Thank Heaven For Little Girls Performing As Men Pretending To Be Grown Women
August 26, 2011 11:11 AM   Subscribe

Jezebel's venomous coverage of the show Dance Moms is a thing to behold, but one detail that all parties involved seem to have missed: the song featured in the problematic "LaQuifa" dance number is based on a character ("the post modern pimp-ho") that Shangela Laquifa Wadley unveiled for the stand-up comedy episode of RuPaul's Drag Race.

See also: Jezebel on Toddlers & Tiaras.
posted by hermitosis (53 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
The song and routine are presented in the show as crucial to helping little Nia audition for "traditional ethnic dances."
posted by hermitosis at 11:14 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Which ethnicity's dances does Abby think she'd be auditioning for? Jesus, if you're going to say she's going to addition for Black roles, don't beat around the bush. It's not like it's going to help her audition for traditional Inuit dance roles.
posted by spicynuts at 11:18 AM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


This show is horrific. Every time I go home to visit my parents, they make me watch it and I am just stunned by what these little girls go up on stage and do every week.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 11:20 AM on August 26, 2011


This show is horrific.

Sadly, I think this is the point. We are supposed to sit back and feel smug and laugh at these people for "following their dreams" or whatever. I suspect it's corrosive to everyone involved. I feel kind of grubby just knowing about it. (or is this just me feeling smug about what I think the watchers feel?)
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:24 AM on August 26, 2011


I can see that these girls love to dance. That's clearly why they go and work their asses off in this studio from 4 PM to 11 PM every day, but I feel like Abby uses and abuses them, especially poor Nia, who is constantly being made to do "ethnic" dances in "ethnic" costumes like the one in the OP or the one in this clip from YouTube.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 11:29 AM on August 26, 2011


The gritty secret of reality shows is that the producers intentionally put normal-ish people into shitty scenarios to see how it plays out. This causes normal-ish people to do and say things that cause you, the viewer, to feel smug and laugh at them.

For instance, let's say you were put in a reality show. The producers, for a larf, stage a home invasion in which a gun is pointed at your face and people yell at you and you think you are going to get raped. Then you literally piss yourself and shit your pants.

The viewer, of course, knows that it's all a gag, so your shitting yourself is hilarious, and you come off looking like a weakling douchebag. And the viewer has no sympathy for you because you should have known what you were getting into. But, of course, you do not piss or shit yourself as a matter of course, and only in extraordinary circumstances, so it's going to suck that people are going to see you that way from now on.

My point is, reality shows are really good at making you think that the assholes are the ones you watch on the screen, and not the producers, writers and editors, whose entire job is to make those guys on the screen look like assholes.

Although I don't feel particularly bad for the people on the show, I reserve my hatred for the people that manufacture ways to make everybody's worst come out.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:47 AM on August 26, 2011 [13 favorites]


Surely, though, reality TV has been around long enough that people could predict they'll be made to look like assholes, and not sign up for that?
posted by rusty at 12:02 PM on August 26, 2011


It's like they watched the Bruno movie and said, "Yeah, let's do that!"

(Also, that Laquifa character on Drag Race was pretty fucking dreadful on her own.)
posted by klangklangston at 12:08 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think the mom in question is made to look like an asshole.
posted by hermitosis at 12:09 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Excellent, just what the world needs, more graduates of the Dina Lohan School for Delusional Stage Mothers.
posted by futureisunwritten at 12:09 PM on August 26, 2011


Can't tear my eyes away from this trainwreck. Damn you.
posted by TheCoug at 12:11 PM on August 26, 2011


I wish I'd just gone on not knowing that this show exists. When I first heard about Toddlers and Tiaras I assumed it was a parody (and not a good one, way too on the nose). I...I think I'll just going to go about my life believing that about this, too.
posted by peachfuzz at 12:13 PM on August 26, 2011


Surely, though, reality TV has been around long enough that people could predict they'll be made to look like assholes, and not sign up for that?

So I'm like 99% sure that Dance Moms is fake in the way that Desparate Housewives is fake. Every parent on that show knows that they're putting out a product.

My issue with Dance Moms is that there are children involved. I know we allow parents to bank on their children, but this show seems particularly egregious.
posted by muddgirl at 12:15 PM on August 26, 2011


I meant "Real Housewives", not Desperate Housewives.
posted by muddgirl at 12:16 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dance Moms as Bad as it Sounds review from media life, for those of us who are sick and tired of Jezebel links.
posted by misha at 12:20 PM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


What's worse? Watching this dreck or treating Jezebel as anything but link bait for eyeballs?
posted by docgonzo at 12:23 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, all the show's episodes are viewable on the Lifetime site.
posted by misha at 12:25 PM on August 26, 2011


> For instance, let's say you were put in a reality show.

