Imagine, if you will, sitting around your radio, circa 1942.
Radio Announcer: “Chesterfield brings you the “Moonlight Serenade” with the Glenn Miller Orchestra. The cigarette that satisfies presents America’s No. 1 dance band with America’s No. 1 swing band leader, Glenn Miller!”
“Tonight, instead of “Moonlight Serenade,” “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” or “I’ve Got a Girl in Kalamazoo,” we’ve decided to bring you an anti-war medley of pacifist anthems and traditional German folk songs because we really wanted to do something that everyone can connect to, you know? Because, we’re all people, man, and no one’s pro-war, right? Who wants war?”
Nearly impossible to imagine because it just wouldn’t have happened.
But these days are different.
Last week, “So You Think You Can Dance”—a formerly refreshing, wholesome, entertaining American-Idol-style showcase of America’s best young dancers doing everything from the foxtrot to hip-hop—decided to shake its groove thang and its political agenda.
The No. 4 summer show in the Nielsen Ratings, “Dance’s” producers thought it was a great idea to get the show’s 10 finalists to perform an identical solo to an identical song, all in one two-hour spectacular.
Choreographer Wade Robson explained that if he were going to create something for every dancer on the stage. “It's gotta have some meaning. It's gotta have something that everyone can connect to,” he said.
So, what was this universally appealing and meaningful idea?
"It's about peace. It's about the war--anti-war. It's about peace.”
Ahem. Each of the 10 finalists donned a peace-sign t-shirt, and listened to Robson’s explanation of his art.
“Sometimes we don't know what we can do as individuals since we're not the ones in power. So what can we do to change things? One thing we can do as a younger generation is be the change that we want to see."
Each dancer picked a word such as “honesty,” “compassion,” or “equality” to stencil on the back of his or her shirt. They then learned Robson’s routine—a cloying, predictable parade of angst and impotence that said nothing beyond “war bad.” It featured prominent foot-stomping, one violent scream, and a defiant march toward center stage holding up a peace sign. It was performed to John Mayer’s Gen-Y do-nothing ode to loserdom, “Waiting on the World to Change.”
Appropriately enough, the song is also cloying and predictable in its angst and impotence and says nothing other than “world bad.”
A sample of the lyrics: