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Can't Read His Poker Face.
February 27, 2010 12:59 PM   Subscribe

Before he became a household name for "possibly gay figure skater," Johnny Weir skated to Lady Gaga, making him a totally AWESOME figure skater.
posted by grapefruitmoon (116 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've been enjoying Sundance Channel's 8-part documentary: Be Good Johnny Weir (note: autoload audio/video).
posted by ericb at 1:05 PM on February 27, 2010


That first link is pretty terribly written. First using "visibly upset" to describe the same person twice in two sentences. And then, more significantly, making the completely unsupported assertion that Weir would have somehow placed higher in the rankings if the two RDS jocks hadn't made fun of him for being effete.

How does that work? Are Mailhot and Goldberg Olympic judges?
posted by 256 at 1:08 PM on February 27, 2010


On last week's 'Real Sports with Bryant Gumble' Frank Deford had a great interview with Weir. Preview video.
posted by ericb at 1:08 PM on February 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Whenever I watch Johnny Weir, all I can think about is how he would have been perfect in Blades of Glory.
posted by pecknpah at 1:14 PM on February 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


ericb: "I've been enjoying Sundance Channel's 8-part documentary: Be Good Johnny Weir (note: autoload audio/video)."

I started watching that last night on demand. I actually like him a whole lot more than I thought I would, at least when he's not getting upset and acting like an idiot. He's also a whole lot less effeminate than his public persona seems to indicate (unless my gauge for effeminate has been skewed too much as an out gay man...).
posted by This Guy at 1:16 PM on February 27, 2010


Johnny Weir responds to mocking broadcasters
"'I'm not somebody to cry about something or to be weak about something,' Weir, 25, told a press conference in Vancouver on Wednesday. 'I felt very defiant when I saw these comments.'

....'It wasn't these two men criticizing my skating, it was them criticizing me as a person, and that was something that really, frankly, pissed me off,' Weir told reporters. 'Nobody knows me. ... I think masculinity is what you believe it to be.'"
posted by ericb at 1:17 PM on February 27, 2010 [33 favorites]


Why, in figure skating (or at least in the vid above), is there so much emphasis on dancing - and not on actual skating? As in, staying in one spot and throwing dance moves seems to occur more than movement over ice.

I know hardly anything about the ...sport(?) so I'm probably just showing my ignorance.
posted by Petrot at 1:18 PM on February 27, 2010


FWIW -- ice dancing is a different sport than figure skating.
posted by ericb at 1:20 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The video is show skating, Petrot -- competitions have pretty rigorous standards and are more more about movement over ice.
posted by JanetLand at 1:20 PM on February 27, 2010


I saw that video a couple of weeks ago when I was having a grumpy day, and it fixed it completely (by creating a dance party in my heart). The only thing wrong with it is that he could have been wearing black eyeliner. Otherwise, AWESOME.
posted by bewilderbeast at 1:26 PM on February 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Deadspin has been keeping tabs on the efforts of various sportswriters to call him gay without outright saying it. It's been an education in euphemisms.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 1:27 PM on February 27, 2010 [14 favorites]


Petrot - rather than a long and involved explanation of figure skating (which I'm probably less qualified to give than others on the blue, anyway), I can tell you why, in the vid above, there is more emphasis on dancing. That performance is in an exhibition--a show in which the routines are far more about the art, and showmanship, of figure skating, than about landing the extremely difficult elements required in a competition. There is no scoring system; it's purely for entertainment. If the video were of competition in the sport, there would be NO special effects or lighting shows, etc. He's performing for an audience, not for a panel of judges with very strict do/don't lists.
posted by tzikeh at 1:28 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whenever I watch Johnny Weir, all I can think about is how he would have been perfect in Blades of Glory.
I'm pretty sure that's because one of the characters in Blades of Glory is based on Johnny Weir, or at least his costumes are.
posted by craichead at 1:30 PM on February 27, 2010


Johnny Weir responds to mocking broadcasters

It wasn't just Mailhot and Goldberg. Scott Hamilton and (I think) Sandra Bezic spent most of Weir's short program talking about the oh-so-funny tassel on his costume, hee hee, and how "eccentric" and "controversial" he is, wink wink, and how he bought roommate Tanith Belbin (the GIRL that he's rooming with, he's rooming with a GIRL, how "eccentric") a pink rug for their room, nudge nudge.

And then Evan Lysacek came out as sunless tanned and pomaded as a shiny orange, in a designer costume (Vera Wang) made of feathers and fussy drapes of fabric, and suddenly Hamilton and Bezic had no interest in talking about anything but his program. I wonder why?
posted by sallybrown at 1:32 PM on February 27, 2010 [36 favorites]


The video is show skating...

Yes it is. It's also called exhibition skating. In the Sundance documentary they point out that after the competitive season Weir and others perform in these shows for a couple of months in order to make money. And -- the money isn't that spectacular. Weir comes from a middle class family who help support him during the season. But, he and they do live a modest lifestyle.

BTW -- I love his mother in the series. Great supporter and champion for her son.
posted by ericb at 1:32 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Johnny Weir is awesome! He should have placed higher. You can't ever prove that his sparkly costumes and (mild) on-ice flamboyance were the cause, but it's certainly plausible. Either that or home-ice advantage for Patrick Chan. He's just such a positive person and his smiles and waves are adorable. At one point the commentators brought up how Johnny was brought up to be himself, even if it means, as a child, running the other way in a soccer game pretending to be a zebra or a giraffe.
posted by bread-eater at 1:36 PM on February 27, 2010


You know, you really have to work hard to be known as THE gay male figure skater...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:36 PM on February 27, 2010 [11 favorites]


Johnny Weir official website.
posted by ericb at 1:37 PM on February 27, 2010


want.to.hate.so.badly.but.can't. alas, that was pretty sweet.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:42 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


For comparison, here's Johnny Weir's short program from the U.S. Championships earlier this year.

