David M. Russell

The vacuous vulgarity of fat dancing

In Commentary on July 21, 2009 at 10:20 am

Given the crap that has been televised on major commercial networks over the past few decades it’s astounding that something has finally offended all my sensibilities: a program called Dance Your Ass Off. This appalling piece of cynical manipulation has just appeared on our screens here in Australia. Thanks, America. I’m now wondering just why we fought alongside you guys so many times during this past century. It’s no way to repay a friendship, I gotta tell ya.

If you are fortunate to have missed this show, count yourself lucky. It features a dozen fat people. Grossly overweight and, in some cases, morbidly obese. Now, before I’m labelled discriminatory or worse I will say that obesity per se does not offend me. Yes, it does make me uncomfortable to watch people who are grossly distorted by excess weight. But I accept that some suffer that fate because of bodily malfunction and some because of a lack of discipline, which can reasonably be labelled a mental malfunction. Frankly, having watched ten minutes of this crap, I just don’t care if my view offends anyone because I think the program is as offensive as anything I’ve ever seen on TV.

The premise of this show is that it is a means of helping contestants regain good health by dancing off massive amounts of excess weight. The lie is given to this rationale by the fact that poor misfits are kicked off the program each week because they have failed in some way (I didn’t watch long enough to learn what). So, let’s be frank: it ain’t about helping people in need control an aspect of their lives that is severely out of kilter.

The reality of this show is that it encourages the female contestants to dress in skimpy costumes and shake their body parts as vigorously as possible Remember, it’s all about the weight loss. Yeah right. The sight of a massively overweight woman in an attempt at a tutu doing the splits (very athletically, I am willing to acknowledge) is not something easily forgotten. Frankly, I think this show is about providing a potentially prurient audience with weird sexual tastes the chance to get their rocks off. A truly scary thought.

In a democracy we all have the right to watch what we like and producers have the right to explore what we might call non-mainstream tastes. Screening a show like this in prime time (7.30 PM on the second most popular network in the nation) does provide a fascinating insight into what network programmers think about their audiences. The whole thing might even be acceptable if it was billed honestly: i.e. a frightening frolic of fat freaks flaunting their afflictions in front of fools. But, no, they try to pass it off as an attempt to offer serious medical assistance to people with demonstrable illnesses (physical and mental). Spare me, please. Pass the remote, quicky!

  1. I totally agree with you! I’m suprised you even gave it as much time as you did… I saw the advertisement and already had assumed the vulgarity you’ve made points of in your article. Even TV shows like the biggest loser make me sick, and they at least promote healthy eating and excercise. Obviously, that’s a plus point for them, but the rest of those shows are definitely not. All it is, is Australia, and the world’s sudden obsession with idolising the even-less-than-mediocre population; Dance your ass off/Biggest loser, both shows in which contestants are competing to bring their physical health back to that of a NORMAL person… how is that heroic or entertaining at all?

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