Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Day, 2011

That was not Mozart laughing, Father... that was God. That was God laughing at me. Through that obscene giggle...” Anton Salieri, Amadeus

The Macy’s Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade was certainly a spectacle. There was the traditional spectacle of the balloons, the Rockettes, and Channel 4’s weatherman reporting that there was no wind as the leaves whirled in mini-cyclones behind him.

Then there were the celebrity spectacle interviews, which the host channel broadcasts before the parade reaches Herald Square (Bway & 34th Street). Macy’s also invites Broadway shows to bring their casts downtown to do a showstopper. We were treated to a wonderful spectacle of Dan Radcliffe proving not only that he’s grown up, but that when it comes to dancing, he’s Dan the Man. Good to see that more people got to see that this guy has talent. He can act, sing, and dance like Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly. He and the cast of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying performed “The Brotherhood of Man.” As Dan did his solo, the cameraman seemed to do a double-take from his face to his feet – they literally weren’t touching the ground. Fancy bit of levitating for the former boy wizard. Hope we get to see more of that fancy footwork of his once his run with How to Succeed is completed.

The cast of Spiderman came out for their number. These dancers were also airborne, as were the Power Rangers, but their routines were more athletic than graceful, bounding here and there, where Radcliffe just seemed to be suspended in mid-air. The numbers were geared towards the boys evidently, with lots of biffs, bams, and booms, which seemed rather strange for a Thanksgiving Day parade. But we’re talking about New York City.

Then, of course, there were the marching bands. The band from Hawaii featured even the boys in grass skirts. The boys didn’t look too happy about the uniform. There were some great high school bands out there with a great sound. Glad to see that pom-pom girls have made a comeback, even if their costumes seemed to have been inspired by the Power Rangers or one of the action-thriller movies.

Next in order of importance were the floats, some of them traditional, a new Thanksgiving float apparently created with new technology and just amazing to look at. A recently-added favorite has been the Central Park bridge float with its own ice skating pond.

But the crème de la crème was the gay ice skating star who arrived on his own special, white pony, with a darling white, fur-trimmed blanket daintily draped over him. The announcer dutifully gave his name and, as the camera crew dutifully followed them, he winked and blew them a kiss (as they no doubt stood slack-jawed at this performance). Someone must have said something off-camera because the anchorwoman replied to some unheard question, with a sniff, “He’s part of the trans-cultural exhibit” promoting inclusivity this Thanksgiving.

This particular spectacle just pushed the tolerance barometer a little far. If someone is avowedly gay, like Ellen Degeneres, but doesn’t flaunt it, as it were, or is an atheist like Dan Radcliffe claims to be (my father was an agnostic) – well, who cares really? What the heck – Irving Berlin, the composer of White Christmas, was Jewish. Dan wasn’t out there to mock religion on a religious holiday; he was there to do his job and perform for the people, and he was like a burst of a sunshine underneath Macy’s “Believe” sign. Ellen Degeneres is genuinely funny; I enjoy tuning into her show in the afternoons. George Takei is another openly gay actor. It doesn’t diminish his acting on the old Star Trek series. It doesn’t really matter. That stuff is between them and God, and that’s generally where they keep it. They understand the meaning of “Too Much Information.”

This skater’s performance was simply a thumb in the eye, a mockery of normal values. Had this gay ice skater been on the Central Park ice skating float, that would have been one thing. His homosexuality would have mattered no more to his performance than Dan Radcliffe’s religious preference mattered to his. This creature was out there not to display his talent and achievements, but his alternate lifestyle and to defy any public censure of it. He certainly wasn’t out there to please the public, and certainly not to give thanks to God. He seemed rather to be mocking God, and those who believe in Him.

What a relief it was when Santa Claus finally arrived with Mrs. Claus at his side. Or will the parade organizers decide next year, in the interests of trans-cultural inclusivity, to have Mr. and Mr. Santa?


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