Thursday, November 11, 2010

Politics and Prizes: Are conservatives pushing Bristol, and if so, so what?

The successful run of Bristol Palin on ABC's Dancing With the Stars has caused reactions that run the gamut from delight in her success to vitriol at those awful right-wing conspirators to total indifference.  (Strangely, one person I know spends way too much time telling people that he doesn't care about things like this, which lead me to believe that he does care about things like this...)

I've written before about the haters, but now, in addition to their constant whines of "she's not a star" and various cheap shots and simply untrue statements about her character, some people have gotten it into their heads that Ms. Palin is the object of a large-scale conspiracy to cheat the system because all these Tea Partiers (I won't use their favorite term) are voting for her.

First of all, yes, there are definitely a lot of people who want to vote for Ms. Palin.  Yes, part of that, apparently, is something called "Operation Bristol", which seems to be spearheaded by online talk show host Tammy Bruce. She explained it in a recent tweet:


And in addition to "Operation Bristol", there are, in fact, a lot of other Sarah Palin fans who want to vote for her daughter, especially after the same hatred some directed at Sarah was directed at Bristol.  For both of these women, the amount of hatred some people have dished out is way, way out of proportion with their station in life.  (And yes, that was true even when Sarah Palin was governor of Alaska...some people--and I could name names, but I'm not gonna give them the attention they seem to so desperately want--threw everything in the book at her in the form of bogus ethics charges, nasty online rumors about her marriage or her fifth child, etc.  No one deserves that, even if they are a governor, or even a president.)  When I, and presumably others, see someone unfairly on the receiving end of that ugliness, we try to defend the one attacked.

Plus, Bristol is an underdog.  People love an underdog, unless they're blinded by partisan hate, and judging from the tweets every week when Bristol survives, a lot of people are so blinded. 

And, in my opinion, for what it's worth, Ms. Palin has shown a vast improvement in her dancing since this competition began.  But let's call a spade a spade.  A lot of people just like Bristol Palin, even if you don't.  (I've written about why that is the case here.)  And no amount of whiny tweets, whiny blog articles, or whatever else--such as this Tampa Tribune article linked by Free Republic (in which Bristol is unfairly characterized as having "stumbled her way through two dances" when in fact this week was her best week)--is going to keep me from voting for her.  (What will is a child wanting to vote for Kyle Massey because of having watched way too much Disney Channel.  But I digress.)

If you don't like that people are voting for Bristol, talk to ABC, which allows audience voting to determine half the score, or to Fox, which started the audience-determined reality competition craze in this country with American Idol.  They know that the audience voting is what keeps people watching, and occasionally the audience isn't going to vote for the judges' favorites.  Remember Kris Allen?  Steve Wozniak?  Sanjaya?

(Aside:  Firefox's spellchecker does not flag "Wozniak".  Somehow I'm not surprised.)

Besides, do you folks think that people are just stupid? Or that Bristol is somehow undeserving of public support because--gasp--she's related to a conservative?  Do you really think that accolades aren't given to people on the other side of the political spectrum, simply because they are on the other side of the political spectrum?

Take, for example, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, which has previously honored such comedy legends as Richard Pryor, Bob Newhart, and Bill Cosby.  To whom was this prestigious prize given this year?

Tina Fey.

Tina "I can see Russia from my house" Fey.

Really?

Tina Fey, while a talented writer, actor, and comedian, almost certainly got this award, along with a good portion of her name recognition, for impersonating one Sarah Palin, and for the damage that did to public perception of Governor Palin, who, as much as SNL-watchers might want to believe it, is not an idiot.  Other than that, Ms. Fey had a fairly nice career, but nothing to compare with last year's winner, Mr. Cosby.  Can you tell me that politics--specifically, left-wing politics--did not play a role in this?

Don't believe it?  The Washington Post seems to.  And so does Ms. Fey:

A lot of Sarah Palin in today's Style section. It was inevitable: First, there was Tina Fey, launched to zeitgeist heights by her Sarah Palin imitation, receiving the Mark Twain Prize, and of course it came up in her acceptance speach, as she "offered some mock hands-across-the-political-divide commentary," writes Paul Farhi.
The rise of conservative women in politics, [Fey] said pointedly, is good for all women, "unless you don't want to pay for your own rape kit . . . unless you're a lesbian who wants to get married to your partner of 20 years . . . [or] unless you believe in evolution." The lines played first to nervous laughter and then to not much laughter at all.

Or, if you like, we can go back a few years to when the Dixie Chicks won multiple Grammy Awards for their song "Not Ready to Make Nice", basically a collective thumbing of their noses at people who did not care for Natalie Maines's anti-Bush statements.  Given that the song did not receive a lot of airplay on many country stations, it certainly didn't win because of a groundswell of support from radio listeners.

And, oh yeah, how about last year's Nobel Peace Prize?  You might recall that it was awarded to President Obama, partially because, as Thorbjørn Jagland put it, "no one could deny that 'the international climate' had suddenly improved, and that Mr. Obama was the main reason."  In layman's terms, President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize because he was not George W. Bush.

These three examples are just the first ones that came to mind.  I could find more.  A lot more, I'd bet.

So, yeah, at least part of Bristol Palin's success on Dancing With the Stars is political.  But don't ever tell me that the other side doesn't do this too.  And don't complain because our side is doing it back.
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