Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What Is This Thing?

'Dancing With Stars' actually gives me some fodder for feminist writing! Isn't that great?

Not sure, because I have never watched the program, but I did read this interesting take on the way the largely female audience votes affects who wins:

Kristi Yamaguchi is clearly the most talented contestant on "Dancing With the Stars." But the question still looms heading into Tuesday's finale: Can a woman win the celebrity dance-off?

Men have won the mirrorball trophy during the show's past four seasons. The only woman to take the "Dancing" crown was Kelly Monaco in season one. With a viewership that's 75 percent women, plus brazen displays of bare skin and sex appeal from current male finalists Jason Taylor and Cristian de la Fuente, the hit ABC show still has plenty of suspense for the final episode.

And it drew plenty of viewers to Monday's broadcast -- 18.8 million, according to preliminary Nielsen figures. It was the most-watched program of the night by far, with the largest audience for a Monday edition of "Dancing" in six weeks.

"You obviously have to get the technique, but (also) compete with the personalities that all the boys have," Yamaguchi told The Associated Press after Monday's performances. "I think their smiles and their personalities melt hearts across the country."

Figure-skating champ Yamaguchi got a perfect score of 60 on Monday's show, and has regularly topped the judges' scoreboard throughout the sixth season of the ABC dance-off. But viewer votes count just as much, and the combination is what determines the winner.

So what's going on here? Is it that women just won't vote for women? Or is it that the female partners of the male celebrities are so good that they cause those pairs to win? Or could it be, could it just be, that the women vote the sexy guys in so that they can keep ogling them longer?

It sounds like that last alternative, based on the quoted article. If that's true, all sorts of avenues open up for feminist walks. For instance, we could amble down the Attraction Avenue, wondering whether women might, after all, get turned on by visual images of hot guys, even though we have repeatedly been told that They Do Not.

Then there's the Sex Object Street. Do women walk along that one as easily as men do, picking and choosing among the luscious bodies on show? And the Lofty Lane: Do we really want to see gender equality in that?

All this might be a dead end, of course, if the real reason for the biased voting is something else. (Hee.)