Personally, for this to happen it would have to be at gunpoint.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:30 PM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am obsessed with Dance Moms. This has caused much mockery in my household.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:36 PM on August 26, 2011



Personally, for this to happen it would have to be at gunpoint.


Really? I can think of a few reality shows I'd happily join:

"America's Next Victoria's Secret Supermodel Personal Assistant"

"Here's 4 Billion Dollars"

"Let's Just Eat Pizza and Beer"

"Richard Branson's Sidekick"

"Kickin It With Kanye"
posted by spicynuts at 12:41 PM on August 26, 2011 [28 favorites]


"America's Next Victoria's Secret Supermodel Personal Assistant towel boy."
posted by hot_monster at 1:01 PM on August 26, 2011


Mefi's own Ink-stained wretch wrote this piece about the show for MSN a few weeks back.
posted by mothershock at 1:07 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


While I get what you are saying, spicynuts, the problem with all your suggested shows is still the problem of all other reality programs -- the TV camera. I'd love to have $4 billion , for example, but I sure wouldn't want people to see the depravity I'd get up to once I got my cash.

(Sadly, the same is probably true of pizza and beer; I am neither a clean eater or a .)

And though I can't speak for Victoria's Secret Supermodel Personal Assistant/towel boy, I imagine the gay male equivalent* is DEFINITELY something I wouldn't want the world to see. I don't have much shame, but I do have some.

Which is why my kids wouldn't be on Dance Moms. Fuck, that shame is why I can't even watch such shows -- even though I understand their entertainment value.

* The gay male equivalent is "Ben Cohen's jock launderer" in case you were curious.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:08 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


"America's Next Victoria's Secret Supermodel Personal Assistant towel boy."

No...I want them wet.
posted by spicynuts at 1:08 PM on August 26, 2011


Haven't seen it, but I sort of expected Dance Moms to be about the parents who begin training their children, from a young age, for careers in ballet.

If any of you want to make a show that deals with all kinds of entitlement, class, race, parental control, and body image issues, ballet would be a pretty great place to start.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:13 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mz Stagger Lee loves that site, but my casual interaction with it made it seem well, just as trashy, vapid and venomous as a lot of the content they critique. It DOES seem to provide a comfortable place for women to talk on the internet though, so I guess it doesn't need to meet my approval.

Anyway. Gawker. Bleh.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:22 PM on August 26, 2011


"She's not going to school for four years on the Martin Luther King scholarship because she's white."

Hey lady, fuck you!
posted by ericb at 1:34 PM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Mod for a Day
Who Wants to Ban a Troll?
So You Think You Can Mod a Site?
Metafilter's Funniest Typos
The Next Big Flameout
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:36 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


My point is, reality shows are really good at making you think that the assholes are the ones you watch on the screen, and not the producers, writers and editors, whose entire job is to make those guys on the screen look like assholes.

Well, Big Brother's Rachel is truly an asshole. No need to write or edit her personality and behavior.
posted by ericb at 1:43 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I had never ever heard of this show until I read this thread. I had a good chuckle at the whole "ethnic dancing" thing. I wonder why people can't be more precise and straight to the point with the words they use.
posted by RedShrek at 1:47 PM on August 26, 2011


I found myself at the intersection of free time and cable last night and this show was on.

For 1/2 hour I was glued to the train wreck that was the episode where Holly is upset that her daughter is being treated like a character actor. There was so much other drama going on (girls sharing costumes, and mothers being all mad because "I paid for that costume, I don't want your daughter wearing it too!) and Holly was just not taken seriously. All the other moms were asking her what the big deal is. She couldn't make them understand that afros are not part of her daughter's daily life.

But I'm sitting there thinking, gyrating against a chair, to music that details how a woman is going to make a particular man want and need her? That's part of all of these little girls' lives?

Frankly, I'd rather my kid have the afro than this sexist cauldron of strutting and tumbling.

