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Bristol Palin Puts the Politics Into 'Dancing With the Stars' Finale

3 years ago
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Shooting your television because you don't like Bristol Palin on "Dancing With the Stars"?

Mailing threatening letters to Bristol with mysterious (but harmless) white powder?

The participation of "teen activist" (who is now 20, but whatever) Bristol Palin has propelled ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" from just another popular reality show into the political realm, with accusations of voting conspiracies and occasional appearances by the woman who got her there: the former Alaska governor, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee and the star of her own travelogue reality show on The Learning Channel, Sarah Palin.

But seriously, folks, this is not a contest to decide the leader of the greatest country in the free world. That happens in 2012 and likely involves Bristol's mom.

It's a dance competition. It's a dance competition in which half of each team is not even a professional dancer. It's a dance competition in which fans get a significant say -- via multiple votes on multiple platforms -- in who wins each and every week.

And as DWTS host Tom Bergeron pointed out on Twitter last week you can change the channel -- no one's making you watch.

For those of us intrigued by this season's show, and the season finale pitting Bristol and her pro-partner, Mark Ballas, against "Dirty Dancing" actress Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough and Disney star Kyle Massey and partner Lacey Schwimmer, well, read on.

Clearly, taking a chance on "Dancing With the Stars" is a huge win for Bristol. She's in the finals as a result of hard work, not just her mother's network casting about for votes. And that casting about for votes wouldn't have worked if Bristol displayed the sort of total ineptitude of, say, ESPN's Kenny Mayne or the physical inability to dance as demonstrated by Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Josie Moran, whose partner described her as "deceptively unfit."

Despite the occasional need for an obscenity "bleep," rehearsal footage portrays Bristol as earnest and hard-working. There's none of the whining and pouting that Kate Gosselin became known for last season, and virtually no tears, which virtually all women stars seem to dissolve into at some point.

That hard work in rehearsal -- "Staying focused on the 4 dances we have! Long hours at the dance studio, but wanted to send a quick thank you for all the supporters! :)" Bristol posted to her Facebook page Saturday -- has paid off. She is the most improved dancer on the show, and that's saying something.

The biggest issue Bristol has faced is her lack of entertainment skills. She definitely doesn't have her mother's charisma and perky demeanor. Her ill-fated monkey costume moment may have drawn praise from some of the judges in the taking-a-risk category, but it also proved a turning point in another way. Since then, the dances Bristol and Ballas have performed have taken a serious tone, no more attempts at smiling, happy frivolity for this girl.

Instead, it's been piercing eyes and a straight-faced demeanor, paired with dramatic black outfits designed to show off her legs, which judge Carrie Ann Inaba raved about the first week of competition.

Much has been made of allegations that Sarah Palin and her troops are somehow conspiring to ensure Bristol's victory. In an interview with Annie Barrett of Entertainment Weekly, DWTS executive producer Conrad Green defended the show's voting system.
It might appear that you can make up a thousand e-mail addresses and send them in, but we have a number of security checks in place that go over all of the internet votes before they're calculated. In this particular case, we can spot an IP address, and if one computer sends in a crazy amount of e-mail votes, we just discard them. These things can happen for any of our contestants. It's not like only Bristol's fans could do that. It could just as easily be happening for Jennifer's or for someone else's. But either way, those excessive votes are not being counted.
Perhaps the one external factor that could harm Bristol is potential backlash from the past week of media saturation. As Green points out, it would be just as easy for voters to mobilize against her on Monday. That backlash might not just be in response to her success on DWTS but to the Facebook brouhaha involving Bristol and her younger sister Willow.

As TMZ.com reported, the two lit into a young man who criticized their mom's new TLC show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska," with Bristol using a range of expletives and Willow tossing in a few gay slurs. Bristol apologized on Facebook, saying, "Willow and I shouldn't have reacted to negative comments about our family. We apologize. On a nicer note, thank you for supporting the great competition in Dancing With the Stars!"

And Bristol's response to the voting controversy carries a bit of her mother's thin-skinned defensiveness. "Thank you supporters who continue to support. The haters are already pulling out all the stops this week to destroy," she said on Facebook Wednesday, followed by this on Thursday: " 'May we always be happy, and may our enemies know it!' "

Another factor that potentially works against Bristol is the different organization of the finals. The three couples will compete as usual with fan voting Monday night. On Tuesday, one couple will be eliminated with the two others competing against each other with a final dance before the judges that will determine the winner of the Mirrorball Trophy.

