When I first heard that 82-year-old Cloris Leachman would be a celebrity contestant on Dancing With the Stars, I was elated.
Then I saw her dance the first two weeks.
I became, in turn, embarrassed and then angry. Was she chosen for the show because she, in fact, could not dance? Were we supposed to -- yet again! -- laugh at an old person trying to do something that she was too old, too stiff, too brittle to do well? Was she chosen as a caricature?
Then in weeks 3 and 4, something seemed to change. Cloris seemed to make a decision to be the train rather than the track. She took charge, playing to the hilt her sensuality, flaunting her overflowing cleavage, putting her leg up on the judges' table for the world to ogle and for Bruno to kiss. She got a standing ovation for her tango, not because it could compete with a young, svelte, limber, hormone-driven couple's tango, but because she conveyed self-confidence, sex appeal, and being totally at home in her 82-year-old body. She didn't just talk back to the judges (probably saltier than we were permitted to hear), but she didn't care what they said. She was doing her best, and her best meant entertaining the public on her terms, not theirs.
I have a true respect for the grace, aesthetics and atheticism of dance, none of which Cloris displays, but I give her the "I'm in this sensual body, I love it, and if you don't get me, you can go bleep yourself" award for attitude!
Were you troubled by her appearance on the show at first, when it looked like we were supposed to laugh at her, rather than with her? What do you think now?