Another reason they love the exhibition programs (skaters and skate-fans alike) is that they can do more fun, dancing, non-regulation stuff, because they don't have to conserve all of their energy for the many required jumps, spins, and footwork.

If you want to know (and most people don't give a damn about all of this, which is fine) about what makes each jump--Axel, Salchow, Lutz, loop, etc.--different, why one is more difficult than another, points for a toe jump vs. an edge jump with the same number of rotations, etc, what is considered "footwork," what the different spins are and how they are achieved, there are lots of websites for that. You can start here at the official NBC site, or this site, which also offers definitions of moves in pairs and ice dancing, and there's always wikipedia.

If you're not all that interested in the intricacies, just know that, in competition, when a skater goes into a jump, spins in the air, and lands, there's a whole lot more to it than up-twirl-down.
posted by tzikeh at 1:47 PM on February 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think Weir should be the next Viva Glam spokesperson. I know so many guys who wear makeup--isn't it about time?
posted by ejourdan at 1:48 PM on February 27, 2010 [14 favorites]


bread-eater - I adore Johnny Weir as a skater, but his routines just weren't as difficult as the top-placed skaters. He has charisma to boot and owns the audience when he's out on the ice, but he has to have the elements. Maybe he could have placed a little higher, but he wasn't anywhere near the caliber of the medalists.

Of course, none of that really matters because he's JOHNNY WEIR, and he's gonna be around a long, long time.
posted by tzikeh at 1:49 PM on February 27, 2010


<3 him, <3 gaga, never seen the gaga performance. thanks for posting this!

also: i've been reading those deadspin stories and ick, just ick.
posted by nadawi at 1:54 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have no idea whether Weir is straight or gay, nor do I care.

But why can't a man just be fabulous without anyone thinking that this is automatically designates what gender he sleeps with? Men should feel free to be as fabulous as they want to be -- to have shiny things, and bright colours, and overly done makeup if they want it.

Fabulosity should be allowed for everyone.
posted by jb at 1:59 PM on February 27, 2010 [102 favorites]


256: completely unsupported assertion that Weir would have somehow placed higher in the rankings if the two RDS jocks hadn't made fun of him for being effete....How does that work? Are Mailhot and Goldberg Olympic judges?

Psychological warfare? In my Olympic figure skating? It's more likely than you think.
posted by tzikeh at 2:01 PM on February 27, 2010


Preach, sallybrown. I switched to a grainy, Eurosport feed on the internet because I was so fed up with Scott Hamilton and co. He doesn't try to mask his contempt for Johnny at all. When he was on Colbert last week it seemed to pain him to admit that Johnny Weir had been underscored.

Frankly, I don't know if the male figure skater = gay is solely an American thing. I read on wikipedia that Joubert, the French skater, has dealt with gay rumours for a long time. But it strikes me as cool that the Russians accept figure skaters as athletes without any silly whispering.
posted by Partario at 2:02 PM on February 27, 2010


Are you people telling me that Scott Hamilton isn't gay?

Either way he seems to be jealous and acting catty for no good reason.
posted by graventy at 2:04 PM on February 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


When he [Hamilton] was on Colbert last week...

I love this slideshow of when Stephen Colbert met Weir last week.
posted by ericb at 2:09 PM on February 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


Men should feel free to be as fabulous as they want to be -- to have shiny things, and bright colours, and overly done makeup if they want it.

Adam Lambert Calls Olympic Skater Johnny Weir A 'Trailblazer
"'I'm glad he's a trailblazer...He's comfortable in his own skin, clearly. And he's expressing himself. I think that's what art's all about.'"
posted by ericb at 2:13 PM on February 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'd kind of hoped the world was more grown up now than wondering whether some guy had sex with other guys, other girls, both, or neither. The man can skate. And he's a great entertainer.
posted by Nelson at 2:14 PM on February 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


That was, indeed, awesome.

I'm getting way past tired of athletes' sexuality being put on blast in the media. Like, for fuck's sake, we're supposed to be talking about their performance, not their performance.
posted by yeloson at 2:16 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are you people telling me that Scott Hamilton isn't gay?

He's married (and has two children). But, so are Ted Haggard and Larry "Wide Stance" Craig.
posted by ericb at 2:16 PM on February 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Obligatory link to the ridiculous, awesome Evgeni Plushenko Sex Bomb video.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 2:16 PM on February 27, 2010 [14 favorites]


I hope I live for the day when a man can dress like that skater, and dance to the glammy pop music as he pleases without moronic "HURR GAY" youtube comments.

As damn if he doesn't make it look easy and fun.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:22 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


There needs to be an action film that centers on the battle for Earth between Segway monks with fire on their heads and Lady Gaga's army of ice skaters.

