Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Affirmative Action: Conservative Style

You want to see an example of how conservatives play the affirmative action game, look no further than Bristol Palin's continued presence on Dancing with the Stars.

It is abundantly clear that, on the actual merits of dancing, Bristol is clearly inferior to many of the other contestants. Even Bristol acknowledges that her continued success on the show is not because she is more talented than the others who get bumped, but because she essentially tries hard and has shown improvement in performance:

Bristol Palin, 20, says voters support her despite lackluster performances "because I started with no experience in dancing or performing at all, and I've come a long way."

"People do connect with me because they think I'm real and I'm not typical Hollywood," she said.
And even that's a bit of a stretch, as anyone who looks at it honestly knows precisely what's going on: Bristol is still on the show for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with dancing skill at any level.

And that's fine. If Dancing with the Stars is really a popularity contest irrespective of actual merits as a dancer, then let's just be up front about it. But pretending that Bristol is earning her place because of her dancing skills is just dishonest. For some conservatives, it's got to be embarrassing for this charade to continue, because it puts the lie to the conservative expectation that objective merit and skill should determine rewards as opposed to a particular kind of celebrity. Bristol is getting special treatment by viewers not because of her abilities, but purely because of who she is.

I'm pretty certain that if admissions committees at law schools were admitting certain people because their LSATs had improved incrementally over multiple testing periods, but whose best score was still 20 points below the average of all other admitted students, one would have to assume that a kind of special privilege that has little to do with performance or merit indicators is being afforded to such people. And I'm also pretty sure that conservatives would be up in arms about this.


eric said...

I'm pretty sure that when we are using reality tv shows to measure the moral depth of our culture, we've already lost the battle.

A snobby cultural elitist

Huck said...

Heh! You're right at one level, Eric; but, sadly and tragically, the moral depth of our culture is measured by reality shows by a huge swath of American citizens. I've never understood the appeal of these shows, but isn't it clear that the culture wars are being explicitly played out in them?

eric said...

"isn't it clear that the culture wars are being explicitly played out in them?"

I honestly don't keep up w/ them enough to know if it is clear or not. Judging from my facebook feed, the hardcore social conservatives I know don't have many good things to say about Bristol Palin's appearance on there, or pretty much anywhere she pops up. That's about the only metric I have to go by!