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Choreographed reality

Last week, Dancing with the Stars premiered a new season of ballroom dance destruction that included Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte.  While Lochte and his partner were receiving critiques for their foxtrot, two protesters walked up to denounce Lochte’s shameful behaviour in Rio.  Quickly, the show’s Security body-slammed one into the floor before cuffing him.

The producers were, of course, horrified.  That is, after they stopped high-fiving each other.

There was justifiable outrage when Lochte’s participation on DWTS was announced after the Rio Olympics scandal.  Then the Brazilian police files charges against the swimmer.  So what was ABC thinking?

That’s easy: Cha-ching!

Now, I'm not a conspiracy nut.  But let's look at the facts.  First, they stoked the fire by claiming that Lochte had paid for his crime.  He’d been banned from competing for several months.  But after failing to medal individually, he’d been planning a break anyway.

He’d also had to forfeit $100,000 in team bonuses.  But DWTS pays $125,000 to start with more every week he performs.

So no one was buying this duly chastised act.  And with 2016 being the year of the public protest, producers knew something would happen.  In fact, given DWTS’s continuous ratings downslide, they banked on it.

Now, according to the show, these stealthy folk got in by wearing “appropriate clothes” during screening.  Then after being escorted into a heavily-guarded sound set where they are allowed limited movement, half a dozen people changed their clothes to reveal bright Clorox white “No Lochte” shirts – without anyone noticing.

Two men then managed to walk through rows of tightly jammed chairs and around several cameras without being stopped until they were in the middle of the dance floor thanks to … luck?  Good planning?  Heck, Security was probably told to clear a path.

And what a coincidence that the director just happened to be running a dance clip during Carrie Ann Inaba’s critique which covered what was occurring live.

Fortunately, producers also put Lochte near the end of the show for just such a situation.  So despite the disruption and sudden commercial break, they still had enough airtime to finish the competition.  Imagine that!

No, viewers at home didn’t see what was going on.  However, someone leaked news of two men “rushing the stage” and the “assault” on Lochte immediately.  What they didn’t say was that a balding, 59-year-old in khakis was just walking toward the judges and talking to the audience with his hands open and outstretched.  He was obviously unarmed.  No one tried to touch Lochte.  And the only violence that occurred was on them.

But really, the protesters should have thought this through.  Lochte has now been painted as the victim, saying he’s “hurt” and “heartbroken.”  And co-stars are speaking out on behalf of his character and forgiveness of his past “mistakes.”  Funny, no one did so before now.

Meanwhile, ABC is drawing out the drama to ensure higher ratings by putting the studio on “lockdown” during future shows.  And the only losers in all this are the two misguided souls in jail.

And the foxtrot.