Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Red Carpet Ice Rink Lineup

Once in awhile I allow myself an off-cinema spin here. This is a spin followed by a triple sow cow double toe loop triple axel death spiral! I have no idea if those things go together. I've just been watching too much Olympic figure skating. But never fear, I do have a few movie-referencey things to say. So let's talk figure skating, evil costumes and showmanship or: why Johnny Weir is king or at least princess of the sport... Royal Highness is what I'm saying.

If you watched the men's short program last night, you have to read Joe & AB Chao's hilarious live blog. But, if you didn't, some costume gazing:


From left to right we have Japan's Noburani Oda (#4), Russia's Evgeni Plushenko (#1), Switzerland's Stephane Lambiel (#5), Japan's Daisuke Takahahsi (#3), and Canada's Patrick Chan (#7). You are not actually required to wear black to compete but apparently you can't make it to medal contention without it. It makes your lines on the ice cleaner or something... very photogenic. Black and white movies still look sensational for a reason, you know.

These costumes are so modern superhero. I feel its time to share my theory that the unacknowledged patron saint of male figure skating is actually a Canadian. I'm talking about Jean-Paul Beaubier aka Alpha Flight's elf/mutant Northstar. He was even a star athlete before superhero-ing (albeit a skier instead of a skater). Basically if you're going to compete at the highest level of skating you have to work a certain costume equation and I think it's something like


The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari + Northstar x Edward Scissorhands ÷ The Dark Crystal (the latter because you have to harness some mythical sparkly powers. Little known fact: that missing shard that caused the Skeksis so much trouble has been crushed and reconfigured in mosaic form on thousands of show costumes since 1982!).

The braver figure skaters will use the Bluefly accessories wall thoughtfully allow other inspirational elements into their costume mix including but not limited to scraps and patterns pulled from the wardrobes of bullfighters, Liza Minnelli, 70s sci-fi movies and Janet Jackson's Rhthym Nation. I woulda said Lady Gaga but that'll take awhile to filter down into Olympic sportswear.

But back to Northstar. He's a tasty hunk o' mutant but he'll never be transferred to the movies like the other X-Men because he's gay. Which brings me to the unruly hilarious prince(ss) of figure skating, USA's Johnny Weir (a lowly #6 but the score should have been way higher) and his arch-nemesis, Evan Lysacek (#2). Basically Johnny is giving everyone who worries about figure skating being too femme the hot pink middle finger. With a corset no less. So funny.


Mysteriously, humorless Lysacek gets a big name designer (Vera Wang) for his duds. He provides the perma-scowl, bronzer and self-regard. She imagines him as the Dark Sith Lord of skating... with feathers!

It's continually clear that the greater sports world and the mainstream channels which televise their competitions still aren't comfortable with gay athletes (I realize that Weir doesn't directly address this but whatever). But it's particularly galling in the figure skating world which is totally a 'lady who doth protest too much', if you know what I'm saying. So Evan ("Hetero... Thank God!" you can practically hear the talking heads whispering) is showered with unconditional compliments while Weir generally gets droplets of praise in a backhanded sort of way. So bless Weir for continually sticking it to them with panache, diva disregard for their delicate (read: homophobic) feelings, and good humor... plus hot pink tassels, hip swivels and air kisses. I'm not a fan of his fur-wearing antics but with divas, there's always a whole package. You can't take the parts separately. It's love them or hate them. I love him. Or should I say Я люблю его



I hope you've been watching the Sundance Channel's Johnny Be Good reality show. Weir is just what the Olympics need: curveball entertainment. You have to have some performers who aren't easily shoehorned into those soft focus 'triumph of the human spirit' puff pieces, you know? Man cannot live on one (formulaic) flavor alone.

Have you been watching the Olympics and will you be watching the men's skating finale tomorrow (READ: TONIGHT)? Speak up.
*

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love Johnny, but I think his score is fair. At least his placement is definately fair.

His musical interpretation is aces, but under the new scoring, that only makes up one of five components in the composition score. He suffers in the same area that Pleshenko does, and that's his transitions. He had virtually no transitions, and despite being an artisitc skater, his footwork was outclassed by everyone above him, barring Plushenko. You can almost tell exactly when he's planning to do a jump, and the judges don't like that.

Considering that he didn't have a quadruple jump in his routine, which is worth 7 points, and Plushenko did, and Plushenko was seven points ahead, I'd say the scoring was definately fair.

- Adam

Christine said...

Weir got screwed in the judging, no doubt about it. I'm just hoping that since he's pretty much out of the medals now he will do his "Poker Face" routine in the long program.

God, I love the Olympics. So much drama.

Tikabelle said...