Also, there's an homage to one girl's dead grandmother. hooo boy.
posted by bilabial at 1:56 PM on August 26, 2011


And to be clear, Abby is appallingly racist in her notions of Nia and her future career.
posted by bilabial at 1:57 PM on August 26, 2011


This comment from Chara stuck with me: Not too long ago, I was cast at the last minute in a small but significant 'random black girl singing soul' role. The previous actress quit less than two weeks before the show opened, so the director sent out a call for black women who could act, dance, and sing. Somehow, my name came up and the director called me and invited me to join the cast, sans audition. The first day of rehearsal, I thought I kicked ass. I picked up the dance routines quickly and already had some of the chorus parts committed to memory. The cast members welcomed me with open arms, relieved that their ensemble was once again complete.

The first time I sang the quintessential 'random black girl singing soul' solo, the cast's relief turned to horror before I'd even finished 8 bars of the song.
--
On the one hand, I am thankful for the work and the experience, but I often wonder, "Did I get this part because I'm good or because no other black girls auditioned?". When directors command me to "act blacker", I am both amused and confused. I am black. I'm the descendent of African slaves. As far as I've been able to trace back, there is barely a hint of European blood in my lineage. But I grew up in the middle of a white suburban wasteland in the heartland of the US, far from my cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents in the south. There was no one, save my parents, to teach me how to be "black". But what does that even mean? Do all black female characters have to speak Black Vernacular English and sing soulfully and whip out sassy 'ooooh girrrrrrl!' lines with lightening speed in order for audiences to accept them?

posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:04 PM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Frankly, I'd rather my kid have the afro than this sexist cauldron of strutting and tumbling.

As a white person, I'm not really in a position to understand which I would find worse, were I black and, for some awful reason, forced to choose for my child. In both cases, we're getting a young, little person being told, "This is the cubbyhole for your identity. This is the Thing it means to be you." There doesn't seem to be much of an upside to that choice, here.
posted by meese at 2:05 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wouldn't be so against the afro if Abby Lee had meant it as a celebration of black pride and the beauty of natural African-American hair -- which is why people wore their hair that way in the '60s and '70s, as a way of reconnecting with a heritage and saying that you don't have to have straight blonde hair to be attractive. But I think Abby's too narcissistic and myopic to understand any of that. She equates "afro" with "hoochie" and "wild 'n' crazy black person" and "silly drag queen." An afro *wig*, no less. Nia chooses to wear her hair in a certain style she likes, but if that doesn't fit Abby's picture of "an ethnic type," too bad.
posted by mirepoix at 2:44 PM on August 26, 2011


It should be Holly's choice to make -- If I were a dance teacher, I'd bring up the issue as being potentially sensitive and let Holly decide whether she'd be comfortable with it.
posted by mirepoix at 2:47 PM on August 26, 2011


I'm not sure what you mean by saying all parties "missed" that fact, but they mentioned on the show the words "drag queen" in reference to the style and origins of that number. Not specifically that it was from Drag Race, but they definitely said it was from a drag queen.

Now please forget I knew that.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 2:59 PM on August 26, 2011


"Eating Food White Having Sex"
"Your cats are too damn cute."
"Congratulations! Your first novel will be published!"

All of 'em. All of 'em.
posted by angrycat at 3:09 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Actually, I wouldn't do the first two because you know those would end up with some tragic consequences like hummus accidents or dead cats.
posted by angrycat at 3:16 PM on August 26, 2011


I think "Hummus Accidents" has potential as a show.
Also, I'm in line for "Here's 4 Billion Dollars"; they can watch me buy books. And read them.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 3:24 PM on August 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


The only thing I know about this show is that it airs before and/or after and/or is promoted during the surprisingly entertaining Roseanne's Nuts reality show, which is about Roseanne Barr's life on a macadamia farm in Hawaii.

Taking it with the grain of salt that all reality programming should be taken with, it's a pretty interesting portrait of an iconic media figure doing odd things and musing on being alive and trying to cope with her own crazy. I do recommend it.
posted by hippybear at 3:38 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Let's Just Eat Pizza and Beer"

This reminds me of shows like Man Vs Food, where it looks like we're watching a man slowly kill himself with copious amounts of greasy food. I don't know about their filming schedule, but eating like that guy does can't be healthy and makes me feel a bit bad for him that he pretty much has to do that for a living.
posted by Hoopo at 4:23 PM on August 26, 2011


There is no way that "dance teacher" is actually able to dance.
posted by fuq at 5:45 PM on August 26, 2011


The dance teacher used to be a dancer who decided she hated performing but loved choreography. Comments on her weight aren't really necessary here, I think.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 5:53 PM on August 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


