We had The Simpsons on as I was making potato-broccoli soup. Then we gave in and joined Battle of the Gay Blades (“already in progress”).
The choice of claimed “arena rock” as musical accompaniment for the first episode was so blatantly symbolic even Big Bobby Clobber would get the point. (Nothing like “Careless Whisper,” or some other former gay single that has trickled down through the culture, could be tolerated.) The size difference between the tough, manly hockey dudes and petite figure skatrixen was nothing less than shocking. I couldn’t put up with Ron MacLean’s endless robotic recitations of phone and txt numbers.
We bailed after 18 minutes. My esteemed colleague kept saying the hockey dudes looked “embarrassed.” They did. They were visibly unmanned by the true nature of figure skating. Wheel out whatever cover stories you want about how tough these nancies are with their falls and their bruises and their endless gruelling hours of practice, but figure skating is all about flow, curves, beauty. The only sport more feminine is rhythmic gymnastics.
Every skater goes fem, even the straight guys. Elvis Stojko’s set jaw, clenched fists, quad jumps, and remarks to reporters have changed nothing and never could have. Chernobyl will always be radioactive and figure skating will always be girly.
The hockey dudes who signed up for this exercise will have none of that. And it shows. What they’re battling is not blades but the true nature of the sport. Figure-skating fans love everything about figure skating. They’re mostly women and gays. That’s why Battle of the Blades makes no sense whatsoever. There’s never been a greater assault on the gay/effeminate truth of figure skating. The great innovation of Battle of the Blades is it brings gay panic to a whole new level.
Corollary: I don’t see why naturally masculine hockey players ought to be coerced into acting some other way.
Check the press clippings. No matter how hard they try, these people end up blurting out what they really think. (Emphasis added.)
Domi watches as Hough-Sweeney and their male trainer demonstrate a move Domi appears to find emasculating. As Hough-Sweeney stands with her straight legs spread several feet apart, the trainer dives on the ice and slides gracefully between them.
Domi crosses his arms and raises his eyebrows. “Well, then” is all he can muster. “I am not a prima donna.” He pauses to consider his confused identity, then hits upon a compromise. “I’m not a figure skater – I’m an entertainer.”
Albrecht hopes Battle of the Blades breaks down some stereotypes. “I got a letter from a mom in Kingston, thanking whoever created the show. She has an 11-year-old son who plays hockey and is in a skating club. But he gets teased for the figure skating. She wrote that as soon as he found out Domi was figure skating, he felt great about it. I hope that thinking spreads a hundredfold across the country.”