Whoever wins, I can't really say we lose.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:24 PM on February 27, 2010 [27 favorites]


mccarty.tim, I also long to live for that particular day. I don't have a lot of hope that YouTube comments will ever change much but I do see a future where sportscasters will focus on Weir as a skater and not as a spectacle.
posted by deacon_blues at 2:30 PM on February 27, 2010


tzikeh: Johnny's routine had all the most difficult elements of Evan Lysacek's routine. 3A, 3A+2T, 3L, a 3 + 2 + 2 combo, 3L+3T. Evan did have better execution, so I'm not saying they should have been placed equal. Patrick Chan's program was only one point higher than Weir's in base value, but had multiple mistakes, and no quads (unlike the others who placed above Weir). (And yes, I am most upset about Chan placing above Johnny given their performances, and am not saying that Johnny should have medaled, although I don't think that is unthinkable, from my first point.) Anyway, I'm happy to agree to differ...
posted by bread-eater at 2:32 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Men should feel free to be as fabulous as they want to be -- to have shiny things, and bright colours, and overly done makeup if they want it.

As much as I'm not a fan of figure skating, the wrongest thing with the whole enterprise is the commentary. Often biased and nakedly contradictory, it just bugs the hell out of me.

One pair of commentators during this Olympics were going on about, I think it was a Czech pair of uniforms for their routine. Like a vinyl suit with a racing stripe. Pretty low key disco. And this one commentator goes on and on about it, saying "You can't go to the Olympics dressed like that -- like you're in a carnival", and the missus and I gave each other a "WTF?" look and watched as pair after pair did their routines, each dressed in absolutely carnival-like garb, including one pair dressed as clowns. God I loathe those commentators.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:33 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know, you really have to work hard to be known as THE gay male figure skater...

The fact that he does seem to work at it, while remaining coy at the same time, makes me suspicious.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:34 PM on February 27, 2010


...each dressed in absolutely carnival-like garb...

Photos: "The Most Insanely Ridiculous Figure Skating Outfits From The 2010 Olympics."
posted by ericb at 2:35 PM on February 27, 2010


Video: Is Johnny Weir "Too Gay" For Figure Skating?
posted by ericb at 2:39 PM on February 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


You're saying that like over-the-top gayness and Gaga fandom are mutually exclusive. She sells merchandise with "LADY GAY GAY" written on it, for pete's sake.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:43 PM on February 27, 2010


Photos: "The Most Insanely Ridiculous Figure Skating Outfits From The 2010 Olympics."

Yeah, see, the pair being criticized weren't ANY of those.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:45 PM on February 27, 2010


Are you people telling me that Scott Hamilton isn't gay?

He's married (and has two children). But, so are Ted Haggard and Larry "Wide Stance" Craig.


i wonder if scott hamilton's reaction to johnny weir might be in part due to stuff like this. for basically his entire life he's had his sexuality questioned for doing what he loves. in jr high i dated a guy that was on the color guard. he was constantly teased and bullied because people assumed that because he liked to twirl a flag he must also like to sleep with guys. it doesn't excuse scott hamilton, but can't you at least sympathize? he has had to fight against a perception his entire career. reinforcing the "haha - all figure skaters are gay" trope doesn't push us forward. sexuality shouldn't matter one way or another, and i'll be glad when it stops being a conversation piece.
posted by nadawi at 2:53 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


he has had to fight against a perception his entire career.

I get what you're saying, and I know this wish is unrealistic for someone in the public eye when Hamilton first was, but I wish, as many have said, that being gay wasn't seen as the sort of perception people "fight against." I wish it was analogous to "Oh, you're left-handed?" "No, I'm right-handed."
posted by sallybrown at 3:00 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Johnny Weir is fabulous. And I love watching him skate. I know that technically he's not as rigorous as those that the judges prefer, but it's just so plainly obvious to me that figure-skating is equal parts art and skill, and Weir just kicks those guys on the art stuff. I'm actually not a fan of figure-skating, but when my wife and daughters tell me that Weir is skating, much less skating to Lady Gaga, I stop and watch -- and I smile my straight ass off. I can only wish.

I think he gets placed lower because of his audacity, and openness. I don't think this art/sport is prepared to accept that a gay male figure-skater is a more beautiful figure-skater. Johnny Weir is brave, and he follows in the tradition of another gender-beautifying pioneer, Canadian Toller Cranston (who came out after he finished his career). Here's one of his routines.
posted by kneecapped at 3:01 PM on February 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


i wonder if scott hamilton's reaction to johnny weir might be in part due to stuff like this. for basically his entire life he's had his sexuality questioned for doing what he loves.

If anything that should make him more sensitive to the fact that one's sexuality plays no part in one's ability to skate well. And really, after reading the article linked by tzikeh, I'm finding the man to be increasingly unlikeable; his already unbearably fatuous commentary is part of plan to knock the confidence of other (American) skaters??? What a dick.
posted by Partario at 3:02 PM on February 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Bring down the confidence of skaters like Weir and Abbott to the benefit of Lysacek, I mean.
posted by Partario at 3:03 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


sallybrown - i totally agree with you. but for scott hamilton (and other males in industries that are perceived to be feminine or gay), he's been asked if he's left handed, he said "nope, right handed" and then people say "oh no, you really MUST be left handed" and go so far as to say things like "i know you write with your right hand, and eat right handed, and kick with your right foot in soccer, but you're just hiding the fact that when you're home alone you pull out the left handed scissors". again, it doesn't excuse his tittering at johnny weir, i'm just disheartened to see people who seem to agree that johnny weir can sleep with anyone he chooses and still be a great figure skater make snarky remarks about the sexuality of another figure skater. either you (the universal you, not you in particular) believe that sexuality isn't something to insult people with, and that extends to everyone - or you think it's ok to call someone a closet case because you disagree with things they've said.
posted by nadawi at 3:08 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


either you (the universal you, not you in particular) believe that sexuality isn't something to insult people with, and that extends to everyone - or you think it's ok to call someone a closet case because you disagree with things they've said.