The one (actual) reality TV show I always thought I might voluntarily participate in given the chance was The Mole. Neat hook, run-seeming, non-humiliating games; why not?
posted by eugenen at 5:56 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Argh, *fun-seeming
posted by eugenen at 5:57 PM on August 26, 2011


Frankly, I'd rather my kid have the afro than this sexist cauldron of strutting and tumbling. bilabial (that's me)

As a white person, I'm not really in a position to understand which I would find worse, were I black and, for some awful reason, forced to choose for my child. In both cases, we're getting a young, little person being told, "This is the cubbyhole for your identity. This is the Thing it means to be you." There doesn't seem to be much of an upside to that choice, here.
posted by meese at 5:05 PM on August 26 [2 favorites +] [!]


I've been thinking about my original statement, that I would prefer the afro. But I've changed my mind a few times.

It's (marginally) more accepted that there is sexism in these performances. Only Holly would (could?) acknowledge that the situation was racist. So, maybe I'd prefer the sexism, which a mother would be "allowed" to argue about. But then, if you called the sexism what it is, Abby Lee would probably say, "if you don't want your daughter to be sexy, you can tell her she has to give up the dancing which she loves so much." So having my daughter face this would be a "more typical dance experience" but only because Nia is the only black girl in her group.

Then. Well. I don't have kids. And I'm white. So this is all pre-childbearing me talking a big talk.

Finally, it would be really, really offensive to a lot of people if a white kid put on an afro and a leopard print outfit and performed this dance. I would openly enjoy pointing out to Abby Lee that if it would be offensive for my white kid to wear that outfit and hairstyle, maybe the shoe fits the other foot, as they say? (Also, why can't white kids learn "all the ethnic dances"?!?!?!?! Why does Nia's blackness give her the responsibility to make herself even more flexibly, style wise? Oh. Right. Because women and black people need to perform the same tasks, only better, if they want any recognition. Nia can't "just" be a great dancer. She needs to be great at all the dances. I really hope I get to live in a world where that isn't "true.")
posted by bilabial at 6:15 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sparkle Motion is doing what now?
posted by ostranenie at 7:08 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: The post-modern pimp-ho.
posted by ostranenie at 7:09 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


That video in the Toddlers & Tiaras link is terrifying. What are they making a three-year-old do? Jesus Christ.
posted by tickingclock at 12:51 AM on August 27, 2011


I was a gymnast who took dance. I wanted to be a dancer...but some of us are just not meant to swan around, no matter how willing you are to practice and practice and practice. I had Russian coaches for gymnastics, and a Russian ballet dominatrix instructor. In the 70's...when nobody cared about special snowflakes. You worked or you failed...and sometimes both.

But there was none of this weird "stage mom" crap. At best, some of us got rides home...but parents weren't hanging out in the studio watching us through a glass wall, comparing us to each other. I don't know if there was such a thing as competitive dancing, but if there were, it was completely under my radar. Maybe that's the difference; it wasn't a competition against anyone but yourself and your body. No girl in those classes was there because her parents wanted her there; we were there because we were insane and trying to push our bodies to do something that bodies don't want to do. That's why things like ballet are so beautiful to watch...because a good dancer is superhuman.

This...this is a travesty of what dance instruction should be. Dance should be an exploration of yourself, your world, your body...it is how you travel through the space around you. It is working in tandem with others to create perfect unison, it is listening to others but also listening to yourself, it is training your muscles to do things that defy Newtonian law. Dance is magic and power, and trial and pain.

This show, that studio, those women, they are all guilty of child abuse in my eyes.
posted by dejah420 at 9:13 AM on August 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Au contraire: LaQuifa stole the show – a persona replete with African-American cultural references that appeared fully formed out of nowhere, complete with memetic catchphrase (“LaQuifa?” “What?!”).

In fact, give LaQuifa her own show.
posted by joeclark at 10:28 AM on August 27, 2011


The only thing I know about this show is that it airs before and/or after and/or is promoted during the surprisingly entertaining Roseanne's Nuts reality show, which is about Roseanne Barr's life on a macadamia farm in Hawaii.

Me too, and I second your recommendation. It's fantastic (Roseanne's Nuts, not the dance mom show), and I do hope she gets to do another sitcom like she's been hinting at in her Twitter stream. I would love to meet her one day and tool around in a golf cart on her macadamia farm while we munch on pot cookies. My dreams may not be grandiose, but sounds like paradise to me.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:22 PM on August 27, 2011


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