For those who truly care about dancing — not personality, popularity, nationality, etc. — our mantra today should be “It just doesn’t matter.” That’s right, the glitzy, silly mirror ball trophy for winning Dancing With the Stars just doesn’t matter. I mean, it’s not like the winner gets a Survivor-ish cool mill, or even a Biggest Loser-ish quarter mill, but rather the trophy and quite often the knowledge, in their heart of hearts, that they made it over the top due to (1) undiscerning voters who are clueless about true dancing artistry and (2) a rigged, fixed, phony process set up by collusion, not honesty, among judges.
That, of course, is the only way to accept last night’s absurd verdict giving pint-sized, teen-aged, ‘way too wet behind the ears, utterly lacking a dancer’s body and totally out of her depth Shawn Johnson the mirror ball trophy over not only the most worthy winner among them all, Gilles Marini, but even third place finisher Melissa Rycroft — not to mention Lil Kim.
The tally, we were told, separated the top two by less than one per cent. And that tally, despite the “suspense” of one more dance Tuesday, was set in stone as of Monday night, given the fact that viewer votes already were in as of Monday, and the fact that the judges generously gave Shawn perfect 10s to match Gilles’ Tuesday, ensuring that nothing changed between nights. The show’s producers were well aware that Shawn wouldn’t win unless the judges inflated her scores, so they did. In a close viewer vote, that doomed Gilles to runnerup status despite AN ENTIRE SEASON OF EXCELLENCE. All it would have taken to reward his artistry would have been another well deserved point or two separating him from Shawn via judges’ scores, but the show, the producers, the judges, and the fix had to have Shawn as the winner, for whatever reason, and Gilles had to lose — make that “lose.”
Was it lack of a fan base? Perhaps. Anti-French sentiment? That would be pathetic; it’s one of the greatest countries in the world, and Gilles was a ceaselessly humble gentleman. Gotta give it go the kid so she won’t cry? Maybe. I dunno. But whatever the basis for the fix, it reeked. Then again — all together with me now — “It just doesn’t matter.”
Of course, DWTS has had plenty of such stumbles, starting with its first season, when Kelly Monaco was declared the winner by still more judging arbitrariness despite strong sentiment and suspicion that her vote, too, was pre-ordained — so much so that she and the runnerup, John O’Hurley, had a “dance off” down the line to satisfy the disgruntled. So this was just one more reeking rig job to join a long list.
The public vote I can’t fault. People often vote their hearts, not their heads, and if they wanted to disregard Gilles’ consistent artistry (and such bearing on the floor — such a presence) in favor of a kid with a win-or-die mindset of entitlement which won’t serve her well in the real world, post-Olympics and rigged dance shows, then so be it. The public’s not required to vote based on any one thing. But the judges should be, and that one thing is called dancing artistry. So it’s the judges’ juggling of scores to fix the final results that distresses me, as it so often has on DWTS. But again, it just doesn’t matter.
That being the case, I’m done for another season — but I’ll be back next fall. Regardless of the winner (and remember, it just doesn’t matter), DWTS is good, frothy entertainment for a Monday night, Tom Bergeron is perhaps the best TV host ever and I enjoy seeing desperate has-beens and never-weres trying to prop up their careers via rumbas and waltzes. The fact that so little really is at stake makes it a low-pressure contest, and for sheer spectacle, it’s good TV, pure and simple, even if the inner-workings taint it at times.
So Shawn, go ahead — go enjoy your trophy and put it next to your Olympic gold. But believe me, plenty of people who genuinely appreciate dance know who truly earned it.