Gold medal answer, right there. True dat.
posted by sallybrown at 3:11 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know nothing about figure skating. It's one of those things I would normally avoid, except for big championships like the Olympics (because most sports become interesting when the top teams/people compete).

But I caught Weir's long program the other day by a fluke, and it is obvious that he loves what he does and is very good at it, and that he has amazing charisma. It was riveting to watch, and the Lady Gaga clip above is the same. He has that something special, and it's sad that people feel the need to put him down for it. I liked the Evan Lysacek performance too, he looked good, but it had nothing on the Weir one.
posted by gemmy at 3:18 PM on February 27, 2010


he has had to fight against a perception his entire career. reinforcing the "haha - all figure skaters are gay" trope doesn't push us forward.

Oh boo fucking hoo for Scott Hamilton for bearing the terrible cross that someone might think he's a homosexual. The problem isn't that people think male figure skaters are gay (crazy thing is, some of them are!). The problem is that we live in a culture where people think being gay is a negative. And jackass commentators who make Johnny Weir out for as some deviant for being flamboyant on ice just make the problem worse, perpetuate that anti-gay attitude. Fuck them.

Johnny Weir's performances are gayer than Charles Nelson Reilly. And that's an awesome thing, to be celebrated. I could care less whether he prefers sucking cock or licking labia; from the few performances I see he's capable of being a sexy entertainer for men and women. I love that he's glammed up and fabulous.
posted by Nelson at 3:48 PM on February 27, 2010 [18 favorites]


You're saying that like over-the-top gayness and Gaga fandom are mutually exclusive. She sells merchandise with "LADY GAY GAY" written on it, for pete's sake.

Probably just a marketing ploy - if you want to get your insipid middle-of-the-road, radio-friendly, pseudo-dance earworm music into the charts, then the surest route is to get it onto the constant rotation setlist at gay clubs by pretending to be a glamorous faghag, and the rest will follow.

It's a well-worn path, used by everybody from Kylie Minogue to Sophie Ellis Bextor.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:05 PM on February 27, 2010


Weir is cool, needs quads.
posted by mr.marx at 4:06 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


i am not defending scott hamilton - i'm saying don't let his bad actions determine your discourse. i was discussing, specifically, the way that people in this thread ha-ha'd about how gay he is because it's just oh so funny to call someone who is acting homophobic-ly a closet case. it's not ok when people from either side do it. i'm arguing that participating in that sort of behavior makes the problem of treating gay like a negative worse, not better.
posted by nadawi at 4:08 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


and if we're going to bring up gaga's musicality, i will again link an old comment of mine. if all you've heard is album tracks, you're missing at least half of what gaga is.
posted by nadawi at 4:10 PM on February 27, 2010


I was very surprised when the judges placed Weir sixth. His performance easily topped Chan's, and while I'm not sure of the exact breakdown in difficulty, should've (to my untrained yet longtime figure skating fan's eye) been good for third or fourth.

The way the media reacts to Weir is often disgusting and awful, though Weir is also very, very savvy when it comes to handling all of this. On top of that, he's just a really good skater, loves what he does, and is living his dream.

I don't remember such euphemisms or intensity of comments with regards to say, Rudy Galindo. But the media was different back then, and as I said, Johnny Weir is savvy. He knows how to take the reins and steer the attention back to his skill, artistry, career, and inspirations without losing a sense of fun or shrinking back from any of it.
posted by cmgonzalez at 4:13 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm so tired of the media's need to point out or determine whether someone is gay. Seriously, what business is it of theirs?

I hope that one day people will be able to achieve excellence in whatever they do without the media (or people in general) raising the question of their sexuality.
posted by bwg at 4:16 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Man, Lady Gaga at the olympics would have been awesome :(
posted by empath at 4:22 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Probably just a marketing ploy - if you want to get your insipid middle-of-the-road, radio-friendly, pseudo-dance earworm music into the charts, then the surest route is to get it onto the constant rotation setlist at gay clubs by pretending to be a glamorous faghag, and the rest will follow.

I know you ain't talkin' bout Gaga. Seriously though, uh, that's kinda musically ignorant. There are plenty of musicians in the top 40 that make "insipid middle-of-the-road... pseudo-dance" music, Lady Gaga is not one of them. Seriously, if she's "pseudo-dance", then what's "dance"? Her music is in the best tradition of gay club anthems, which is where "dance music" comes from. A lot of her stuff sort of reminds me of Giorgio Moroder and Italo-disco, actually, I wouldn't be surprised if she's a fan.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:26 PM on February 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Having watched all the performances, my take was that yes, Weir scored lower than he should have and, say what you will about their comments, both Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic were surprised by his score and said they needed to see the judges' marks to determine what he had been marked down for, because they thought he would have scored higher too.

I thought he was fun and exciting and performed flawlessly, except for the middle of the routine, which lagged a bit. That's normal in the long program, though, and it's why that part is considered the "bonus" section, since skaters are getting tired and need a rest.

Thinking it all through after the night, I completely agree with bread-eater that Johnny Weir should absolutely have placed higher than Chan, who skated with multiple errors.

However, I don't think he would have medaled, because the top three had more difficulty in their routines. What he does, he does perfectly, and he has the artistry, no question. I think he could have, and probably should have, finished fourth, as Lysacek bonused-out his final performance, Plushenko's was top-loaded and Takahashi kicked ass on the short program.
posted by misha at 4:31 PM on February 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


RDS guys: Asses. Scott Hamilton: Ass. Other sportscaster and sportswriters behaving similarly: Asses.

