Thursday, April 2, 2009

Dancing with the Woz

I do not watch Dancing with the Stars. I mostly steer clear of reality/competition programming, though I will admit that I have been watching So You Think You Can Dance the past three summers. Anyway, though I don't watch Dancing with the Stars, I am generally aware of any particularly notable happenings on the show (e.g., there have been a surprising number of injuries this season). So I know that Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, was a contestant this season. And I know he was supposed to be a pretty bad dancer. On Monday, as I flipped through the channels trying to find something suitable for my housemate to watch before I left the room (I know my own TV show schedule, so I usually don't need to channel surf), I came across Steve Wozniak performing on Dancing with the Stars. And thus I saw his dancing for myself. Yes, it was kind of sad. I felt bad for his partner (How do they decide which dancer gets paired with which star? How did my sweet SYTYCD gal Lacey Schwimmer get stuck with Steve-O?")

As it turns out, The Woz got voted off the show on Tuesday night. Considering that from the beginning he had consistently received the worst marks from the judges, it was impressive that he had already survived two rounds of elimination. How did he last that long? On Dancing with the Stars, the judges' grades are combined with call-in votes to determine who will get kicked off each week. And despite Wozniak's extremely low scores from the judges, for the first two weeks he received enough viewer votes to keep him in the game. So who was voting for him and his poor attempts at dancing? The geeks, of course!

People commenting on Dancing with the Stars this season have not hesitated to attribute Wozniak's success to the "geeks." CNN reported, "What he lacks in technique, Steve Wozniak makes up for in geeks" ( I haven't been following the story on very many news outlets, but I found that IMDb has also made free use of the term (March 25, March 31, April 1). I suppose that as a geek I might find some pride in the geeks' ability to band together and collectively support and sustain a hopeless contestant in a popular reality contest (Dancing was the third most watched show of last week, with a 12.9/19 rating). But that's not where I'm going with this. Instead, I have taken issue with this branding. Granted, I am only very, very mildly miffed. But here's why.

I am a geek. A huge geek, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. But I have not been voting for The Woz. Why would I? I feel no particular allegiance to him. Half of the time I'm at work I use a Mac, and I use iTunes, but that doesn't make me feel any connection to him. I guess some of the idea may be that a geek would vote for Wozniak just to support a fellow geek. But that would require a hardcore computer nerd, not a computer game-playing, fantasy-reading, sci-fi-watching geek. Basically, I think "geeks" is too broad a category for the people voting for Steve Wozniak. Shawn Johnson, another contestant on Dancing this season, would not be said to be receiving the "jock" vote. But I bet she is getting votes from gymnastics fans. Perhaps it would be appropriate, then, to say that Steve Wozniak is getting votes from Apple fans.

Who, if the Mac commercials are to be believed, are decidedly not geeks. No, PCs are for geeks. Mac enthusiasts are the cool Justin Longs of the world (which is sort of funny because Justin Long's first screen role, and thus the one that I will always remember him for, was as the super nerdy fan in Galaxy Quest). If Apple fans are so cool and normal, why are they rallying for the nerd who can't dance? Answer that, Mac Geniuses.

So maybe this isn't the most logical argument I've ever presented. But I did say that I was only mildly miffed; I can't justify being outright offended. I'll just end this with my suggestion of what the Dancing with the Stars producers should do if they really want geeks to watch their show and call in votes. Two words:

Summer. Glau.


Sebastian said...

You know, I think someone like Mike Myers might get an awful lot of geek votes...

Sorry, I'm tired, I should've waited until tomorrow to respond properly...

I'll give you this one as a 'freebie'...

Mmm, Summer Glau.

Eleni said...

Oh Mike Myers. He's not what he once was (See: The Love Guru. Well, don't actually see it, just... glance at it and take note). Hopefully his upcoming projects will help him back up after his fall from grace last year.