Dallas Mavericks owner and former DWTS contestant Mark Cuban pointed out on his blog last week that the winner this season will come down to viewer votes. But in Las Vegas, the oddsmakers are betting on Grey and Hough to win it all.

Whether Bristol wins or loses, the attention she -- and her mom -- have brought to "Dancing With the Stars" will likely mean more political participants in the future. Former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's foot injury forced him to drop out of the competition last fall. But Bristol's success could mean a star turn for other politically connected participants.

Can you say Christine O'Donnell or Al Gore?
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65 Comments

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RobbTheFirst

Poor Bristol, she just doesn't understand, you win based on your performance. Or, at least that's the way it's supposed to work. Her performance was acceptable, and would've been almost outstanding.... in a high school musical. But, she simply doesn't have star quality. She seems to have a sense of entitlement.... She should win because she deserves it; or, she should win because she worked so hard at it. Well, dear Bristol, that doesn't work either. One person can work their butt off and give a lackluster performance while another breezes through it and delivers a spectacular performance. Needless to say, the spectacular performer wins. As for all those "haters" who want her to fail, well, that's a pretty unfounded assumption. I don't think anyone "hates" Bristol Palin. It's unfortunate she has this "victim" mentality, attributing every failure to others' "hate". It's unfortunate heredity and environment have left her with such negative belief patterns.

November 27 2010 at 12:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Willie

Ms. Fish you forgot to mention that Brandy is an entertainer by trade , maybe thats why she got voted off , this is supposed to be an amateur paired with a pro , Bristol is the amateur left

November 22 2010 at 2:26 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
CUBS FAN

Most programs are dependant on high ratings to survive. If it takes spotlighting a popular less talented person so be it.

November 22 2010 at 12:53 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to CUBS FAN's comment
tsiribas

No wonder you're a cubs fan. Wait a second, next year.

November 22 2010 at 3:00 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
ettu

Listening to the views of a couple of people on MSNBC, it is suggested this program is not necessarily about the "best" dancers (which can be read as the "trained" dancers), but it is about who is best liked aomongst the viewing voters. I do have to say, Sandra, your comment about Bristol, the "unwed mother," was not necessary, a bit juvenile, and certainly tacky.

November 22 2010 at 12:42 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ettu's comment
dc walker

...I agree, mentioning that she is an unwed mother is pathetic. Everyone who paid any attention to the presidential election knows the story. Is that what this girl IS?? At least she had the strength to give a child a chance at life instead of throwing her son in the garbage.

November 22 2010 at 9:17 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Rey

Blame the show for causing the uproar, knowing that Sarah Palin would be involved, and often. Notice how often the camera zeros in on her during the show? It's part of their ploy for ratings, even if the publicity is negative, because it keeps the show in the spotlight. Simple as that, although they may not have anticipated losing viewership. It was rather more of a gamble, which they may have lost, and might be sorry for next season. Sarah is the real celebrity, not Bristol, who is getting the attention soley by association. Had Sarah stepped back, Bristol probably would have been gone earlier in the season. So much for Show Biz!

November 22 2010 at 12:04 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
Gersh

I'm sure that Bristol Palin has indeed learned to dance. Myproblem is that the VOTERS for any star, vote their feelings. What I do not understand id the mechanics of the voting. It sems to me that there is little or no accountability. The fact that each night the staff od DWTS exhrt the voters to send in as many votes as possible. IMHO this is wromng. The judges are professional dancers. It would seem that if the judges make a determination, it should carry more eight than the public. Thsis a dance contest, not a popularity contest

November 22 2010 at 11:54 AM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
epleas1943

Her working hard has nothing to do with it, the fact that she's one of the worst dancers on the show, misses her moves in almost every dance she's done and not one time has she been harshly criticized by the judges like most of the other dancers have should speech volumes by itself!!!

November 22 2010 at 10:26 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
gingerpeaches

okay , Thank you Tom Bergeron for the suggestion to just change channels.. WILL DO ! ! ! !

November 22 2010 at 10:10 AM Report abuse +16 rate up rate down Reply
leapoppy

Well I think it's time to leave Bristol alone. I think she has done very well and has come a long way for not having any expeirance in acting or dancing. She isn't forcing people to vote for her so why take it out on her. Bristol you be proud of what you have done and don't let anyone get you down. You and Mark are a great team. So if people don't like it then go watch another channel.

November 22 2010 at 10:08 AM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
Pat

If your like me you don't have to worry about whose going to win, I don't care and don't watch the show and never have. Life is real enough for me without reality TV of any kind.

November 22 2010 at 10:03 AM Report abuse +11 rate up rate down Reply

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