Thursday, May 14, 2009

What They Don't Know...

Let me see if I understand this properly. American troops have abused prisoners in their custody. That much we know. There are photographs of the abuse. That we also know. But to release the photographs would "'further inflame anti-American opinion' and endanger U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan." We know that, too? Really?

So we're supposed to understand that people in the Muslim world, while they are upset about the abuse, will only get REALLY mad if they can see the pictures? That might very well be true, but it seems nonsensical to me, given the fact that in absence of the of the pictures, people can create whatever stories they like about what happened, and "further inflame anti-American opinion" that way. I suppose that your could make the point that the photographs show abuse so heinous that nobody's imagination, no matter how fertile, could possibly come up with a worse scenario, but to borrow a line from Star Wars, "I can imagine quite a lot."

And of course, this raises another point. If the prisoner abuse was so bad that letting people find out what really happened, "could reasonably be expected to endanger some unspecified member of a group so vast as to encompass all United States troops, coalition forces, and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan," we had better be doing everything in our power to make sure that it doesn't happen again. But if, as we all know, secrecy breeds abuses, aren't we still creating a breeding ground? Come, Mister President. You promised us better than that.

"The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears."
President Barack Obama, Memorandum on the Freedom of Information Act, 21 January, 2009.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Blogging So You Think You Can Dance

So You Think You Can Dance (or SYTYCD for those in the know) is the best thing on summer TV. The one and only problem with the show is it's not the sort of show people bother to give a chance. That is to say, at first blush the idea--American Idol light, only with dancing instead of singing--doesn't seem like such a good idea at all. Unless, that is, you're already into dance.

But here's the thing. The reality-competition format works better for a dance competition than it does a singing competition precisely because the world of dance is so foreign to most of us. And SYTYCD works so well because despite being on TV, it remains about dance. To put it another way, people become singers and go into the music business to become rich, famous, stars. Dancing is a bit different. Sure, if you want to be a star it helps if you can dance, but for those whom dancing is their main gig, their true talent, superstardom isn't even an option. So who bothers with dance? People who live and breath dance. Quirky, eccentric, artsy, passionate people who have devoted their lives to dance, not because they wanted to become rich and famous, but because they love dance.

So SYTYCD succeeds where AI doesn't because there's nothing strategic about devoting your life to dance, making those who have achieved success in the dance world the truly talented in their field as opposed to the famous personalities that have maneuvered their way to stardom in television, music, movies. When you watch SYTYCD, you quickly realize it's not made for TV, and that's because the people making it never planned on being stars of TV. So instead they do the best they can, which is simply opening a window to their world, the dance world. And what a delight it is to discover a subculture filled with passionate, talented, hard working, brilliant people.  Take it from me, a non-dance type person, SYTYCD will surprise and impress you.

Join us at So You Think You Can Dance Season 5 Social for the season premiere, Thursday May 21, 2009 at 8:00/7:00c on FOX.