Tuesday, March 6, 2007

What's New Pussycat? (I couldn't resist)

Don't cha wish...

Before I watched the premiere of The Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the New Doll , Stu had read The New York Times’ damning review of the show. While he didn't watch, he was curious enough to inquire, "So how was it?”
“Well, it’s a horrible show…” I replied, unable to finish my sentence, afraid to acknowledge the inevitable.
“But you're gonna keep watching it... because you love 'the dance.'”
“ I do. I love 'the dance.'”

Oh, I do love the dance. I love all dancing. Actually, I’m not so keen on Riverdance, but hell, I’ll watch Michael Flatley, Lord o’ the Riverdance for a little while just to marvel at the fancy footwork.

My mother plunked me in my first ballet class when I was four, followed by years of the requisite tap, jazz, modern, even theater dance, and eventually hip-hop. Perhaps, if it weren’t for my short, round, polish-shtetl DNA, I coulda been a contender. Alas, however, as I always knew it would, the professional dance world turns without me and my dancing life is one of random classes at various studios and gyms. But like the girls who lined up to audition to become the next Pussycat Doll, the passion still burns within and god help anyone who’s watching TV with me when the channel surfing glides by anything having anything to do with dancing. Eyes transfixed, remote immobile, I will watch every last pirouette.

So as the hopeful Dolls lined up across the stage like some new-millennium, sexed-up cast of A Chorus Line, waiting for their names to be called, I was sunk. I fold. I’m going to watch every last minute of this horrible show.

Despite my Barnard degree, which surely will be revoked once word gets out that I’m a proponent of the mere existence of a search for another Pussycat Doll (Do the Pussycat Dolls actually need another member? Are they like some Logan’s Run Menudo with an ever evolving line-up, members discarded as soon as they reach a certain age and are potentially no longer worthy of loosening up their buttons?), it’s not the conflict between inherent sexism and claims of female empowerment that make this show horrible. From Simone de Beauvoir to Madonna we’ve been debating the definition of feminism and the manifestation of feminine strength for an eternity. I frankly don’t care if you’re Melissa Etheridge in a tux or a Pussycat Doll in panties, be whatever the hell kind of woman you’d like (I’m so getting kicked out of the Seven Sisters club for that.). For me, the show’s hideousness has nothing to do with the objectification of women or the strength of female sexuality.

It has to do with the machinations of the production. Of course, we’re not reality programming novices here. We know what to expect; we understand that producers and editors and even script writers (usually dubbed “story editors” in the world of reality TV) will be twirling knobs, pushing buttons, and cranking levers behind a big curtain in the hopes of conning us into believing that the wizardry of reality show contestants is actually real. But expectations and comprehensions aside, a little subtlety would go a long way. By comparison, The Search for the New Doll makes America’s Next Top Model look like an Oscar-winning documentary, capturing the gritty underbelly of fashion modeling with the utmost of candor and sincerity.

One would think the casting call for the Doll search might have read: “Wanted: dancers and singers for an all female pop group.” But I'm quite certain it must have gone something like this: “Wanted: adversity over-comers (singing and dancing a plus)!” I know Tyra is a sucker for a good Triumph of the Human Spirit story, but the roll call for last night’s contestants was an emptied box of Puffs Plus with Lotion just waiting to happen:

Teen Mother? Here!
Lost parents and sibling in a plane crash? Here!
Fat kid reinvented? Here!
Lived in a car? Here!
Doctor parents disapprove of daughter dancing in lingerie? Here!

And that only pussycat-claw scratches at the surface. It’s not even worth going into the rest, although I must point out that the girl who lived in a car, in an all out attempt to prove wrong everyone that had ever thought her untalented and unworthy, hubris-nemesised herself right into miserable failure, as did the girl who passed on a virus, thereby starting an all-out vomit fest (Talk about gritty underbelly—I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much puke in one hour of television programming.). She wanted the judges to take her illness (but hopefully not the poor health of the other ten girls she infected) into consideration during her final performance. But of course, it was announced that the show must go on, all illnesses, vomiting, muscle aches, and fever aside. Tyra actually made a similar announcement last week, but she didn’t take it so far as to have stage-side medics with IV’s and makeshift beds. I’m not sure I’ll ever forget the sight of wanna be Pussycat Dolls shivering under plaid wool, needles in their arms, stilettos and half-shirts at the ready for the big audition. Triumph of the Human Spirit indeed!

But all of that aside, there are actually some talented girls on the show. Some can dance and some can sing and I’m going to watch them parade around in hot pants and high-heeled boots every week, so help me god. So far, the front runners seem to be: Anastasia, the Amazonian beauty; Sisely, the punk rocker who likes to get a full night’s sleep (amen, sister!); Jamie, the kicky blonde chick (pictured above); Melissa R. who seems to possess every attribute one could possibly want in a potential Pussycat Doll; and some ballet dancer who has a gorgeous extension whose name I can’t remember for the life of me (FYI--the CWTV site SUCKS and I can’t get to the cast list).

Starting next week, the judges (Lil' Kim--aw yeah!) will be eliminating girls one big ass pink boa at a time. Rest assured, I will be deliberating, doll by pussycat doll, right along with them. You know, for the love of the dance.

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