There are nights when Dancing With the Stars judge Bruno Tolioni can't critique worth a damn. The three judges of Top Design usually fell woefully short of doing a good job, while Sally Hershberger from Shear Genius has a natural talent for judging what's good or not. Simon Cowell is rude but almost always right; and Paula is sweet but usually off the mark.
Constructive criticism is tough. Ask any teacher. There are so many pitfalls when critiquing a person's talent, and a thoughtless remark can truly hurt their feelings or scar a child for life.
During Dancing With the Stars last night, Bruno called Billy Ray Cyrus' attempt at the fox trot "crap." The moment that word left his mouth, Bruno realized he had made a faux pas, and clapped his hands to his mouth. Billy's response was one of hurt more than anger.
Sally Hershberger, on the other hand, strikes me as a particularly gifted judge. Critiquing the Meg Ryan shag the stylists had cut (her signature hairdo), she went down the line pointing out ways the stylists could improve their cut or remarking on something she liked. She was teaching as she was judging, and you could see the stylists lapping up her advice.
In blogging about Bravo shows, I've occasionally crossed the line from harmless fun to sounding nastier than I meant to. I'm still honing my craft of writing gentle satire, a skill that Tom & Lorenzo, the Project Rungay guys and Eric 3000 excel at.
Ah, perhaps some day! Meanwhile, I'll keep studying Sally and learning from Bruno's mistakes. Billy did not survive tonight's cut, but I think better of him for exiting with such grace tonight. You've got a new fan, mister, and you can dance for me any time.