Scott K

Scott K
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
October 09
Scott K is a gay man living in sin with his partner of over twelve years whom he still cannot legally marry. Scott says he's politically active not because he wants to be, but rather feels he has to be. He takes very seriously Thomas Jefferson's famous quote "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance" which, strangely enough, he thinks he first heard on an episode of The Simpsons. Scott has one cat, two dogs, and a lot of opinions.

Editor’s Pick
JULY 11, 2009 6:29PM

How They've Ruined 'So You Think You Can Dance'

Rate: 6 Flag

WARNING: This blog post contains spoilers about the most recent episodes of So You Think You Can Dance. Don't read it unless you're caught up on the results standings.

One of the things I love about the show So You Think You Can Dance is watching true talent in action. For example, check out the versatility of my favorite couple Janette and Brandon. Despite being completely different types of dances and neither of the dancer's specialties, I thought they nailed the two numbers they were asked to perform this past week.

First there was an Argentine Tango:

Then later they followed it up by playing a pair of cat burglars in a really fun jazz routine by choreographer Wade Robson:

What I don't like about this season of the show is the obvious attempt at manipulating voters the producers are doing, not for artistic reasons, but because they want certain dancers to make it to the Final 10. For those of you that don't know, the Final 10 go on tour, and obviously the producers want dancers who have big fan bases to make it so that the tour will sell more tickets. I know that the judges have done this in years past, but it has never seemed so blatant as this year primarily because of one certain dancer.

Phillip Chbeeb is a hip-hop dancer and has no formal training. He is amazing to watch when he performs in his own style, but let's be honest: he has sucked at the other styles of dance he's performed. In a deliberate move to help him, Phillip and his partner have seemed to perform hip-hop more than they should have if they were "randomly" drawing the styles of dance. In fact, at least one of the times he and his partner Jeanine performed hip-hop, the show made no mention of the couple randomly drawing the style of dance like they usually do. On those occasions where Phillip had to perform other dance genres, the judges overlooked an incredible amount of clumsy footwork and poor technique that they normally tear other dancers apart for. This was extremely evident to me in their critique of his jive dance this week. Compared to jive routines we've see in the past on the show, he was absolutely horrendous.

Interestingly enough, I tried to find the video of this jive routine online to include in this post but wasn't able to. It seems that Fox issued take-down notices to the few copies that existed. Isn't it strange that they would demand that dance be taken down whereas they seem to have no problem allowing Phillip's much better hip-hop routines to stay on YouTube?

Did you also notice how upset judge Nigel Lythgoe got at the choreographers for giving Phillip and Jeanine such a horrible Russian folk routine? I am willing to bet that it was because after watching this disaster, he knew that there was no way the couple would stay out of the bottom three. I mean, come on, who's going to pick up the phone and vote for this?

When Phillip did end up in the bottom three and judges had little choice but to eliminate him, Nigel and the other producers made special arrangements for Phillip (and Caitlin, the other dance eliminated and another favorite of Nigel's) to go the tour with Final 10. Yay! Everybody's happy, right? Not really. How is this fair to those dancers who earned their spots in the Final 10? This just reinforced my theory that the producers were giving special treatment to Phillip to get him into the Final 10 so he'd be on tour. When that didn't happen, they took him anyway.

I know that So You Think You Can Dance (like American Idol and the other talent shows of this ilk) is first and foremost a TV show designed to make the producers lot of money. I'm not naive about the idea that certain performers are chosen over others not because of their talent, but because they make for better television. What I'm pissed off about is that they still try to pretend this is strictly a talent competition and the judges' critiques are based strictly on dancing ability. As a member of the television audience, I'm insulted. This season the producer's manipulation actually got in the way of the competition itself and ruined a show I used to love.

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I hate to see this show sinking to the level of fixing and cheating that I see on many of the Bravo competitions, and of American Idol.

This show is the most likely to creating insurmountable problems for the dancers because they are so dependent on the choreography, the dance choices, the partner choices, then the judging, then the public.

I remember that exquisite dancer from the first season, who easily could have won. She got the boot along with her lousy partner, when they kicked couples off.

And Nigel's upsetness was a shock, because I know that the judges are pressured to praise the choreography no matter how bizarre or bad it is.