Gaga sounds like a bit of an ass herself, if the implication here is true:

"Weir placed sixth in last week's long form program. Had he placed fifth, he would have skated to Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" in the post-competition gala this Saturday. Gaga had promised Weir she would attend.

So, due to homophobic remarks, none of us will get to see Lady Gaga appear at the Olympic games or see Weir skate to her music. Super"


Making your attendance at the gala dependent your already internationally famous song being played while someone skates isn't very classy.
posted by CKmtl at 4:32 PM on February 27, 2010


Video director: Enough with the waist up shots. Yes, he's got a pretty face, but let me see his goddamn feet. It's freaking ice skating!

Followsopt ops: Nicely done.

Johnny Weir: You rock.
posted by mollymayhem at 4:34 PM on February 27, 2010


Oh, and I don't understand why it matters to the judges why he is gay or not. Seriously. I do remember way back in the 80's and possibly 90's hearing that skaters could not openly say they were gay because people were so paranoid about HIV and AIDS that some countries would not even allow gay skaters to come and perform, because back then no one really knew how the disease was transmitted.

But now he should be able to say, "Hey, I'm gay," or "Hey, I'm straight" without having to defend himself one way or the other. And if all skaters felt they could do that, we could certainly then determine whether judges were marking them down out of their own prejudice by tracking the scores of heterosexual vs homosexual skaters.

So, is it out of fear of not getting sponsorship, do you think, that more gay skaters don't come out openly?
posted by misha at 4:37 PM on February 27, 2010


To be fair, in the Sundance documentary series, Scott Hamilton actually speaks relatively highly of Weir, if I remember correctly. He definitely jokes (putting it nicely) about Weir's flamboyance, but he seems to respect his talent and his artistry. And artistry is how Weir himself defines it, admitting that he's not quite as good an athlete as other skaters, but he wants to be the best artist and performer. I think he achieves that pretty well.

And I totally don't want to excuse Hamilton, because if he indeed is reacting to people asserting that he's gay his whole career, you'd think he'd be even more sympathetic and reticent to delve into a fellow skater's personal life.
posted by This Guy at 4:40 PM on February 27, 2010


Fabulosity should be allowed for everyone.

We really have come a long way in our lifetime, though. It encourages me.

I am only 33, but I remember in high school the Gay-Straight Alliance and our wars with the administration and parent groups simply to be allowed to exist. I remember a dear friend being attacked randomly in the mall parking lot for the cardinal crime of not being a man's man redneck type. I remember there being places my friends and I could not go, because someone would start something and we would have to run, since we were all scrawny kids.

And now I walk around in public and see young men wearing nail polish and eyeliner and feeling free to be who they want to be without being too terribly afraid of physical reprisal or any more sneering than people give the odd young folk in general. There are role models for those young men now, and they can be pretty if they want to be.

We're still in a terrible place, in a lot of ways. There is an infinitely long way to go before people like Johnny Weir are simply accepted for who they present themselves to be. But we have made a lot of progress, too.

This is my favorite skate routine, but that Lady Gaga routine is fantastic.
posted by winna at 4:45 PM on February 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


misha: "So, is it out of fear of not getting sponsorship, do you think, that more gay skaters don't come out openly?"

Saying "Hey, I'm gay" is hard enough on a one-on-one basis with people you know, love, and trust. Doing it on a national level would be terrifying. Sponsorship may be part of it, although if any sponsors out there don't suspect (or fear) that he's gay, or at minimum perceived as gay, then they're not paying attention. Any sponsor who's afraid of sponsoring a gay athlete probably won't touch (perceived-closeted) Weir with a ten foot pole.

And why is it on Weir to stand up and say anything? He is who he is, and he's fine with that. Let's all be fine with that without any major announcement needed.
posted by This Guy at 4:47 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yikes, ice dancing. I wish I could find it independently entertaining, but I can't help associating it with a roommate who watches competitive figure skating and goes "oh this is boring! skate skate jump. I liked the girl who danced around, she was way better."
posted by Solon and Thanks at 4:50 PM on February 27, 2010


Are you people telling me that Scott Hamilton isn't gay?

Of course he isn't! BALD MEN CAN'T BE GAY!!!!! Case in point, Elton John: He comes out, and *poof*, instantly full, thick head of hair. That's how it works, y'all.

Seriously, though, Hamilton's from the generation of skaters who really worked to butch up figure skating. Guys like Kurt (backflip!) Browning and Elvis (mullet!) Stojko, who'd wear jeans and t-shirts with their masculine black skates while salchowing to rock'n'roll.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:50 PM on February 27, 2010


Seriously, if she's "pseudo-dance", then what's "dance"?

- no personality-cult artist
- no lyrics, except perhaps as samples
- more than 180bpm
- never likely to be played on radio
- doesn't come with a film clip
- made on a computer by some guy in his mother's basement
- not sold in high-street record stores, but in obscure shops that only stock vinyl, and in which it is de rigeur to listen to your intended purchases in special DJ mixing booths or else you run the risk of being thought of as a poseur.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:00 PM on February 27, 2010


Seriously? Prescriptivists take the fun out of everything. And 180 BPM seems extreme...
posted by This Guy at 5:10 PM on February 27, 2010


More write-up and video on Weir's press conference. My two favorite parts:
He just wants them to think before they speak — and to imagine the damage they could do to people like him and to generations of children whose parents may not give them the same freedom and support his did if they think their child will only be ridiculed for being who he or she is. “I would challenge anyone to question my upbringing and question my parents’ ideals and feelings about bringing up me and my brother, who’s completely different from me but taught very much the same way that I was.”

