|This little girl has just been hit with tear gas
by her government, in her home, in Bahrain.
One of the most interesting things about people, at least from my perspective, it what they find to be outrageous. The definition of outrage has to do with violating one’s sense of decency. Decency is essentially defined by one’s cultural and religious beliefs or lack thereof. Outrage flies in the face of what we hold to be true and right. In American culture, we hold our freedoms and liberties near and dear to our hearts. Recently, there was a lot of outrage in the Internet community over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). People who really didn’t even understand the intent of the act were outraged because they their Internet activities might be regulated by the government. We love our Internet freedom. The mere thought of the government messing with that right is outrageous! Meanwhile, halfway around the world in countries like Bahrain and Syria, thousands of people are being murdered by their own governments. Our government is selling weapons to the government of Bahrain and turning a blind eye. We’re not outraged about that, mostly because it is not covered in the US media.
Nope, we have more important things to be outraged about. Like Dance Moms on Lifetime .
|This little boy is about to try to knock a ball off a stick.
He can have all the tries he wants. It’s America.
We’ve become a nation whose kids play T-Ball. T-ball is sort of like baseball only there is no pitcher, no keeping score, no outs, it’s just, well, it’s just an opportunity to wear fancy uniforms, expensive cleats, and a batting helmet. Nevermind the fact that there is no pitcher, so kids don’t need a batting helmet, because, well, we can’t be too safe when it comes to our kids. Kids can’t play tag, dodgeball or climb monkeybars at schools anymore because they might get hurt. So basically, T-Ball is what concerned parents do to get their kids out from under video games and off their i-phones for an hour or so on the weekends. The shoes and the gear is how they get them there. Which is why Dance Moms scares the holy bejeezus of American parents. So if you are reading along, wondering where the snarky reality TV stuff is, I promise to deliver, right after the jump.
|The critical eye of Abby Lee watching a performance.|
Abby Lee Miller is a dance coach in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She was introduced to America last year by the Lifetime Network on a reality show called Dance Moms. The show centers on a group of young dancers aged 7 to 13 who attend professional dance classes and (here is the oh so terrible part…) COMPETE in COMPETITIONS! The horror! I know. I know. Everybody knows that if you have a competition, there are losers. Lots and lots of little teary-eyed losers. Not only are there little losers on this show, Abby Lee is not kind and gentle. She works with CHILDREN! But she is not kind and gentle! No, she is big and fat and strict! She holds the girls to strenuous standards. There are lots of practices where they have to work hard in order to do well in the competitions. She tells them when they are slacking and is very sparing with praise! This quote pretty much sums up Abby Lee’s teaching philosophy, “I wasn’t put on this earth to make her feel special. I was put on this earth to make her dance.” She’s also quick to point out that her dancers are middle-class American princesses whose mother’s devote their lives to dragging them around the country so that they can grow up to work on Broadway. There is a reason that it’s hard to win a Broadway audition, it takes a lot of talent and a lot of hard work. In a recent episode Abby told a dancer who was in the midst of a meltdown, “Are you crying? No tears. You save those tears for your pillow, in your room, alone. You’re going to humiliate yourself in front of everyone in this dressing room. Do not cry. Suck it up, kid. You are here, you’re healthy, you are one lucky little girl. Act like it.” And for that I would like to say, “Can I get an Amen?”
|These American girls travel the country dancing and being
filmed for their TV show. They hope to be on Broadway.
Instead of an Amen!, pretty much all I hear is outraged parents whining about the terrible mistreatment of these poor little girls. There are boycott pages, Facebook hate pages and all manner of mommy blogs including Katherine Heigl caterwauling about the mistreatment these young dancers with their own TV show are facing. Many of these people of apparently don’t watch the show. Because while the girls do cry, it’s not frequent. The dancers are in fact the most well-adjusted people on the show. They are focused, determined and extremely supportive of their teammates. They are in fact a shining example of a group of young girls who support each other. While some viewers are outraged that Abby Lee ranks their performance on a weekly pyramid system with some girls at the top and others at the bottom, the girls themselves take the critique well and support and praise those ranked above and below them. When Maddie, who is usually at the top of the pyramid, falls to the middle she tells the camera that it’s nice that her friends get to experience the top. Girls on the bottom talk about working harder to improve and how their goal is to reach their personal best.
Despite the widespread panic, concern and outrage for these girls, the ratings for Dance Moms are stellar. I love the show and seeing all the hard work these young female athletes put into working toward their goals. I’m more outraged at the viewer outrage than the show. Excelling at any athletic endeavor takes work. Speaking of athletics, Bahrain’s soccer team just moved forward a round in their attempt to qualify for the London Olympics.