Fox Tests the Waters


I found myself surprised last night by Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance. Not by the dancers themselves, most of whom are amazing, but by the focus of the interlude during the second half of the show.

The guest judge was Adam Shankman, the director and choreographer of Hairspray, which opens next week.  The taped segment showed the contestants prepping for and hanging out at the premiere of Hairspray. The cast was in the audience as well.

Granted, Hairspray’s plot revolves around dancing, and this would tie in perfectly with So You Think’s ethos. No, what surprised me was that Fox, as part News Corporation, a conglomerate whose controlling shareholder leans a bit to the right, would embrace something created by renegade filmmaker John Waters.

Hairspray was of course originally a movie written and directed by Waters, which was then turned into a play, which returns as a movie (Time Warner’s New Line Cinema is releasing it). Waters has the writing credit for the new movie, as well as a cameo. Waters is the man who brought us Pink Flamingos and Polyester, and introduced the world to the gloriously notorious Divine, who, among other acts, ends Pink Flamingos with one of the most shocking and vile scenes in celluloid history.

Waters’ films have dealt with cross-dressing, homosexuality, abortion, “outrageous” sexual acts, the religious right, and the “typical American family” stereotype as seen from a less traditional angle.

I have to admit that Hairspray is one of the few Waters films I haven’t seen. What surprises me is that Fox would embrace one of his projects. Yes, this is the home of The Simpsons and Family Guy, neither of which represent typical family values. Waters, however, I would have imagined would be nowhere on Fox’s acceptable list.

I’m glad that he is. I’m just still very, very surprised.