“Even my gender has been questioned. I want that to be public because I don’t want 50 years from now more young boys and girls to have to go through this sort of thing and to have their whole life basically questioned for no reason other than to make a joke and to make people watch their television program."
bread-eater, cmgonzalez -- I agree that Weir should have scored higher than Chan, but not above Lambiel or the medalists. I think the fact that because he's sixth, not fifth, he won't be in the exhibition skate, is part of what's adding fuel to the fan's fire about his placement.

And for "Lady Gaga sounds like an ass?" Why? It's not like she's sitting around with nothing to do, and decides that she'll go to the Olympics on a whim if her music is featured, but if it isn't, then fuck that. She'd likely have to do some schedule shifting to get out to Vancouver for one night, to cheer Weir on during his exhibition skate. She's not being an ass for not going if Weir's not skating--what, exactly, would she do there? If she appeared now, all the media would get themselves into a lather about how she's, who knows, getting in a dig at the ISU? Showing up for free publicity because Weir was snubbed? That's just an odd thing to assume about her decision to appear if he placed fourth or fifth.
posted by tzikeh at 5:23 PM on February 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Probably just a marketing ploy - if you want to get your insipid middle-of-the-road, radio-friendly, pseudo-dance earworm music into the charts, then the surest route is to get it onto the constant rotation setlist at gay clubs by pretending to be a glamorous faghag, and the rest will follow.

Marketing ploy, maybe, but Lady GaGa is bisexual. That's even what Poker Face is about.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:24 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Gaga Virus spreads soon everything will be about my disco stick.
posted by The Whelk at 5:35 PM on February 27, 2010


Seriously? Prescriptivists take the fun out of everything. And 180 BPM seems extreme...

I suppose a descriptivist position makes sense: anything that's danceable is dance music.

Granted, it extends the definition to include goth, punk, ska, reggae, indie pop, maybe even some metal and just about anything else under the sun, but it's a workable definition.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:37 PM on February 27, 2010


Are you people telling me that Scott Hamilton isn't gay?

He's married (and has two children). But, so are Ted Haggard and Larry "Wide Stance" Craig.


Using these two examples just reinforces the stereotype that gayness is something that unscrupulous and promiscuous men do that hurts their wives and families, rather than the constructive basis of love and family life (even marriage in some states, I hear!).
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 5:51 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Weir sure has handled himself well, hasn't he? He's my big gay hero. Whether he's actually gay or not. He's not afraid to be flamboyantly entertaining, he's a fantastic skater, and he speaks like a decent man. Good for him.

back in the 80's and possibly 90's hearing that skaters could not openly say they were gay because people were so paranoid about HIV and AIDS that some countries would not even allow gay skaters to come and perform, because back then no one really knew how the disease was transmitted.

By the mid-80s and definitely in the 90s, the only people not knowing how HIV was transmitted were ignorant motherfuckers. Someone might have kept a gay skater away from the Olympics and claimed it was about AIDS, but don't legitimize their homophobia with any confusion about the medicine.
posted by Nelson at 5:55 PM on February 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Nelson, I do agree it was homophobic and not medical. I meant that was their rationalization. As I said they were paranoid.
posted by misha at 6:00 PM on February 27, 2010


insipid middle-of-the-road, radio-friendly, pseudo-dance earworm music

I.e., "pop song."

I frequently sneer at the mainstream in an asshattish manner, but occasionally, something ubiquitously, crushingly beloved by the masses is actually good, and Lady Gaga is one of those things. Really, how can anyone but the most puppy-kicking, kitten-flaying, bunny-impaling, soulless pinko cyborg hear "Bad Romance" and not immediately put on their hot pants (skates optional) and boogaloo down funky Broadway 'til the cows come home?
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:14 PM on February 27, 2010 [12 favorites]


Lady GaGa haters can suck it. That video was awesome all around! I love how he incorporated moves from the music video into his routine. Much happy, thank you!
posted by ErikaB at 6:18 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Gaga sounds like a bit of an ass herself, if the implication here is true:
"Weir placed sixth in last week's long form program. Had he placed fifth, he would have skated to Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" in the post-competition gala this Saturday. Gaga had promised Weir she would attend.

So, due to homophobic remarks, none of us will get to see Lady Gaga appear at the Olympic games or see Weir skate to her music. Super"
Making your attendance at the gala dependent your already internationally famous song being played while someone skates isn't very classy.
Uh what? Why would you show up if they're not going to play your song and your friend (?) isn't going to be performing? I'm sure she had lots of stuff to do.
posted by delmoi at 7:04 PM on February 27, 2010


I think crusty old Dick Button summarized the problem with "flamboyant" (there's that word again) Johnny Weir:
"He's a highly talented skater with great ability, but his skating is conservative. It is not a flamboyant style of skating," Button says. "And yet the costume that he wears is off the wall. And I feel that the two things are like two feet going off in opposite directions. I don't think that the costume helps his skating. ... It distracts you from what his skating is."
Had Weir skated this program in Salt Lake City he might have medaled, but men's figure skating, thanks to the new judging system, is moving through another phase where athleticism is above artistry. Having the jumps, especially late in a long program when you're tired, is far more important than putting on an artistic performance.

Weir lost at least 3.2 points by messing up triple flips in both his short program and long program. If Weir lands both those jumps acceptably, he finishes fifth. If he did his long program flying sit spin acceptably, that's another .54 points. So just on technical flubs he lost about 3.75 points. If he were a better technical skater, he could have scored higher GOEs, and that probably would have made up the 4.63 he would have needed to take the bronze.