Good post! Rated.
I love this show so much. Ruin is such a strong word.............I am in denial b/c I know what you say is true. I am still enjoying it though and Philip gave such a great speech when he was kicked off. Rated
I love to see the new talent that shows up on this show!. I agree Phillip was allowed to stay on way past time and I adore him! I am hearing more words like 'whole package' and variations along that theme more this year. In other words it is not just enough to dance but can you sell it? do you have adequate performance value?sponsors?
And I can only hope they are having conversations with some of the choreographers this year! I disagree tho that Nigel and the other judges might soft pedal them...after all this is a huge showcase for the choreographers.
I'm so with you on Phillip. I thought he should have gone weeks ago. I mean, how many variations of the wavy arm move ARE there?

I think they are careful to promote the show as "America's Favorite Dancer" as opposed to "Best" specifically for the reasons you mention. In that way, I give the producers at least a little bit of credit.
Thanks, but I love this show anyway. It has the most talent, the most heart, the greatest judging, etc.etc.
It has never been a true talent contest, and this is every bit as true about American Idol as well. It is a popularity contest. For the producers to differ to the will of the populace is understandable but continually irritating. I’ve been able to hold a strong line against reality television which for the most part is simply a way for the producers to obtain program without paying a cadre of writers. Unfortunately, I’ve weakened and allowed both American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance to become shows that I watch.

I completely agree with your assessment, but I think it is the penalty we pay for succumbing to this reality television approach to programming. It’s deceptive, it’s unfair, it’s misleading, it’s dishonest … and admittedly very entertaining. The only option is to turn the channel.

Great post BTW.
Chris, I'm really glad you've put up these videos, and I'm ALWAYS glad when there's any debate about SYTYCD. But I can't agree with you.

The judges couldn't eliminate Phillip because he hasn't been in the bottom three up until two weeks ago. His solo was brilliant and he was up against two dancers, Vitollio, and Kupono, who have both been in the bottom three more than he has. It would have been seen as incredibly manipulative for the judges to take him off then. But they took him off the first chance they could.

So don't blame the judges for Phillip. Blame the twelve year old girl audience.

If the judges have been manipulative about anyone, I think, it's Kupono. He really did not deserve to stay over Vitolio. They just didn't want to put Kayla through another partner change.
Sorry, Scott, I don't know why I called you Chris.
I agree with Juliet about Vitolio. I was dumbfounded when he was let go. I can only think and hope that he will continue on and achieve success with this talent. Kupono? I was stunned about him being picked up at auditions as well.
What can I say? It is my not very secret passion. I am amazed by dancing and we have seen some very talented folks up there this season.
Actually, I do agree with you that in some sense the season has been ruined by manipulation, but it's not so much the dancers. It's the choreography. Has any else noticed that we haven't been seeing the dancers picking choreography out of hats lately? Does anyone else actually believe that Melissa and Ade just happend to pick Pas de Deux? And when Nigel gave his little Russian folkdance mea culpa, it sounded like they had deliberately chosen that choreography for Phillip. Something really smelly is going on there.

Yes, there is most assuredly some manipulation going on regarding the assignment of the dance styles. Phillip got hip-hop twice in five weeks, and he also got the normally huge crowd-pleaser jive.

Then as you pointed out, Melissa and Ade got the Melissa and Ade.

As to your earlier comment that this past week was the first week that the judges could realistically get rid of Phillip, I feel he should have gone the first week he landed in the bottom three.

How the judges manipulate it though is by not criticizing a routine that fully deserves to be criticized such as several of Phillip's dances. His jive was quite bad, yet the judges praised him for it overall. Why? If Evan would have danced that, they would have tore him to shreds? I know it wasn't Phillip's own style, but that hasn't stopped the judges before.

By praising a routine that doesn't deserve the praise and overlooking the flaws, they help win it votes. Let's face it. A lot of times the voters cast their votes strictly on what the judges say.

@knightrider makes a good observation in pointing out that they call the winner of SYTYCD "America's Favorite Dancer" and not "America's Best Dancer." The question is, is it "America's Favorite Dancer" or "The Producers' Favorite Dancer That They've Cajoled America Into Voting For"?
I meant to say in my above comment:

"Then as you pointed out, Melissa and Ade got the Pas de Deux, and Melissa is the only ballet dance in the top 20."

Damn non-editable comments!
Actually, come to think of it, Phillip got hip-hop twice in FOUR weeks.
To be fair they've been pretty harsh on Phillip all season. Except for the first week with the hip hop, Nigel especially has been hypercritical. He pretty much told Phillip in week 4 if he didn't step it up they were going to boot him off the first chance they got....And yes he got hip hop a second time, but it was hip hop with a CHAIN. That was the hardest routine they've ever had on the show. So I'm still going to disagree with you on Phillip.

