February 11, 2010

Mamma Mia

In a refreshing departure from the norm, the most bewildering thing to come out of Italy this month has nothing to do with Silvio Berlusconi; instead, it's a YouTube clip of former boxer Mike Tyson competing on the Italian version of Dancing With The Stars.

The clip is bizarre as much for the show's format as for Tyson's attempts at the jitterbug — mainly because the announcer speaks Italian with an American-English accent, and lapses into an odd sort of pidgin between the two languages when introducing Tyson and, later, the judges.

Meanwhile, as I said, Tyson comes on and gives his own, fairly lacklustre interpretation of the jitterbug in which his "partner" dances helplessly around him as he rocks out almost entirely oblivious to her presence. He ends up, after not quite ninety seconds, looking like a deer caught in the headlights and dripping with sweat ("See, even great athletes get tired and sweat!" says the host), and receives a standing ovation from the crowd ("You were just so good!"). He also receives a reaction from the judges that seems inexplicably positive until you remember that he was undisputed heavyweight champion, lost only six fights in his professional career, and served time in prison — and then fucker bit someone's ear off. I certainly wouldn't want to tell him to his face that he sucked at dancing.

Indeed, the first guy seems to be positively shitting himself, exclaiming that Tyson has "an extraordinary gift!" and then comparing him to Barishnikov and Nureyev ("but not because I'm scared!" he adds, with a pleading look towards the audience). He's followed by a female judge — with a dog on her lap, for some reason, though it certainly seems to give her more of a sense of security, because all she says is "well, he didn't do much, but you could really tell he has good rhythm."

Tyson is then awarded 47 out of a potential 50 points by the studio judges, though at the end of the day, from what I can tell, he still lost to another couple. I guess Barishnikov is safe, after all...

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