too lofty to make a sage appearance on Michael Flatley’s Oiled Up Chest Presents SuperclusterfuckeryStars of Dance!!! Are monks even supposed to go on TV game shows? Who is this guy?A painstaking google search revealed him to be: “Master Haiyang Wang, the natural successor to become the next Abbott of the Shaolin Temple and a senior Buddhist in China”. I bet he’s an extra they snagged from the set of (insert cheezy chopsocky show here).
After every dance, the eight international judges gave a 1-10 score, minus the judge from the performing country. However, every judge does get to say a few words about his or her “native” country’s performance.
Except for the Chinese judge. Even the Russian with his baboushka doll vest or the sneezy yet faboo artist-formerly-known as SAfa judge gets to say something, but all China says is BAAA! Eight! Ok, maybe this guy really is a fobby authentic! monk! from actual! China! and cannae ken a lick o’ English, but this dude’s presence doesn’t do a whole lot to challenge stereotypes.
The Indian judge has the same ridiculous stereotypical bow as the Chinese one, and does say the score in Hindi, but dude sounds like he’s from Kansas or something. Although it did take us about half an hour to figure out that he wasn’t being bitchy, but that NAU! just means nine.
Also found through an intensive netsearch: “the Shaolin Monks Kung Fu group will be coached by Matthew Ahmet, who went to China and found his way by becoming a Shaolin Monk.” Um, this guy is 20. And white. And speaks Mandarin. Red Flags! He started training with them when he was 17, so three years must make him qualified to surpass and teach the Chinese people The Way. Also, fans write poems about him and his incredible “Qi”. Douchey poems.
And don’t get us started on the actual dancing. That squirmy slow-ass popper was irritating (did he really end with the *ha-wink* and point move?) . Although the follow-up commentary from that old white lady coach was hilarious (“It’s contorted popping! It’s sick and it’s coming from this man and it rocked my world!”). Ooh, and that Australian tap dancer. They must’ve been ushered in under the “white people appropriating black culture” category.
Is it trivializing martial arts to consider it “dancing”? And sure it’s entertaining, but there’s something ironic about Indian American dancers doing a Bollywood dance if they all live in Hollywood and have Valley accents (gotta admit those sassy ladies did look smokin’). But we thought this was supposed to be the Olympics of dance, with folks actually being nationals of their respective countries. We got no problem with hyphenated Americans doing dances from their muthalands, but at least apply the rules consistently! Maybe the lack of clarity here is really some high concept statement that the show is making about identity politics, globalization, transnational migration, and the increased blurring of national borders . But expressed through DANCE and a battle to the DEATH!!!
If we had to pick, compared to the competition, that North Indian Classical dancer kilt it. And of course the spear-surfing monks…especially those little baby Shaoliners…let’s abduct one. Third World Power! SHIIIII!