So You Think You Can Dance

really lives up to its name during the audition shows.  Some wonderful dancers try out, of course, and move on to the next round, but some of them–well, they think they can dance, and maybe their moms do, but the judges and the audience know better.  SYTYCD is the only reality and/or competition show I follow.  I’m not a dancer, not even a social dancer, and I frequently have no idea why the professional judges like or dislike anything.

But I love the show.  Dancing, music, costumes, choreography, suspense, SYTYCD has it all.  As a veteran of too many writing contests and sometimes scathing judging, I admire anyone willing to put their hopes and talents on public display as these young dancers do.  I also admire the way the dancers waiting to audition cheer for the ones on stage, and the way the eventual contestants help and support each other.

I’ve caught occasional episodes of some of the other competition shows.  American Idol and Dancing with Minor Celebrities are also, as far as I’ve seen, based on talent and/or hard work.  The Great Race certainly involves hard work, as well as strategy, manipulation, and now and then spiking someone else’s wheels.  Survivor appears to me to be based entirely on manipulation, trickery and doing unto someone else before they can do it to you.

Of course, I’m not forced to watch any of these shows, and generally I don’t.  What brings the whole subject to mind is the fact that I’m about halfway through reading Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.  I don’t read a lot of YA lit, although I’m happy that so many young people are fueling the current popularity of the genre.  First person present tense narration is not my favorite form.  But The Hunger Games and its sequels have gotten such great word of mouth (and mouse) that I picked up the set.

Collins’ Hunger Games are reality TV run amok, with a flavoring of Theseus and the Minotaur.  Twenty-four teenagers, “tributes” from the twelve districts of a post-Apocalyptic North America, are thrown into the games.  Some are volunteers and some have lost the lottery, but only one will survive, while the entire populace must watch as punishment for past rebellion and warning against another attempt.  The wealthy dwellers in the Capitol bet on the action, and the deaths, all of which are televised, twenty-four/seven.

By page 200, and after several days in the vast “arena,” only nine or ten of the kids are left alive.  These include Katniss, and as she is our first-person narrator, we know she will survive, but Collins keeps us on the edge of our seats, hoping that she will accomplish more, that she won’t be the only survivor, that she will somehow turn the Games upside down.  And we cringe a little, and wonder just what popular entertainment says about any society.

The Hunger Games is bleak, even for a post-Apocalyptic vision, but it won’t let me go until I find out how Katniss survives.  And I will read the sequels, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, for the rest of the story, although I’ll probably take a break and read something light between them.  And on TV I’ll stick with SYTYCD, which sends its eliminated dancers off alive and well, with an introduction to their next career opportunity and every expectation of a successful future.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Houston A.W. Knight
    May 28, 2011 @ 16:41:10

    I was watching the PRO loop when you guys were setting up your sites…it’s nice to see one. You did a great job from what they taught you. Good luck with your blog and welcome to blogsville!

    ;-D Hawk

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