Thursday, September 13, 2018

Representation Matters

A couple of nights ago I was watching the finale of So You Think You Can Dance and as the four finalists stood on stage, an immigrant, a Dominican, a Filipina and, an all American Blonde were standing there on stage, it hit me: this is fucking beautiful.

I get my balls busted for watching shows like SYTYCD and The Voice and a few other shows (as I should). And really, it started out as nothing more than an excuse to curl up on the couch with TGB.

But as the years have gone on and we've witnessed white-washing of ethnic characters in movies and tiki-torches being bust out the moment someone hints at a black Bond these silly little shows have come to matter a great deal more to me.

A Ukrainian kid who learned English as a second language as an immigrant was up there doing his thing.

A brown skinned Dominican girl who doubted herself blossomed into this fucking badass. I thought about my nieces and, in my head, told them be like her.

A pretty little blonde girl, every bit the girl next door, turned in some of the not-so-girl-next-doorest performances and reminded me that what you see is not the sum of what someone is. Her space was hers and she absolutely owned every inch of it.

And finally, that petite Filipina - the girl TGB expected to win from the get go - blew the doors off the competition.

As we sat there watching them pare down from four to three, then three to two, then finally on to crowning this season's winner I caught myself getting a lump in my throat.

The last performance of the night - a night when they bring back their favorite performances of the season - was my favorite of the season. A man fighting the ideal of what being a man means in the first place. A gay, black man.


Somewhere some kid is watching this show and seeing him or herself up on that stage.

That absolutely matters.

It's not just SYTYCD either.

On Ink Master, watching Oliver Peck encourage a gay, black tattoo artist to keep fighting because he encourages others who, just twenty years ago, would have been unaccepted in the industry matters.

Or The Voice taking people who look not the way you expect pop stars to look because, lord, they can sing.

These shows aren't just silly brain candy.

They do that thing Hollywood has struggled to do.

They represent the sum of us. They put what is best of this country on display. That is a beautiful thing.

TGB ended up being right, as usual. That amazing little Filipina won this season. And, while we know they couldn't hear us from our living room, we cheered because, fuck yeah!

Have a day.