Fighting with the Sky

Posts Tagged ‘figure skating

With the Olympics almost over, I have to admit that I have kind of become obsessed with Johnny Weir.  I think he’s pretty awesome and not only because he says things like this: “I think masculinity and femininity is something that’s very old fashioned.”  And not just because he does routines to Lady Gaga.  But because he is also an amazing figure skater, which is often overlooked in news coverage of him.

So why wouldn’t I love the latest installment of Current TV’s “That’s Gay” which focuses on Johnny Weir.  Please watch:

Guess what!  I have a tumblr now! You should read it.  It’s for a combination of shorter posts, personal stuff, and things that don’t quite fit into the themes of this blog.

this ain’t livin’: Female Celebrities Behaving Oddly?  It Must Be Mental Illness!

You are, literally, not in control of your own body when you are a female celebrity. Hollywood is sometimes called a fishbowl, especially for women, and it’s a very apt comparison. No place is safe. There is no escape. Private phone calls, emails, conversations, all can potentially be used against you and all of them are.

Equality 101: As a survivor of sexual assault…

Then let’s factor in the amount of people who have close friends, partners, or family members who have been sexually assaulted– now you’re talking a good portion of the classroom. Then there are the rest of the students, with various levels of exposure to discussions of sexual assault, and multiple opinions thereof. As the teacher, the compelling question becomes: how can we 1)have a discussion about this without serving as a trigger for those who have been assaulted, 2) respect the personal relationships many students may have with survivors of SA and 3) talk about it in a way that is relevant to the subject of the class?

Womanist Musings: Monstrous Musings: Patriarchal Baddies and Smokey Goodness? Musings on the Monsters of Lost

While Lost is certainly an improvement on most television shows in terms of diversity (and certainly 200x better than Disney), it seems white male privilege still rules the island. The show gives the most narrative attention to LWMs – or lost white males – and people of color are often presented stereotypically (Republican Guard/torturer Sayid, over-controlling and “English-challenged” Jin, simpleton Latino dude Hurley, folksy wisdom Ruth, oppressed Sun, etc).

Bitch Blogs: Need another reason to love Johnny Weir?

In response to two Quebecois commentators who spoke derogatorily of Weir and said he should take a gender test, Weir responded by issuing an awesome statement that touched on identity, free speech, life in the public eye, and the changing acceptance of gender, saying “I think masculinity and femininity is something that’s very old fashioned.”

The answer: nothing.

On Sunday night I was anxiously awaiting the original dance of the Russian ice dancing pair Domnina and Shabalin.  I had heard about their aboriginal routine before then and wanted to see how they were going to “tone it down” and how it was going to be received at the Olympics.  I did not see their original performance, but I can tell you that their performance at the Olympics was full of cultural appropriation and offensive and lacked class.

These are what their original costumes looked like: At the Olympics, they lost the war paint on their face and the severely darker than their skin tone body suits.  The designs on their body suits were still there just not as pronounced.  But don’t worry, the loin cloths and fake foliage were still there.

The actual dance was a weird combination between skating moves and stereotypical “aboriginal dancing.”  I have not seen real aboriginal dances as they are spiritual events that (at least my impression of them, I’m not that knowledgeable) are private and closed to outsiders.  Their moves seemed to me to be what Westerners thinks aboriginal dancing is as opposed to what it really is.  And did anyone else see him pull her by her hair not once but twice throughout the performance?  Not cool.

You can watch a video of their performance here.

On top of being offensive and cultural appropriation, the dance itself was uncomfortable to watch and did not work with the music at all.

Also apparently, as the commentators pointed out numerous times, Domnina and Shabalin have met with the First Nations of Canada since they have been in Vancouver after the outcry of their first performance of this original dance.  I don’t really understand the connection.  The First Nations are indigenous peoples of Canada.  Their dance is using aboriginal imagery…from Australia.  I don’t really think that the First Nations can offer that much insight into a different culture on the other side of the world.

It was kind of amusing to listen to the commentators try to be nice when talking about the controversy surrounding this performance.  But you could really tell that they thought that the performance with ridiculous and offensive.

So, why did the Russians think that this was an ok thing to do?  I’m still not really sure, but the theme of the original dances was supposed to be folk/country dances.  There was everything from cowboys, to “Hava Nagila,” to the can-can to Bindi.  It was quite an interesting mix.

Why was the Russians’ dance much more offensive than the other “racial drag.”  The Gawker uses the example of the Americans who did an Indian dance to compare with the aboriginal dance of the Russians.  The Gawker’s reasons that the aboriginal dance was more offensive than the Americans’ Indian dance (performed by Davis and White) made a lot of sense:

* Davis and White didn’t look like total asses. In fact, they looked pretty good! According to NBC, Davis and White studied dance with an ex-Bollywooder who now runs a dance studio called BollyFit in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Costume materials came from “an authentic Indian clothing store.” Said Davis, “It was very important for us to do research and do the theme justice.”

* India, like America, is in the cultural export business, so imitation comes across as flattery instead of mockery. By contrast, Domnina and Shabalin chose a culture where dance is often tied to sacred rituals, and rarely shared with outsiders.

* No brown face. As Domnina and Shabalin discovered, donning a dark mahogany skin suit to camouflage one’s pale white skin is kind of a mood killer.

I can’t believe that the judges scored the Russians’ original dance so high.  But I guess the new judging system is meant to be impartial (even though it isn’t) so they are judging based on technical performance and choice of music and costumes are not taken into account as much.  But the dance just didn’t work for me, especially compared to the dances of the Americans Davis and White and Canadians.  And the Russians’ went on the win bronze.

Happy Bodies: Gender in the classroom

And yep it was Gender Day! The one day of the term where professors pay lip service to feminism and allow us to read female authors, and perhaps even women of color (if we’re lucky.) And while I never enjoy gender days, finding myslef inevitably getting worked up about the sexist, homophobic, transphobic sentiments usually expressed only latently in classrooms, this day was particularly rough.

Womanist Musings: Male Figure Skating Highlights Homophobia and Sexism in Canada

In an interview with Salon, three time world medal champion Elvis Stojko, made clear that the greatest danger to figure skating is the feminization of male skaters.

Global Comment: Vancouver Games & First Nations resistance

First Nation dancers welcomed the athletes and the world to the Vancouver Olympics, and thus the lie that Canada not only recognizes Native rights, but is proud of our Indigenous citizens, was upheld.

Gawker: More Adventures in Olympic Racial Drag

Whereas Russian duo Domnina and Shabalin drew outcry with their warpaint-slathered didgeridoo routine, Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White are receiving multicultural accolades for a Bollywood routine that has Meryl sporting bindi and a modified sari. It’s a hit in India, and Indian-Americans are apparently down with it, too. How did their racial drag avoid Domnina and Shabalin’s pitfalls?

Hopefully more on this later this week….


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