For that matter, if he were 10% better on his component scores, he'd pick up 11.6 points -- more than the 8.36 point gap between him Takahasi, and also enough to get him on the podium. And these are judged marks, so maybe it's a bunch of homophobic component judges marking him down for being too gay, but it's difficult to say given that he did make a few crucial mistakes in both his programs.

So while the theatrics (oh look, another code word) were great, he just didn't have the technical skills to really back them up. So I would agree with Button here -- Weir is letting his program write a check his skating can't cash.
posted by dw at 7:11 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


So while the theatrics (oh look, another code word) were great, he just didn't have the technical skills to really back them up. So I would agree with Button here -- Weir is letting his program write a check his skating can't cash.
Well come now, the guy is still an Olympic level skater who finished sixth in the world. I fail to see how he is obliged to justify his costume choice with his performance. So if he turns in a flawless routine, he can wear whatever he wants, but otherwise he'd better tone it down? Fuck that. He should feel free to express himself however he wants, pink corsets and all.
posted by peacheater at 7:43 PM on February 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


That's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is he's promising something bigger than what he's actually delivering. His dynamic artistry doesn't have dynamic skating to go with it.
posted by dw at 8:00 PM on February 27, 2010


The only dance music north of 180 is gannet. Most of it is 120-140
posted by empath at 8:00 PM on February 27, 2010


I think this is a case where whiny Plushenko might have had a point on quads. A quad would have put Weir on the podium. But Weir doesn't have a quad, so it's a moot point.
posted by dw at 8:03 PM on February 27, 2010


Okay, so I only heard Johnny Weir's name today for the first time, on Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me of all places. And here I come to MeFi and see this post and find out who he is and watch the Poker Face video. Which is the first time I've heard any of Lady Gaga's songs. And I'd only heard of Lady Gaga recently in that AutoTune the News video that was also linked from MeFi.

I'm not sure what kind of slack gay man that makes me when I can describe the latest permutations of the Health Care legislation being debated or the current state of the European Union's beef with Greece or the status of Abe Vigoda's vital signs, but I don't know who Johnny Weir or Lady Gaga is until somebody on MeFi fortuitously links to them.

Thank you, MeFi...without you, I think I'd be forced to turn in my Rainbow Brotherhood membership card.

Oh, and Johnny Weir is kinda hawt.
posted by darkstar at 8:10 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


It means you are the kind of slack gay men who is in serious need of a teenage dance party.
posted by The Whelk at 8:13 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I know nothing about scating, but Hamilton and whatsertname were audibly impressed with Weir's long program, and they seemed as suprised as the booing audience by his low score - and they - I assume - know something about the sport.

I don't know how the judges could fail to be influenced by their subconscious feelings about feminine men - they're only human.

I guess I know nothing about skating, but I do know a little about homophobia.
posted by serazin at 8:16 PM on February 27, 2010


"scating"? What the hell is my problem?
posted by serazin at 8:17 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the Project Rungay guys -- Ice Princesses: The Costumes, Part 1: The Men.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:10 PM on February 27, 2010


"Scatting"? Maybe you need to know more about "scatting." Maybe we all do.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 9:11 PM on February 27, 2010


I'm actually not a fan of figure-skating, but when my wife and daughters tell me that Weir is skating, much less skating to Lady Gaga, I stop and watch

I agree. I don't normally watch too much figure skating, but I gotta say his long program was just beautiful to watch. It was so gorgeous - he's a step ahead of everyone else when it comes to the perfection of an artistic vision on skates. Judging it with numbers is not really right, and I really think he doesn't care about the numbers as much as the art. I love that.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:02 PM on February 27, 2010


Somebody help me out here: I don't watch figure skating so I'm not in the know. How many competition points do these guys get for their asses?

Because, you know, that seems to be a key selling point of the genre, and all...
posted by darkstar at 11:09 PM on February 27, 2010


That's Gay - Johnny Weir

I have a problem with Johnny Weir being needlessly bitchy at times, but then that may be part of the act. I also worry my problem with Johnny Weir may be part of my own internalized homophobia.
posted by crataegus at 12:06 AM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


gannet = gabber -- stupid iphone keyboard.
posted by empath at 1:02 AM on February 28, 2010


That's Gay - Johnny Weir

That segment sums it up pretty nicely. Few can seem to get over their internal homophobia to treat Weir as the accomplished, award-winning athlete that he is. When you get down to it, it's not too different, perhaps, from how Jesse Owens was treated during and after the Olympics in Nazi Germany.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:25 AM on February 28, 2010


...and for the Godwin Medal, BP - please step up to the dais.

I must say, though, it's a long way different from the reaction to Australia's Olympic gold medallist diver, Matthew Mitcham.

Of the approximately 6,000 men who have competed in the Olympics over the last two weeks, only one of them has been publicly identified as openly gay. That one, Matthew Mitcham, won the gold medal in the men's 10-meter platform.

Article from the Sydney Morning Herald beforehand: Out, proud and ready to go for gold

Later: Beijing Olympics diving gold medallist Matthew Mitcham has upstaged a star-studded field to win the 2008 Sports Performer of the Year award in Melbourne tonight.

And, from last year's Sydney G&L Mardi Gras: leading the parade (photos of last night's Mardi Gras here)
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:06 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm a bit perplexed that people are looking for masculine stereotypes in skating. Especially if they're figure-skating commentators. What's next, making suggestive remarks about the tights of ballet dancers?

