Why Do Boys Rule on 'So You Think You Can Dance' and 'American Idol'?
by Meredith Hoffa, posted Jul 16th 2010 12:00PM
Everyone's been been going on about how this season of 'So You Think You Can Dance' is all about the boys: The boys rule, and the girls are talented, beautiful, lovely ... and relatively invisible. Such is the script that the fans and judges have subtly and not-so-subtly been writing since way back during Vegas week. Now, there's only one lonely lady left in the competition.
In an interview with E! Online, judge Adam Shankman surmised that the reason the girls are flying under the radar is "women hating on the women." Mr.-Nigel-Lythgoe- Executive-Producer-SIR says the problem is the girls' lack of charisma. "Some of the weaker boys are far stronger in personality than any of the girls," he has said. "You can never forget charisma is much more important than talent."
With all due respect to our esteemed judges ... they're totally missing the mark.
I can't deny that this season is all about the boys. First of all, just mathematically-speaking, the top 11 was tilted in the boys' favor from the start, what with the last minute decision by the judges to add an extra spot in order to accommodate six guys because the talent was just TOO MIND-BOGGLINGLY MASSIVE to stop at five.
Plus there's the fact that Melinda never really counted as a contestant anyway because she is a tapper; seriously, have tappers ever done very well on this show? (No.) Yet does Nigel keep bringing them on because he has an emotional attachment to the art form and quite enjoys the old tyme-y warm fuzzies it gives him? (Yes.) And am I a little bit sad that I'll never be able to reclaim the minutes spent watching Melinda hoofing it around stage in high-waisted shiny slacks and a scary Tap Dance Smile? (Yes. Sorry, Mel. I do think you're super pretty, though.)
Even with the gaping hole created in the wake of Alex Wong's departure [insert me crying here], the remaining contingent of Billy, Robert and Adechike still havefans buzzing about what's to come in the weeks ahead. (Oh, and also Jose has a great smile.) I didn't hear many people buzzing about either of the two top women, Lauren or Ashley. And they were really good -- until Ashley unfortunately got injured and had to leave the competition. Lauren is the only hope for a woman to win the show.
To be sure, viewer demographics play a part. 'SYTYCD's' audience skews female and young. The power of the teen girl voting block is undeniable. But it's not everything, as the ever-articulate Mia Michaels would say.
So why, then, is this season so totally all about the boys? Because it's always about the boys. Is it not?
As as a longtime 'SYTYCD' -- and 'American Idol' -- viewer, it seems that the male contestants have always commanded more attention. Some seasons have boasted technically stronger artists than others, but the male contestants on these shows have often incited more fan passion and more emotional investment from viewers than have their female counterparts. Sure, there are exceptions to this trend (Pick Pickler!), but generally speaking, the girls haven't evoked the heartfelt, visceral support that a Legacy or an Evan or a David Archuleta or a David Cook or an Adam Lambert has. Or an Elliot Yamin. Or a Twitch. Or, inexplicably, a Danny Gokey. How about Ace friggin' Young? Should I keep going? I'm not saying these guys didn't deserve the attention; some of them did. But some of them didn't, and I'm fairly certain that if these "didn'ts" were female they would not have made it so far into the limelight.
The truth is, we react to male and female performers differently -- subconsciously, I mean. There's something about males expressing themselves artistically that we can't help but find irresistible. It's like we see these guys as somehow going above and beyond "typical maleness," and as a result these contestants become hugely compelling to root for.
We're accustomed to girls being drawn to and immersed in and talented at the arts. But more that that, we're accustomed to women expressing themselves. When it comes to men, we're less used to it. So seeing these guys' artistic prowess paired with an openness of expression that we may or may not see everyday is extra moving. It's a story in and of itself.
This is why it's really hard to beat the boys. Even if you're an uber-talented girl. LIke Lauren or Ashley or Kathryn or Katee -- or, say, Crystal Bowersox, who so obviously out-sang Lee DeWyze most every single week on last season's 'Idol.'
We may not be conscious of this bias, but I believe it exists. It reminds me of when I was in college and my boyfriend was in a singing group. People would always be like "Wow, that is soooo amazing that he sings." People who barely even knew him would rave to me about his all-around Awesome Person-ness. And he is an awesome person. But not because he sings. That's crazypants. We'd never say the same thing about a girl.
It's a double standard that I don't like. But I know that I fall prey to it myself. Maybe it's inevitable. What can I say? I do love me some dancing boys. DANCING BOYS!
What do you think? Does anyone else out there agree with this theory? Or are Nigel and Shanks onto something? Are people more jazzed (pun intended -- BAM!) about Lauren than I think? Can she possibly beat the unstoppable Kent or any other guy on the show?