Sunday, November 21, 2010

In Defense of Bristol Palin

I hate politics... mostly for what it does to normally sane people. But I've been especially offended by all the comments and rants over Bristol Palin's continued good misfortunes on Dancing With The Stars.

I will openly admit, I'm more than a bit biased as I write this. NO, I'm not a Tea Partier and I'm not a left winger either. My bias comes from childhood - from being the only "normal" sized girl in a dance class. I was a little girl who could strike amazing lines (very important in dance), albeit, not skinny lines.

I loved being on the stage. I danced solos in front of large audiences. My dance career came to crashing halt when my mom took me out of the Dotsy Barron School of Dance after I refused to dance one more time for company in our living room. (My mother will tell you it was because I was left unattended when class was canceled but this is MY story.) It is one thing to be on a stage with bright lights in your face, completely unaware of the audience until all is said and done versus, being in your living room, very aware of the uncomfortable stares on the faces of your parents' friends!

I didn't dance again until I was in my last semester in college. Taking two projects classes that required about 60 hours a week, I found myself missing an elective to graduate. The only one that fit my crazy life was a Broadway style dance class - full of Dixie Darling's no less!  Talk about pressure - take a dance class with a dance squad! But I was busy with film projects and marketing projects and decided to view the class as a twice weekly steam release. I went; I danced; I left. It wasn't until one of the Darlings came up to me at the end of the semester and said, "Wow, you can really dance!" did I realize that I was again being judged for being a "normal" sized girl who dared to dance into a skinny girl's domain.

Just know... that's where my Bristol bias comes from. That and I love rooting for the underdog.

I should also disclose that I'm a somewhat long time fan of the show. I hate reality t.v. on many levels and in the beginning referred to DWTS as Dancing with the Vaguely Familiar. But for some reason, I got hooked on season four and never miss it now. I love the pro dancers so much - they are such talented people and having to put up with famous people is not easy. And having to put up with people who once were famous is even worse!

I expected little from Ms. Palin but when she hit her lines with such ease in show one... I thought she had a future. I felt it was confidence she lacked. I saw a normal girl in a skinny celebrity world and she won my heart.

Now, I admit, she has not progressed as fast as many others have. But Bristol has come so far. She still lacks confidence and acting ability. But she shows UP. She doesn't phone it in. She doesn't look into the camera and beg for votes. She doesn't appear to be a Diva. She's real. And I like REAL.

The girl has spunk. When she learned she got the job on DWTS, she put her baby in the truck and drove to L.A. from Alaska. I once considered driving my Jeep to Louisiana with a rottweiler and chickened - out.

And speaking of Bristol's son, Tripp: She has spoken of how hard it is to be working seven days a week and having to send him home to Alaska with relatives. As have the other parents on the show. Without fail, every season, the celebs who have kids always talk of the impact of the show on their families... except for one. Brandy.

And again, I'm biased here. I have friends who have worked with Brandy. D.I.V.A. Nothing I care to repeat here but I will share a story told to my by the former principal of Hollywood High. That school has so many celebrity alumni that come back and visit. Once Brandy had returned and came into the principal's office, which was covered with autographed photos from floor to ceiling. Brandy asked where her picture was. The principal pointed it out - up near the ceiling. Brandy asked why it wasn't at eye level where it could be seen. My friend told her, when you graduate from high school, I'll move it! (I think this says a lot about BOTH women!)

For all the outrage blasted over the "news" media this week, when I've met someone and hear them complain, I always ask, "Did you vote?" Surprisingly, the answer is NO! I can understand complaints about her dancing but the worst is the issues that Bristol has NO control over.
  • They show her mom on every episode - as they do every celebrity's  family. Just because viewers don't realize that's Kurt Warner's wife or Jennifer Grey's husband and they do recognize Sarah Palin doesn't mean the producer's are treating Bristol differently. When Momma grizzly didn't come, they showed Bristol's aunt. After every dance, the first audience shot is almost always someone connected to the celeb.
  • The Tea Party is stacking the vote - but if you listen to the producers of the show, Bristol and partner Mark Ballas only needed 1.5% more votes than Brandy to stay in the competition. I hardly call 1.5% a stacked vote.That's less than a margin of error in most elections!
  • The ABC website allows you to vote with multiple, unconfirmed email addresses - This may be true but again, the producers have publicly stated IP addresses are being checked...there's no way to fake that!
  • People are calling from multiple phone numbers - True... but it is allowed for an allotted number of votes. Back when Apolo Anton Ohno won and I had four phone lines for the house and the shop plus a cell phone, I would race around calling from all of them.
I just wish people would give her a break. Life is hard enough for Joe Schmo. I can't imagine how hard life would be as the unwed teen mom /daughter of Sarah Palin. Which brings up the one reason I'm thrilled Bristol has made it this far... MONEY! Base salary for the celebs starts around 125K with bonuses for each week they stay on ranging from 10K per week to 50K for the final show. The winner will make around 350K for the whole run with the two runners up making 50 - 100K less. How much life could 250K buy YOU??? I love that this girl can get an education or save for her young son's future or just stay home and be a mom if she chooses. I wish every single mother in this country were so lucky!

I promise, unless some miracle happens, Bristol won't be the best dancer Monday night. But she will have the most heart.  Just like in previous seasons, the voters will decide the final winner. And just like my mother taught me about my duty to show up and vote in a real election, "If you don't vote, you give up your right to complain."


Snowbrush said...

Well, I've actually never seen the show, so can't really comment, but I was interested in what you had to say.

Anonymous said...

Like Snowbrush, I don't watch the show, but I like what you said. Give the poor girl a break, she's braver than a lot of people out there, risking making a fool of herself in order to make some money for herself and her son. Would people rather she stay in Alaska and collect welfare and WIC?

rottrover said...

OK, I'm setting the tivo...I KNEW you could write about anything you feel passionate about!!

Levi Mac said...

Very interesting...I don't watch the show but find as a "normal" sized girl dancing over the years I had the same experiences. Nice to read your thoughts.

Snowbrush said...

I heard on NPR yesterday that conservatives like competition TV shows whereas liberals favor the ones that follow people around. I don't know where I fit since I only watch PBS.

Becky said...

I totally agree with you. I so tired of all the stars that have been on and won that had a lot of dance in their background.

It's refreshing to see a non-dancer and how she had progressed.

Anonymous said...

well, I see in the news that Jennifer Grey won. I think that they really should have people on the show who aren't dancers, and Jennifer Grey might not be a "dancer" but she's had some training for Dirty Dancing.

I might watch such a show if they had ordinary people learning to dance, but I guess viewers want to watch celebrities.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Yeah, I'm one of those... I hate the "real" people reality shows... If I wanted to be bored, why watch tv?

Jennifer was the best dancer but she stood there looking like she expected it... UGH! Now, I'm wondering where else she will turn up.

rottrover said...

Bristol ROCKED that cha-cha though!