Will Kate Middleton join Willow Palin on “Dancing With The Stars” next year .. and/or what does “communism” really mean today?Nov 19th, 2010 | By Dominic Berry | Category: In Brief
I have found two things in the news especially annoying this week. And I have come up with the idea that it will provide some relief if I can somehow link them together.
To start with, like millions of other TV addicts in North America (and around the world?), I was appalled this past Tuesday night when “teen activist” Bristol Palin made it into the “Dancing With The Stars” finals, over entertainer (and much, much better dancer) Brandy Norwood.
Ms. Palin is a little too chubby to be as cute as her mother, but I would agree that she does present an engaging down-home TV persona. And I think it is impressive that she has managed to get through all her dance routines so far this season, without ever once actually falling down.
Yet any show that is supposed to involve a dancing contest, but has a rating system which finally puts Bristol ahead of Brandy, is not worth watching. Bristol and her mother have said that “there have been no organized vote-getting tactics to keep Bristol on.” But anyone familiar with the habits of the far-right-wing mob on the world-wide web can appreciate what is happening. And the main trouble is that (somewhat ironically some will say?) it is all a little too much like what organized communism has proved to be! You are finally judged not by your real talents and abilities and hard work, but by your politics. (The mob in this case claims it is for freedom, and against communism, etc. But that is just the beginning of its Orwellian doublespeak.)
I was still in the midst of my astonishment over what those who manage “Dancing With The Stars” had allowed to happen, when, back here in the real non-Alaskan true north, strong and free, I stumbled across what finally struck me as a related message on the Globe and Mail website (“Posted on Tuesday, November 16, 2010 11:31PM EST”):
“Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants Prince William and his fiancée, Kate Middleton, to come to Canada after they are married … Mr. Harper extended the invitation in a statement … congratulating the couple on their engagement … ‘On behalf of all Canadians, I wish to congratulate His Royal Highness Prince William, the grandson of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, on his engagement to Miss Kate Middleton,’ the statement says … ‘It would be an honour to welcome Prince William and his bride to Canada in the future and show them the special warmth and cherished traditions that are reserved for members of the Royal Family.’”
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My problem here is that, like recurrent majorities of the Canadian people over the past few decades, I agree with Manitoba MP Pat Martin. When “asked whether he had any comment on the engagement” of the celebrated pair described by the British tabloids as “Wills and Kate,” Mr. Martin just “said he thinks Canada should ditch the monarchy long before William gets near the throne. When the current Queen dies, it will be ‘time for Canada to grow up.’”
So … I have nothing against Prince William and his fiancée, of course, of course. (Kate Middleton does not seem to me as interesting as Prince William’s mother, but here too I would agree that her media persona does have some particular intrigue of its own.) And this week the US and other as well as the Canadian media have been full of juvenile gushing over the recent announcement of their engagement at last.
But I am a Canadian. And I simply do not feel the kind of “special warmth and cherished traditions … for members of the Royal Family” that minority PM Stephen Harper has attributed to “all Canadians.”
In this as in a few other respects living in the Canada that some are now calling “Harperland” also seems to me a bit like living under communism. Like a good communist, Mr. Harper has no respect at all for the opinions of anyone who disagrees with him. More than 60% of the active Canadian people have never cast a democratic vote for him or his political party. And yet he feels quite comfortable making claims on behalf of all Canadians, that opinion polls of the more recent past have rather clearly suggested the majority of Canadians no longer endorse or care about.
As both an old-fashioned and a new-fashioned Canadian Conservative, Mr. Harper seems to feel that promoting the fading British monarchy in Canada might still help him win a majority of seats in the Ottawa parliament in the next federal election (a feat he has yet to accomplish), without winning anything like a majority of the cross-Canada popular vote (thanks to our somewhat odd current electoral system).
For better or worse — and certainly I believe for worse myself — this does seem to be the absolute height of Stephen Harper’s political ambition. (Granting that our somewhat odd current electoral system has equally served the ambitions of other prime ministers in the more recent past as well — even if they did not pretend to speak for “all Canadians” on controversial issues that go to the heart of contemporary Canadian citizenship, in what the Constitution Act 1982 so provocatively alludes to as our “free and democratic society” today!)
