Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chaz Bono in Dancing with the Stars

A recent Huffington Post article announced that Dancing with the Stars has accepted its first transgender contestant ever: Chaz Bono. For those who don't know, Bono, the child of singers Sonny and Cher, is a "female-to-male transgender man" described by Wikipedia as "an American transgender advocate, writer, actor, and musician."

For the producers of the show, this is a bold move--intrudocing a transgendered sexuality into a show which has predominantly focused on the sexual tensions between male and female dancers. The show's producer, Conrad Green, declared that the show is "always looking to introduce viewers to new stories and perspectives"-- an idea that is coincidentally very similar to Felski's ideas of bi-textuality. This has interesting implications for the canon, suggesting not only the necessity of a "bi-textuality," but also a "multi-textuality" that extends beyond simple male-female dichotomies to explore liturature that perceives gender and sexuality itself as fluid entities--an idea I'm sure will recur in our explorations of homosexual and trasgender literature.

The article notes that the show has received a lot of backlash for its decision, which promted Bono to respond, "You know, it just kind of shows why for me it's important to be on the show, because so little still is known about what it means to be transgender...And there's so many just completely inaccurate stereotypes and thoughts that people have." This seems very reminiscent of the feminist challenge to the male canon/patricarchy; however, here it is not male patriarchy that is threatened but heteronormativity. In light of class discussion on the perception of feminist "affirmative action," we can see the show's choice to accept Chaz as a contestant as a progressive, political move that challenges viewers to re-examine preconceived biases that some sexualities are inherently more valuable than others by forcing them to view sexuality through a new perspective.

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