Germany's Got Talent... 6 Year Old Belly Dancing & Misplaced Controversy
Something has been on our mind here in the HipMix.net office for quite some time: belly dancing children. We’re all for belly dancing at any age, but something about how belly dancing girls are portrayed on stage can, at times, be unsettling.
But ignore what I just said (I know, hard right?). We’re going to talk about that in a later post. Today, I’d like to bring up one little girl in particular and her dream of becoming Shakira. Das Kleine Shakira!!
As far as female icons go, we couldn’t think of much better ones. Ok, maybe a female world leader or historical figure, but if you’re gonna idolize someone in the pop world, Shakira’s a nice choice. She’s far from scandalous, speaks 6 languages, and has a resume that boasts more than a few professions from singer, producer to philanthropist.
Oh, and did I mention she belly dances? Well, of course you already knew that. And what better girl-power past-time could she have? Plus, while being fit & healthy looking, she’s not exactly super-skinny. All-around, a good choice for girls to look up to.
Not so, says Dr. Maya Gotz, who has a pretty strong opinion on the 6-year old’s performance as “mini-Shakira” on Germany’s version of the Got Talent franchise (Das Supertalent, if you want something to repeat emphatically to people when talking about your awesome powers of belly dance).
Dr. Gotz is up-in-arms, saying the child’s performance was too adult for television, and should never have made it to prime time.
Here’s the full quote:
"TV youth watchdog Dr Maya Gotz said: 'In this kind of programme the child is being highly sexualised and is being portrayed not as a child but as an adult. This should not have been allowed on TV.'"
What’s unfortunate is, after reading some of Dr. Gotz former writings, we really agree with her! In a 3-part profile on her research by Kidscreen, there are some big issues she addresses that as a mother of a young girl, as a female, and as a belly dancer, I totally agree with.
Here are some findings from her research, as related by the blog Gamine Expedition:
"Gender stereotypes are still extremely prevalent within kids' television. Female characters are most often depicted as:
1. Conventionally beautiful, underweight and sexualized
2. Motivated by a romantic interest
3. Shown as dependent on boys
4. Stereotyped according to hair colour: blondes are either the "nice girl next door" or proverbial "blonde bitches" and redheads are headstrong, cheeky tomboys."
(Ok, you’re gonna have to click on the photo and watch there because Zee Germans won’t let me embed this video on my site)
First off, I don’t really speak German- dropped that language a loooong time ago so I’m totally going off body language and understanding about every 4th word.
Let’s talk about this so-called “revealing costume”. I’ve seen gymnastics and dance recital costumes that show more skin. This girl is basically covered from head to toe in, ok yeah it’s leopard but come on? How is this revealing? Have Germans SEEN Toddlers & Tiaras? Yeah, we’re going with more full-leopard-leotards over pretty-woman-stripper-outfits.
Here is an example of a girl throwing stereotypical gender roles on its head. Aren’t girls made of sugar, spice and everything nice whereas boys are made of snakes, snails and puppy dog tails? Not so with little Melissa, she l-o-v-e-s her snake!
So we journalists in the HipMix.net office started to dig more, about Dr. Maya and about the article.
After searching further into the story and “newsworthiness” of this article from the German Herald... it’s become more and more apparent that the real story is them trying to make a story, and using belly dance as the punch. The last line of this article insinuates that not long ago, a similar outrage was voiced because of a 4 year old girl named Shakira and her shocking the audience with her adult-style dancing.
Ummmm, this happened 4 years ago - and there’s only one video clip of the 4 year old’s performance... one where the oooohs and ahhh’s from Simon and Piers were echoed by the rest of the audience.
(this performance is not a favorite of mine... and like I said.... more on children later)
So, who is Dr. Maya? Yes, we have read her other writings, find them interesting and agree with a lot of it. My staff pressed on, looking for a face to put with the name... contact information... and we found it!
One look at her contact page, and we know the problem: she’s not really human!
Too bad, Dr. Maya... your comparison of this Das Kleine Shakira, Das Supertalent, “belly dancing” and inappropriate exploitation did get your name in the media, but were waaaay off-base. In my book, your 15 minutes are up! Auf Wiedersehen!