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As a kind of ultimate background to my final linking together of the two things in the news I have found especially annoying this week, I should stress that I also found some other recent headlines about Bristol Palin more encouraging. Eg: “Bristol Palin apologizes for vulgarity and sister’s homophobic slurs” ; and “Bristol Palin apologizes for sister Willow’s homophobic posts on Facebook …”
The point here is that “Bristol Palin has apologized for a heated online exchange in which she and her sister Willow repeatedly used curse words and gay slurs to attack Facebook users who were critical of Sarah Palin’s Alaska, the new Palin family reality series which premiered on TLC on Sunday night.” (Ie November 14, 2010. The Palin family is managing to get on TV quite a lot these days. Even if: “More than half of Americans, 52%, now view Sarah Palin unfavorably, the highest percentage holding a negative opinion of the former Alaska governor in Gallup polling since Sen. John McCain tapped her as the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee. Her 40% favorable rating ties her lowest favorable score, recorded just over a year ago.”)
The media reports here do not say that Bristol’s younger sister Willow has actually apologized herself for her recent homophobic and other slurs on Facebook. But her older sister did it for her. Bristol wrote: “Willow and I shouldn’t have reacted to negative comments about our family. We apologize.” (Btw, note that Bristol added: “On a nicer note, thank you for supporting the great competition in ‘Dancing with the Stars’!” There have not been any “organized vote-getting tactics to keep Bristol on,” but …)
Moreover, Willow is not quite as chubby as Bristol. And something about the photos of her I’ve seen suggests she might be an even better dancer. From an article in the Vancouver Sun a few weeks ago I also discovered that “Dancing With The Stars” has UK roots. (Which helps explain the starchy and demanding head judge Len — a very UK guy). And there is much in the public persona of Kate Middleton to suggest that she may be an absolutely fabulous dancer (especially if Bristol Palin is the benchmark, etc).
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So … all of Kate Middleton (and her younger sister Pippa, for that matter) and Bristol Palin and her younger sister Willow have things in common, all other appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. They are all young celebrities — or more exactly the children of celebrities or the soon-to-be in-law children of celebrities — whose public personae are being exploited by other forces, so to speak, for narrow political purposes. And, as best as I can make out, in the limit (as they say in calculus class) these narrow political purposes actually do have something to do with communism — and in my own view again far too much!
What I would finally suggest is that, next year, Kate Middleton and Willow Palin should both appear on “Dancing With The Stars.” (Though I think only Kate should get Derek Hough as her professional partner.) Like my conclusions immediately above, this may not seem to make a great deal of sense, at first glance. But, studied more closely, it is at least as logical as having “teen activist” Bristol Palin make it into the “Dancing With The Stars” finals, over entertainer (and much, much better dancer) Brandy Norwood.
And, as a kind of two-part coda: First, my distress over both annoying events of this past week was at least alleviated in some degree by the Thursday, November 18, 2010 contribution of Globe and Mail television columnist John Doyle: “Royal wedding fatigue has already begun … Don’t know about you, but I’ve already got royal wedding fatigue … It set in around 4 p.m. on Tuesday, when CBC NN, bless its colonial soul, repeated for the umpteenth time a Brit TV interview with Prince William and Kate Middleton. By that time, I could recite his lines, but not mimic the la-di-da accent, about being on a trip to some place called “kin-yer” and popping the question. That’s what he said, right? I hesitate to tangle with the royal accent and vernacular, but I think he was talking about Kenya.”
Second, here is a truly alarming concept. According to a website called “ShowbizSpy,” also on Thursday, November 18, 2010: “it has been claimed that sexy Sarah will run for President if Bristol wins Dancing With the Stars … ‘If Bristol can get enough votes to win the mirror ball trophy, Sarah is convinced she can get enough votes to send her to the White House.’” (So … will Bristol actually even win, over the old Dirty Dancing movie star Jennifer Grey, who is an even better dancer than Brandy, aided and abetted by all those far-right-wing mobsters who respond to such cyberspace pleas as “Bristol needs our help”? All I can say for certain is that I won’t know, because I won’t be watching DWTS this coming Tuesday night — or Monday night either. Or certainly ever again if Bristol actually does win the coveted mirror ball trophy this year. That is one way of at least trying to fight back. As they used to teach us in Economics 101, the consumer is king, or queen, etc, etc, etc, etc.)