I don't know about figure skating scoring or the new system like Adam obviously does (nice work, btw!), but I did think that Johnny's routine was off musically. There were elements that were obviously supposed to go with music that were a beat or 2 behind - it was just a smidgen off for me in a way that Evan's wasn't.

That being said, I absolutely agree with what you're saying about gay sportsmen and trying to shoehorn male athletes especially into a specific societal role. It's a different aspect of sexism that we as a culture have yet to address. I'll be watching the free routines but probably not until Friday afternoon because of school. On another note, I'm thrilled with NBC's commentary-free videos of the Olympics on their website. It's so nice to be able to judge for myself instead of wishing the talking network people would stfu!

WickedScorp said...

It was a terribly boring competition; yawn-inducing programs all around. In regards to the costumes, enough already. It just gets tackier and more embarrassing with each passing year. Ultimately, the flashier the costume, the more the skater is trying to detract from their abilities and lack thereof. I agree that Johnny was underscored if you take Plushenko's diarrhea on ice into account. Hopefully the long program has a bit more verve but having seen most of the free skates earlier in the year... whatever, who cares, on with the ladies competition.

rosengje said...

I think Weir's score was fair for the reasons that Adam lists, but I felt very uncomfortable listening to the commentary. There seemed to be this sense that they were relieved he was able to skate like a "normal" person despite his flamboyant personality.

Anonymous said...

Fuck ya! I hope one of the top three competitors goes down and Weir skates a great long program, and takes a medal. I love how unapologetic he is. He may not be the best skater, but I think he's damn entertaining.

John T said...

I think he should have gotten a slightly better score (maybe 4th or 5th), but my biggest problem with this Olympics has been the rampant homophobia in the figure skating (men's) competitions. Seriously, all three announcers (Scott Hamilton especially) were praising Weir through gritted teeth, all but saying, "we want to cheer, but he's so queer, so we won't." It was terrible, particularly considering that men's figure skating is definitely, to quote Nathaniel, the lady that doth protest too much.

Kyle said...

That Conrad Veidt sure was ahead of his time. Look at the Caligari picture as the Sonambulist...like something out of a My Chemical Romance video (or another equivalent).

Anonymous said...

I just think Oda is cute as a button, just want to pick him up and put it in my pocket:)

Frechen said...

I do think Weir's score was fair--particularly if you check out the expanded scores on the NBC Olympics Web site.

I suppose I'm more of a Lambiel kinda guy. His artistry is unmatched.

Rebecca said...

I thought Weir was scored a bit low. I loved his routine, especially the kisses he blew at the end.

The other american, that Evan guy, was snoozeville. I did like the 3rd placed skater, Daisuke Takahashi. I thought he was the only one who came close to Johnny Weir in terms of style/artistry.

NATHANIEL R said...

Rebecca, yeah. I liked him too. And with the outfit / hair he could either slip off to a career in bullfighting or Elvis impersonation should this skating thing not work out.

Frechen -- i love Lambiel too. Those spins are just gorgeousness. I've never seen their like in men's skating.

John T -- ugh, Scott Hamilton is the worst.

Deborah said...

I love them both but there's no doubt that Evan laid down a far better performance. A godly performance, truly; everything I love about figure skating (and I've been blogging about it for a long time).

Evan is a GOD of ice-skating, and I so love the media buzz over the Evan/Johnny rivalry. Clearly this is not gay vs. straight but twink vs. butch. No way is Evan straight!

Johnny's pink laced corset and Evan's feathered wristlets were wild, but for costumes, I love the Japanese skater who dressed like, and skated to, Jimi Hendrix.

billybil said...

Yes - I loved how unapologetic and bold Johnny was - so funny - and so entertaining. My family and I just sat and giggled and cheered for him (my daughter said - why the corset and I just had to laugh!!)

I can't help myself - the artistic side of these events just takes so much more precedence for me over the technique. I'm glad there are people out there like Anonymous who can appreciate the specific accomplishments of the skaters and help make sense of the scoring but I just love me some interpretive skating! That's actually where I thought the Asian in third was special! (Of course, he's really handsome too!)

Evan disappointed me, actually - his skating was very impressive but it wasn't emotionally stirring for me, and Plushenko - forget about it. He should be glad he has that quad because otherwise...meh (and I could see what Anonymous meant about poor transitions with Plushenko!!). Truthfully it does seem to me that the 2 leaders seem the best at the physical "sport" of skating and so the scores are, I'm sure, quite appropriate.

Also, how about that short blond guy who skated - I wish i could remember his name or at least his country - he was so cute! Actually, there were a couple really attractive guys. I like when they wear "pants" with belts when they skate. I like stretch pants like that on skater bodies.