As much as I'm not a fan of figure skating, the wrongest thing with the whole enterprise is the commentary. Often biased and nakedly contradictory, it just bugs the hell out of me.

That's a pity. I started watching ice skating because the local commentator knew his stuff, could pass his love for the sport through to the audience and exuded an old-school, urbane charm.

By the way, if people end up remembering Plushenko for the medal controversy (he had a couple of weak landings initially, though I preferred the rest of his program), it'll be like people remembering Zidane for his head-butt. Stupid.
posted by ersatz at 3:44 AM on February 28, 2010


Weir is cool, needs quads.

[schwartzeneggar] Well, then I will take him to the gym and create a program that will really blast his quads, they will grow larger and have greater definition and you will see this nice outline in his tight little skating outfits. [/schwartzeneggar]
posted by bwg at 4:36 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


What completely fabulous thread! Great post, great comments, great links. Made my day.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 5:44 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


So I actually competed against Weir on-and-off back when I was still skating (I quit in '99). I remember the first year he started, and how I thought everyone was lying when saying he had only been skating a year or so. He was young and shot up through the levels quickly. I don't think I saw him really struggle with anything.

He struck me as smart, though I think figure skaters tend to be naturally intelligent. But he had zero interest in school. His mother actually boasted to my own mother about this, in discussing his commitment.

I never really saw much of the petulant side of him. I was really surprised when his claims started that he was disliked by the judges and officials. But he certainly seems to thrive on it now. Considering the previous skaters that were even more flamboyant (Galindo was mentioned above) or trouble-causing (Bowman) didn't get much flack, I think it's more media manipulation than anything.
posted by FuManchu at 6:27 AM on February 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm not a big figure skating fan, so I asked my wife, who is, about Weir. "He's a good skater," she said, "and he's a character."
posted by jonmc at 8:02 AM on February 28, 2010


I’ll sign on to a moratorium on discussing gay athletes when the press gives up on all coverage of the human-interest angle in sports, viz. Alexandre Bilodeau’s brother with cerebral palsy or any narrative of “overcoming adversity” at the Paralympics.

Until then, urging us to disregard the gay presence in sports perpetuates the cloak of silence around actual gays in sports. This-all was discussed to death in the 1990s and the arguments in this thread not only are not new but are archaic.
posted by joeclark at 9:52 AM on February 28, 2010


I’ll sign on to a moratorium on discussing gay athletes when the press gives up on all coverage of the human-interest angle in sports, viz. Alexandre Bilodeau’s brother with cerebral palsy or any narrative of “overcoming adversity” at the Paralympics.
Well, it's not like disability rights activists are exactly overjoyed at the way disability gets discussed in mainstream sports coverage. And just as there could be ways to discuss disabled athletes and disabled relatives of athletes that would be less problematic, it seems to me that there could be ways of talking about gay athletes that would be less homophobic than the constant "is he or isn't he" speculation.

Besides which, I think the issue with Weir is not just about his sexuality. It's also about his gender presentation, which is related but not exactly the same thing. I think that a butcher out gay man would, in some ways, be less threatening than a guy who really doesn't play by the rules of conventional masculinity.
posted by craichead at 10:13 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't care if we talk about him being gay. Speculating on famous people's gayness is one of my favorite past-times.

I am concerned that unconscious (or conscious) homophobia on the part of sportscasters and more importantly judges impacts how his athletic and artistic performance is evaluated.

For me the idea isn't, "who cares who he sleeps with", instead it's, "how did he perform? and while we're talking about it him, what a cute outfit!"
posted by serazin at 10:59 AM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Until then, urging us to disregard the gay presence in sports perpetuates the cloak of silence around actual gays in sports.

do you know why we should stop speculating about the gayness of this particular athlete? because he's asked us to.

"...it's not part of my sport and it's private. I can sleep with whomever I choose and it doesn't affect what I'm doing on the ice."
posted by nadawi at 12:07 PM on February 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


- no personality-cult artist
- no lyrics, except perhaps as samples
- more than 180bpm
- never likely to be played on radio
- doesn't come with a film clip
- made on a computer by some guy in his mother's basement


Dude, no. No. Look, I make electronic music in my bedroom. I've done it for many years. I listen to Venetian Snares and Remarc and Bong-ra and all that shit. That said, you are wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Read up on the history of disco and how that became house and techno.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:31 PM on February 28, 2010


Also, "no personality cult artist"? How would you describe Aphex Twin? Or is he too mainstream too?
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:35 PM on February 28, 2010


Metafilter: gayer than Charles Nelson Reilly
posted by liza at 3:59 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only dance music north of 180 is gabber. Most of it is 120-140

And breakcore/IDM, which I think is where he's coming from with this (that's how I interpreted the 180BPM thing anyway).
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:52 PM on February 28, 2010


- reduces listeners' ability to detect sarcasm
posted by Sys Rq at 5:47 PM on February 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Gaga Virus spreads soon everything will be about my disco stick.

Its crazy how you can go from being Joe Blow / to everybody on your dick, no homo.

[NOT-HOMO-IST]

Seriously, wtf Kayne?
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:32 PM on February 28, 2010


At least there was no disagreement over the stores with DJ booths.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:35 PM on February 28, 2010


Kayne cannot be reasons with, rationed with, delt with. he is merely Kayne.
posted by The Whelk at 7:18 PM on February 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


SLYT of Lady Gaga's acoustic piano version of Poker Face, here.
posted by darkstar at 5:31 PM on March 1, 2010


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