Just bitchin'

The Unfair Art of Entertainment

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I have a guilty pleasure.

A shameful, inexplicable addiction along the lines of many people’s shameful, inexplicable addictions. A trashy TV show that turns my eyes to saucers and my brain to fudge.

What a wonderful feeling.

So once a week I draw the drapes and close the doors. I turn the phone off and I put the cat out. I retreat into a world of unhinged ‘reality’ and flaring tempers and peculiar human politics. Really, it’s no different from any of the other myriad of ‘reality’ shows foisted on a hungry, viewing public. Except that it’s set against a dance background.

And I’m a sucker for dance.

Dance drew me in, but the outrageous behavior of the ‘stars’ held me fast.

Usually, I get my hour-long fix and resume my high-functioning addict’s life, and no one is the wiser. I leave the experience behind and navigate the paths of my own reality consequence-free of my habit.

But then one of the ‘stars’ threw her requisite tantrum, and I have to respond. Otherwise, I’m afraid the seed of it will grow and entwine, and then I really will be lost…purchasing DVDs and spending my time poring over my addiction. Forgetting to brush my teeth and put out the trash.

Scary.

The woman was pushing her daughter’s cause as a dancer within the juvenile group of performers. Her argument was that the girl had been with the school from which the performance company sprang ‘from the start.’ She said it was unfair to give solo performances to newer arrivals when her child had earned the privilege by virtue of her longevity. ‘Not fair,’ she shrieked. ‘Not fair!’

My saucer-eyes blinked.

My jaw dropped, spilling an unlovely drift of popcorn….another addiction, but we won’t get into that now.

Here’s the thing: There ain’t nothin’ fair about the entertainment industry, lady! And nor should there be!

It made me take a second, harder look at the poor, little girl being dragged through this production. She is intelligent, eloquent, and has a certain noble grace unusual for someone so young. But she doesn’t have a dancer’s body. She doesn’t have a face that reads well from the stage. She doesn’t have the finely-honed technique that the other girls have.

Maybe she’ll be a ‘star’ as her benighted stage mother vows. But it won’t be as a dancer.

Another vignette had a choreographer/dance teacher snarling that her student was a ‘stronger dancer’ than a competing company’s entrant in a dance-off. When pitted against each other, the ‘stronger dancer’ lost.

It was easy to see why.

Her opponent was a softer, more lyrical dancer, but more importantly…she was prettier. Plain and simple. Her opponent has huge eyes that could be seen from the back row. She doesn’t. The opponent captured the judges. She didn’t.

I know…Not fair!

But the entertainment industry looks for performers who fit the bill. And that has more to do with native talent and genetic fortune than anything else.

Longevity, personality, work ethic, and so many more ingredients have an influence, but they don’t earn you that coveted ‘star’ status in and of themselves. A combination of them all might. Might. But it would still be necessary to have luck and timing. You’ve got to be what ‘They’ want, when ‘They’ want it.

I’m convinced my last words will be ‘NOT FAIR!’  I’ll rail against the injustice of life ‘til the end. But looking for an even playing field in entertainment, in Hollywood?

Not a realistic expectation.

And just another facet of the unreality of reality shows.

Lord help those poor, little children being publicly flogged for what’s nobody’s fault.

Too bad I can’t look away…

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Just bitchin'

The Vapor Dancers

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Leonardo Da Vinci was fascinated by the changes night could bring.

He walked the streets at dusk, marveling at the beauty of the human face when bathed in twilight’s special grace. There was a muted loveliness denied the harsh illumination of the day.

It has always been so.

Things change at night. Stranger sights and seeming secrets feel freer to move among us. It’s one reason I follow Leonardo’s example, wandering after sunset, hoping to stumble upon lesser-known magic as it goes about its nightly routine.

But I never expected the Vapor Dancers.

I don’t know if this is a subculture or a single occurrence. I don’t know if they are called by another name, but to me…Vapor Dancers.

You’ll find them when the hour is late and the street deserted.

You’ll find them where plumes and columns of steam rise from manhole covers and vents.

The first one emerged from shadow, making a soundless way to the center of the street. Diaphanous fabric floated from her waist, pale and grey as fog. To the music of distant sirens, she approached the pillar of vapor where it escaped the city’s substructure, drifting upward as the breeze sculpted it into pleats and folds. Her arms rose in graceful imitation.

And then began what I can only call a dance.

Moving in silent harmony with the steam, she made it her partner. Then another, and another, and one more appeared, echoing the first’s performance.

But no city street is deserted for long. The dance lasted until a cab turned the corner, the sharp beams of its headlights interrupting, scattering, dispersing both dancers and steam.

I left, too. It was late, and this wasn’t my world. I was just a visitor who’d been treated to something strange and hauntingly beautiful.

Leonardo would have loved it.

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