And what did you think about the Italian wearing overalls?!?!? Was that weird or what? I liked that he was so out there - but the family didn't so much.

But that short, butch blond...he didn't skate that well but...oh baby!!

NATHANIEL R said...

Billybil -- so you'll be watching tonight i take it.

i love hearing your daughter's reaction. ha.

Deborah -- oh i appreciate Evan's skating, don't get me wrong. I just hate the disparity in the way the media treats him versus Weir. And I agree with Billybil that i like interpretation more than technique. Maybe because I don't fully understand the technical aspects but it gets boring to watch several performances in a row if the skaters are only working the technical aspects. It all starts to look the same.

Marsha Mason said...

I was watching figure skating the other night, but I (like most watchign, I'm sure) don't know anything about it.

Is it bad I root for them all to fall on their asses? I mean, it's zero-sum, right?

billybil said...

Shame on you Marsha - you wicked little imp!

Oh yes, Nate - I will be watching tonight along with the clan.

It was kind of sweet - my daughter (who's 16!!!) and her best friend (girl) went to see Valentine's Day and they were so angry that the 2 guys didn't kiss at the end! I'm so proud of her! (But she still can't quite figure out why the corset! Some things are just so subtle even when they're not, huh? :-)

Marsha Mason said...

I just can't help it.

John T said...

billy-I think you were talking about Bourdelin.

For me, though, it's all about the Joubert. (sigh)

Cal said...

Weir's skate was fun. Can't wait for the Free tonight. I'm cheering for Takahashi!

WickedScorp said...

People don't dislike Weir because he's gay but because he's a narcissistic jackass. It's really a shame because technically, he is a gorgeous skater but he lets his overwrought personality and ego overshadow his skating. In competition, he just needs to get out there, give a solid performance and save the bullshit for exhibition.

Alexa said...

I love Johnny. I wish more would take figure skating down a meaningful (i.e. individualistic) road too, instead of just quads and boredom.

NATHANIEL R said...

WickedScorp -- someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning!

Cal -- i want a medal combo involving Weir, Lambiel and whomever cuz a big shakeup would be awesome. Not that the top 2 are both going to fall on their asses -- however much that would delight Marsha.

Mrs. Scott Thorson said...

Weir is Liberace on ice. And she can't even play "Stardust." You like this vagina so much, Nathaniel? Maybe you're a trans lesbian.

NATHANIEL R said...

maybe. I love the unapologetic girlyboys. It takes all kinds!

Anonymous said...

Nat will you watch the ladies? One of them, Yu-Na Kim, will skate to James Bond theme. It's a killer performance in every way. XD

Chris Na Taraja said...

You are hysterical!! I am watching the mens' skating right now. I turned down an invitation to see AVATAR (which i haven't seen yet!) to see the skating! Love lvoe love Johnny

Jim T said...

I don't know much about figure skating since I'm not a big fun but because of this post I watched Weir, Evan and the guy who got the highest score. By opinion stands that it's kind of boring since they pretty much have to do the same things (spin, dug and spin again etc) over and over again but I did enjoy Weir's Poker Face. Oh and, Evan is hot!

It's really ridiculous to feel weird about Weir (his name is not the cause :p) when the whole audience seems to accept him completely.

Jim T said...

Replace dug with duck. Sorry

Anonymous said...

on long program.....
Johnny should have gotten third! he got f-ing SIXTH!!! I understand that he didn't have a quad...but did the guy who took third have one? He was bellow almost everybody...even though some of others tripped badly and wasn't he under them as well? I'd understand
(...kinda?) if he was 4th. I really think that some of the judges just don't like the fact that hes gay. I also understand that Evan was really good, and OMG he is gorgeous...but i think Plushenko should have won. It's Not because i favor him or anything. His performance just oozed russian...ness and I could feel his GINORMOUS ego trying to envelop me through my TV (not that i didnt the whole thing, especially the PELVIC THRUSTS!!!!)
but after landing so many quads(and if I'm not mistaken) that were all followed by a tipple or two his score should have been higher. and Losing by one point or at all....the man almost crapped himself you could see it in his face, as well as Evan's(amazingly hunky one.)

Frechen said...

I don't think it's *at all* justified to play the gay card here.

If you look at the expanded judges' scores, Weir actually scored decently high in his technical elements--save one spin that he had executed poorly and his opening triple jump. However, his program components scores (which are worth more in the free skate than in the short program) are quite low compared to his competition. He was scored particularly low for his lack of transitions between the elements.

NATHANIEL R said...

but what does that even mean... transitions?

and if he scored well technically but didn't score well overall please don't tell me they're knocking his artistry... or don't you get scored for that anymore?

Ugh, i hate scoring systems.