Stop the Floor Show, Da-da Wants to Get Off

Get ready: here comes the robot CATS floor show.

The holidays are headin' right for us like a busload of drunken Shriners, and so are the requisite spate of bad holiday parades. So, Da-da's gonna get right to the point: this holiday parade floor-show thing has to stop. The parade is about FLOW. It's flowing, it's happy, the horses are horseying, flag girls flagging, the band banding, moving in pavement peristalsis... and then it all suddenly STOPS so a bunch of overly made-up, way-too-cheery dancers can pretend to sing to canned music that blares and offends while BRAND NAMES are zoomed in on and talked about, "spontaneously," so sponsors can get their precious mindshare and everyone but Da-da (and, well, you) can make money. This single stupid idea has ruined parades -- except The Rose Parade, where they still preserve the flow, but how long can they hold back the mediocre tide?

Having marched in a zillion parades, Da-da knows 'em all too well. They're a tremendous amount of work. All that stuff you see has to be made and tried on and cleaned and rehearsed and sweated in and taken off and cleaned and put on again and pinned and glued and pinned and OW and cleaned and polished and bagged and put back on over and over again.

All the people and animals you see -- esp. the bands and the horses and horse people, jeez -- have to do so much in the way of logistics and preparation, not the least of which is getting up at O-Dark-30 just to be at Street X at 5:45 am for line-up in the freezing cold, and having to repeatedly endure being cajoled and tacked up and shined and buffed and polished and cinched and strangled and half-crushed... just so they can walk past you for 60 seconds in the rain and cold and horse poop and general Planet Earth nastiness, usually wrapped in bags like ambulatory hams in the rain.

[Img courtesy Patrick Kane/The Petersburg Progress-Index... and of course, all those poor marching schmoes.]

Sounds miserable, right? It is. It's the Ultimate in Un-Reality TV. No one ever shows you how miserable these things are to do (and Reality TV producers... please DON'T). Parades SUCK to be in, for the most part. But all this pain and suffering is made bearable by the smiling faces and the cheers and the applause, esp. when it comes from little kids, who are SO excited to see... well, see ANYTHING bright and shiny and enormous that makes noise. Yay! Their reaction makes it all worthwhile.

But those doing most of the work aren't getting that reaction, anymore. They're marking time for the goddamn floor show. Those overly cheerful back-up hoofers from Broadway's latest redo of "CATS" need their six minutes of feigned happy lip-synced fame, while everyone else marks time. THEY AREN'T EVEN REALLY SINGING, nor are they playing the instruments you're hearing. They're just flopping around, phoning in some bland smiley YAY-ness. Haven't we all seen enough of that?

Ah, but then it's mercifully over and the camera moves in on the horses and the Pottersville Marching Marauders... band music swells and we cut away for nine minutes of commercials. Caught in the snide are grandma and grampa and mom and dad and all those relatives and friends who did so much work to support this kind of parade activity, but fail to see its fruition. There's no closure, no satisfaction. There's only more BRANDING, more commercials. This is wrong, and everyone knows it.

Maybe if everyone in the parade were naked and the naughty bits covered -- just barely -- by BRAND NAMES, the camera might linger... kinda Cirque du Soleil T-day in Vegas. Well, naked in Chicago in November for three hours? Those errant broadcast crews will also document countless deaths due to exposure -- which makes it even more compelling for those schmoes who make money off these things. It's naked, it's reality, it's death. But alas, parades aren't about nakedness or reality or death -- or making money. They're about putting on a happy face for all those little happy faces. Sounds trite, but Welcome to Earth. Earth is filled with doves and bunnies and unicorns, too, you know.

Da-da's ready for his close-up.

So. BROADCASTERS. Take it from the unicorn and STOP ruining the lives of little children (who are all playing games on smart phones anyway 'cause your floor show sucks) and put the parades back the way they were. You know: miserable, but with a nice pay-off. Nowadays, they're just miserable, with BROADCASTERS getting the nice pay-off.

If this continues, perhaps we should all agree to stop participating in these big silly corporate productions and have our own little non-branding parades, without the cameras and committees and "eventized" corporate staging, and... you know... just have a nice little drunken hometown parade.

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