But the choreography manipulation has got to stop. As soon as this becomes a show to showcase choreographers it's going to start circling the toilet. Especially because they don't have the technical crew to do good choreographers justice anyways.
Philip is a crowd pleaser and will be a money maker. The fact he has no formal training is not an excuse since two of the top 4 last year were both untrained dancers, but managed to learn different styles of dance.

I have no illusion about SYTYCD. It is what it is, a TV dance show created to make money. I enjoy it and know the structure is set up to make sure a well rounded dance troop is ready for tour. Philip will do well on tour that is why they made a special addition to the top ten. But, despite all the manipulation and politics the show has been really good for the dance community. For that I can overlook the pretend competition aspect and just enjoy the dancing.

TV has never been real. There is no such thing as reality TV.
I agree that a part of me feels that Phillip didn't deserve the spot- by the same token, if he brings in more of an audience for dance- so be it.

This season has bothered me most by the advertising of the next season already. It's like this current group doesn't count- they're unimportant, because "hey- we're auditioning for next season and they're amazing!" Give this group their time to shine...
I was sad that Phillip left. His goodbye speech made me tear up. I work with kids like him that are poor and life offers few chances. He's right--he will inspire others with what he's done and what he will continue to do. I love this show. I know it has issues, but.....

I think your blog was, unfortunately, spot on. We’ve no discernible dance skills, but even my partner and I could see that undue praise was being lavished on Phillip, which I felt was not so discreetly related to promoting the Dizzy Feet Foundation that Lythgoe and others are spearheading. Phillip’s last speech, which sounded well rehearsed—though still quite heartfelt (I’m not that jaded)—was a rallying cry to the “underserved” (their word) children who lack the finances to pursue dance, an audience that this foundation plans to include in its mission (check the blog announcement on the FOX Web site).

I think this is a wonderful aim for the foundation and would enjoy seeing Phillip continue to pursue a career in dance with the now-added benefit of professional training, but what a slap in the face to the others. (Just call it the “Top 12” then, um-kay?) In truth, I really liked Phillip with his Alfred E. Neuman ears and sweet disposition; I was rooting for him from the first, but (sigh) it isn’t fair, is it? Or as Mary Murphy might say: “No, it’s NOT! Ha, ha, ha, ha.”
For me and my little one, it'll take a lot more than that to ruin the show. We didn't come into this with any expectation that it would be a regular talent show (it is too close to AI and--let's face it--anything with Mia Michaels is going to be a wild ride), so we were not disappointed. What we've been thrilled with is how it showcases dance in a way that no other show has been able to. We don't ever erase the shows until the little one has re-watched and learned the dances (as well as she can). These kids this season have done what we thought was impossible--they've shone even after having to follow our faves from last season (Mercy, anyone?). I love the show, and if they'll just improve the camera stuff, I'll watch it as long as it's nearly this good.

BTW, I agree with most of you--I can't believe Vitolio is gone, can't believe Kupono and Philip have stayed, and while I'm on that subject, I still can't believe they didn't keep Natalie (the redhead that was Katee's roommate last year).

Brandon and Jeanette are my faves this year, hands down. They make the hair on my arms stand up. Can't wait to see what happens with new partners each week.
I too love the show. The Russian Folk Dance draw was a bummer.

Thank you for writing a blog post about a TV show that contains actual opinions and analysis, and is not just a lame summary.
M Todd has expressed it well. As a watcher for five years, I do agree that the show is getting more blatantly manipulative but it has always been that since day one. That doesn't take away from the incredible dancing and entertainment value for me. When they are doing the initial auditions and first week in Vegas, you can bet that they are picking their top ten right then.

You all have discussed Philip and the other male contestants enough. What about the females (or girls, as Cat likes to say)? I just don't "get" the obsession with Kayla. Yeah, she's attractive. Yeah, she lifts her leg well. Yeah, she is blond (I guess she is). But let's face it, Caitlin is a much better dancer than Kayla is. And so are most of the other contenders. But Kayla, like Philip did, seems untouchable. They never even give her constructive dance criticism.
I wonder when this type of show gets the same treatment as the rigged game shows?

Look at all the crap that AI had a few years ago with we couldn't get through to vote. Rigged? Control the phone banks and you control the out comes. Yes they may be controlling the vote with judges comments, but it doesn't matter how you do it you still getting a preselected outcome.
This is not ballroom dancing; it is warm-up for Olympic gymnastics. I don't watch it. I can't stand listening to that female judge scream and bellow every time she opens her mouth. Good Grief! Not my idea of a fun show or relaxing entertainment.
I am only halfway thru today's show and i have to say this show isnt ruined, it's pretty much magic. The talent and heart on this show is out of this world.