Mark S. King

Dancing Away the Sins of the Mother

Filed By Mark S. King | November 16, 2010 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: Bristol Palin, Dancing With The Stars, sins of the mother

In the end, it doesn't matter if Bristol Palin is eliminated tonight on Dancing with the Stars or if she goes on to win the mirrored ball trophy. She has already done something amazing: she made me forget who her mother is. Or more precisely, what her mother means to the politically passionate.

Thumbnail image for Bristol.jpgLike most of us, I rolled my eyes at the thought of my favorite show being invaded by this hypocritical unmarried teenage rightwing Republican puppet (how many of those hot-button adjectives did I simply import from my opinion of her mother?). But Bristol has won my respect and even affection.

She did it by simply behaving humanly, something my partisan posture didn't quite expect. She has tried her best, taken success and failure with equal grace, misses her kid and her friends back home and yes, loves her Mom. I can relate to that. I like her.

Bristol 2.jpgBristol made mistakes, got pregnant by the only boy she's slept with, been thrust into a blazing political circus not of her own design, and yes, has allowed herself to become the spokesperson for the questionable safer sex strategy of abstinence. But the woman is 20 years old. She has plenty of time to carve out her own life views and values. At her age I was a stoned part-time theater major, for crying out loud.

Sarah Palin has provided the occasional cringe by showing up in the studio, but I can't hold that against Bristol any more than I blame Kelly Osbourne for having a drug addict vampire bat-eater as a father (no wonder Kelly is an outspoken member of the Bristol fan club).

Last night the show highlighted the various life challenges each of the remaining contestants have faced, and I realized during her video package how deeply I have come to admire Bristol. I watched a very poised young lady respond gracefully to early, unwelcome attention, and then today facing the physical and mental challenge of the dancing competition.

I say this with great trepidation, but might Bristol Palin be the result of good parenting...?

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Benjamin Lap | November 16, 2010 9:22 AM

I agree with your begrudging admiration for Bristol, but, as to your conclusion, surely there must be another explanation.

Maybe editing and a corporate will to develop her as a media personality had just an eensy-teensy bit to do with it as well? I feel bad for the participants who were booted off before her... more to the point, she's a truly atrocious dancer.

I haven't really watched this year - just because she was on the show. I don't want to give the Palins any more exposure than they're already getting.

What separates us from the lower animals is NOT the Opposable Thumbs, or our uncanny ability to accessorize (as so many drag qweens would have us believe), but our ability to see things from another person's place in the world.

I think, in many ways, Sarah Palin was a good mother. But, when it came to discussing Sex with her Daughter(s), she was a Dismal Failure. To present Abstinence as the Only Viable "Birth Control" method is Sheer Lunacy. Sarah Put her Party's Talking Point AHEAD of making her Young Adult Daughter Well Informed. Only by BEING Well Informed can we make quality life choices. I HOPE Sarah is a better mother to her younger daughter than she was to Bristol.

As for Bristol, It's not the "Hand we are Dealt" that matters, it's how we Play It. So far, i believe she's playing her hand well. She has conducted herself with Class and Dignity. I believe these qualities must come from "TAAHDD'S" Side. Perhaps Bristol could teach her mom a thing or two about Class, Dignity and Decorum.

I'm Just Sayin'

This might change your mind about the "good parenting":

At any rate, why are we concerned with whether or not Palin is a good parent? Isn't the fact that her brand of politics is metaphorically and literally toxic (think of her lack of concern for the environment, the poor, people of colour etc.) enough for us to judge her by? I'm sure both sets of Bush parents were "good" by some standards, as were the Reagans, the Clintons etc. (though some facts might dispute all that). But every one of those families has also given us lousy economic policies that furthered the disaster that we can now barely begin to acknowledge.

Caring about how Bristol conducts herself is buying into her profitable p.r machine. She's not stupid - she knows how to get herself onto mainstream shows and tabloids and is doubtless profiting from that. As far as we can tell, she loves the blazing publicity. If she didn't, she wouldn't announce her short-lived re-engagement on the cover of People. She would, instead, have simply subsided into the background.

As for her politics? What you correctly point out as her hypocrisy causes tremendous damage to organising efforts around abortion rights and the right to sex education(and I should add that we have no proof that Todd was the only guy she slept with - let's not buy into the Palin P.R machine's confabulations. I only bring up this point because it's part of the hypocritical slut/angel dichotomy that her narrative buys into). It causes tremendous real and physical harm to millions of young girls and women by decreasing the chances that they will have safe and reasonable access to sex ed and/or abortion rights.

Let's hold people responsible for their politics instead of getting swept up into the emotional and affective responses they try to evoke in us. Bristol Palin is not some cute young naif struggling to find her way in the forest of a media frenzy. She knows exactly how to feed that frenzy and is completely in control of her message - and that of her mother. This is just part of the family business.

"Bristol Palin is not some cute young naif struggling to find her way in the forest of a media frenzy. She knows exactly how to feed that frenzy and is completely in control of her message - and that of her mother."

Okay, now, you're scaring me. Since when did Sarah Palin start birthing fully formed, evil media savants, ready to "control" the message (as if anyone in this electronic society ever really can)?

Three years ago no one knew this family or this girl. Last year Bristol was working as a receptionist. And now she's Queen of all Media, ruling with an iron fist?

You sound like a nice woman and you're obviously very smart. But I don't want to live in your world.

What I've written above is hardly a description of her as "queen of all media ruling with an iron fist." But...I'm simply pointing out that Bristol Palin *is* a creature of the media circus, and she's hardly an unwitting pawn in all of it - contrary to what you write about her in your OP. That's hardly saying she's an evil media savant, it's asking you to acknowledge the reality of the Palins, which is quite different from what you describe. Controlling her message does not mean she controls the media - in fact, these days, given the stakes in celebrity, even the briefest celebrity is likely to employ a handler of some sort.

And my larger point is about the Palins and their politics and the need to acknowledge that there are, indeed, some frightening politics behind all this that should not be ignored in the whole "she's just a simple girl who's been pushed into the limelight" riff. You've ignored that point, and not very adroitly, I might add. Spinning my words about some pretty basic evidence to the contrary (um, People mag? You don't get on there by accident) into some hysterical, over-the-top paranoid narrative only proves the flimsiness of your claims.