Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Wanna Be Cat Deeley

Just ask my husband how I often I launch into praise-filled raveouts about the hostess of “So You Think You Can Dance,” Cat Deeley. I know, I know, I get carried away. But I think the reasons for my girl-crush are kinda interesting, so hear me out.

Cat has done a lot in her career as a DJ, model, and TV personality, but my familiarity with her is limited to SYTYCD. So in this post I’m only speaking of Cat’s persona on the show. What I love about her is that she is young, gorgeous, shapely, and every inch a beauty, but on SYTYCD she almost never operates as a sex object. On the contrary, her relationship both with the audience and with the contestants is quite overtly maternal.

The media in the Western world normally never waste an opportunity to exploit sex, so this is astonishing. Here we have this woman who could easily be all kinds of sexy, but she simply doesn’t operate that way. I don’t know how much of this is her idea and how much is the producers’, but for me it works wonderfully.

Cat is far more than the host of the show. She is den mother to the dancers, always encouraging them and sympathizing with them in a way that plays as 100% sincere. During each season’s tryouts, Cat goes on the road to hang out with dancers waiting in line, warming up for their auditions, weeping over rejection and celebrating over success. Her sensitivity and tenderness toward these competitors is truly touching.

When the live show episodes get underway, Cat makes it plain that the tribe of 20 contestants are her “babies.” The judges may disapprove, may chide, may even browbeat, but Cat is “mom,” unconditionally. When dancers get the boot, it comforts the viewer to know Cat is there for them in the hour of their demise—a shoulder to cry on, a cheerleader to the end.

And what makes this all the more striking to me is that Cat is almost as young, and certainly as attractive, as any female on the show. Nevertheless she never crosses the line between maternal behavior and sexual seductiveness. The contrast is particularly interesting when some young, hot female celebrity is guest performer. Sure, I can appreciate the allure of someone like Kristinia DeBarge, but it seems so shallow when compared to the appeal of a more complex female archetype like Cat.

I’m not one to get into clothes and hairstyles; you won’t catch me watching Oscar red carpet reports to check out the gowns. But I do enjoy seeing Cat get dolled up twice a week, just to observe a woman looking really beautiful in the media without it being overtly about sex. Interestingly, that makes her all the more sexy, in my book.

Perhaps it’s because I like seeing a “spokesmodel” (horrible term!) serving a purpose that is more than being a pretty face and hot body. Cat demonstrates that a beautiful woman can have a deeper value, as she performs the role of guardian angel to her charges, and friend to her studio audience of predominantly adolescent girls.

Watching her makes me feel rather proud to be a woman. And that’s why my husband keeps having to listen to my recurring raveouts about Cat Deeley....


Sandhya said...

Yes, you said it all! I watch the show just for her.

Diana Laurence said...

Aw, that's sweet, Sandhya! Glad to hear I'm not alone. She contributes so much to the show, that's for sure.

Miss Organizized said...

Such interesting observations that I never really realized until now! Comparing to American Idol, Ryan is so stoic and removed from the contestants...basically just there to introduce and make snide remarks to Simon. But Cat truly does seem to care about all of her contestants and it has never even waned over the last five years. Very very cool and this post made me respect her even more :)

Diana Laurence said...

Yay! Yeah, one of the tough things about skipping this season of SYTYCD has been missing Cat.