As you my loyal fans may know, I have really bad taste in television. I love to watch the worst, most brain dead stuff. Now that Iâm pregnant, itâs gotten worse. Iâm the only person in the world excited to see the new Adam Sandler movie, Jack and Jill. I have not gone so far as to savor the NBC show Whitney, but give me time because I am sure that it will grow on me. The fact that I keep trying scares me.
I love to watch ABCâs “Dancing with the Stars.” I love the pomp, the circumstance the fact that the show is like a bunch of activists from GLAAD playing a practical joke on straight men. These straight male stars dress in poncy costumes and nance around the stage while gay men who are the judges tell them that they need to be âmore masculineâ âlike a panther on the huntâ and âact more like a manâ (wtf???) I mean, what other show would have Nancy Graceâs boob popping out of her costume on national television? Hilarious!
However, one thing about this show has stuck in my craw a little bit this year. The judges on Dancing with the Stars and I seem to have different definitions of what a hero is. They say it is heroic to have started gender reassignment surgery and appear on national television. I say it is brave to do that but it is heroic to have served as a soldier, had your face blown off in Iraq and then appear on national television.
Let me back up a bit: I love that Chaz Bono is on the show. In case you are really good at avoiding pop culture, Chaz Bono is Cherâs son. He used to be Chastity Bono who was Cherâs daughter until he underwent partial gender reassignment surgery and is in process of becoming a female to male transgender. He seems like a sweet man. He seems like anyone would seem if you grew up as Cherâs child: overwhelmed, a little depressed, very henpecked and very pessimistic. Anyone who goes out there on national television and does something theyâre not good at is brave. Chaz not only has absolutely no talent for dancing and is incredibly unathletic but has an entirely new body and raging hormones that are making him go girl crazy. The combination has made for some very uncomfortable looking dances: to say that Chazâs movements are a bit stiff is an understatement. Chazâs movements remind the DWTS
viewer of Frankenstein but only after the monster has been sitting on a plane for sixteen hours. In coach!
Military Hero - JR Martinez
The judges have been laying it on thick about how âheroicâ Chaz is as a person, saying things like, âChaz, you are my heroâ and âWhen I see you dance, something inside of me is touched so deeplyâ to the standing ovations of the crowd. Iâm glad that Chaz was getting all of those good strokes: as Cherâs child you know there were not many of those coming his way. Â However, there is another contestant, JR Martinez, who has had his share of adversity to: he sort of challenges the DWTS judgeâs definition of a hero. He was a soldier who served in Iraq. He drove a Humvee one day and it hit a landmine and he sustained smoke inhalation and burns over 40% of his body. I cannot imagine the incredible pain of that, but it gets worse: his face was blown off. He has to draw on his left eyebrow. One of his ears is missing and the burn scars on his face will never go away. That was seven years ago, so the accident happened when he was 21: imagine not having your face from the time you were 21. He is the pluckiest guy youâd ever see: he is happy and optimistic and energetic. He is such an amazingly optimistic person you forget about what he looks like within the first minute of seeing him. It even looks like his hot dancing partner, Karina Smirnoff is falling in love with him: usually sheâs dead-fish cold with her partners, but she really is tender with him. Maybe Iâm just projecting. Not only that, he has serious dancing talent and an infectious joy of life that makes him fun to watch. He is the very embodiment of a hero no matter how a person would define the term. Yet, the DWTS judges rarely make reference to JR being a hero or possessing the quality that they call bravery.
ABC's Hit Show
The point about all of this is that Dancing with the Stars, which is the number one show on television right now reflects our culture and our attitudes. Itâs a good reflection of our society that someone such as Chaz is getting national acceptance. However, I find it a striking omission that JR is not getting the strokes that he should be getting for his heroism.
It reflects the modern American phenomenon of totally misplaced affection, gratitude and worship. In both of these circumstances, the use of the word hero is trivialized. A deeper problem is that ides of myth, legend and story hold a societyâs culture together. The concept of the hero is central to these. By misapplying the hero label and refraining from using it when needed takes our culture in the wrong direction.
I hope we can recover the sense of propriety about who we call a hero and what they did to be considered brave before itâs too late. A society without real heroes can be lost really fast.