Will Fans Stop Watching DWTS Because Of Chaz Bono?
It's like clockwork. The Dancing With the Stars cast is announced and, immediately, fans start to complain. “This cast is lame. I don’t want to watch such-and-such. Such-and-such is NOT a star. I am going to boycott.” And the ratings inevitably go up. Sorry, but it's true.
Viewers didn't stop watching for Tom DeLay. Or Kate Gosselin. Or Bristol Palin. It remains to be seen if they’ll protest enough to stop watching DWTS Season 13 for any of the stars, but the official “controversial” contestant baton has definitely been passed to Chaz Bono.
As Mediaite noted, ABC's official DWTS site is flooded with angry comments from viewers who don't want to see Sonny and Cher's only child Chaz — who was born a woman but legally changed genders and is now living as a man. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has officially praised the inclusion of Chaz as the first transgender contestant, as well as openly gay Queer Eye for the Straight Guy style guru Carson Kressley, saying the show has “created prime-time firsts that reflect the growing acceptance of gay and transgendered people in America today.”
However, some fans take issue not only with Chaz's lifestyle choice, but his large size. To quote a couple of hate-filled posts on the official DWTS site:
• “Bono??????????????? What's next, Zabba the Hutt [sic]????? Bono still has female genatilia [sic], so will it dance with a man? Or will you force some woman to dance with it? Fat, disgusting, part he, part she, slob!”
• “First, can you, ABC, stop referring to Chastity Bono as ‘him’? No amount of surgery can change you from one sex to another without changing all your internal organs. She can change her legal name, but she is still a woman despite all of the surgical add-ons. Putting a North Star engine in a Volkswagen does not make it a Cadillac. It stinks that this is supposed to be a family show and yet viewers are being subjected to views of the station so that it appeals to the homosexual community to garner their buck. Those who are straight are being called bigots because we do not agree with that lifestyle and want to give our children the correct upbringing with the correct morals and understanding of what life is about. We are called homophobes when we teach the Bible and what it stands for to our children and teach them that this kind of lifestyle is wrong. Broadcasters no longer care about morality. Case in point is how many shows do you see exhorting Christian values, yet the shows that do not are unlimited.”
Many fans have vowed to not watch this season. However, some fans have defended Chaz and said they will watch him and the other contestants dance.
• “ABC should be commended for offering a rich and diverse group of ‘people’ for viewers to watch on their shows. I am sure Bono is used to judgement and criticism. Maybe all you haters should ask Fox to mirror a dancing competition hosted by Bill O'Reilly that features a bunch of pasty white people. That should make you all happy.”
• “What do you think? Let him dance - no explanations necessary for 7-9 year olds. They will just see him as another contestant - it is the parents that will need to keep remarks to themselves. Kids will understand soon enough in this life what's what. I, for one, will continue to watch - he has been on enough shows to make him a very well known figure - just not because of his parents. I, for one, have not ‘walked that mile in his shoes.’”
Is it considered progress that no one is batting an eye about Carson? Lance Bass was the first openly gay contestant and it didn’t cause much fuss when he danced on Season 7. Pro dancer Louis Van Amstel is openly gay and fans adore him. (We’ll miss you this season, Louis!) That’s already a step ahead of American Idol, where contestants rarely dare to reveal their sexuality, probably in fear of losing votes.