Saturday, January 20, 2007

American Evil

No, I’m not talking about the war in Iraq. I’m talking about American Idol. Now in its sixth season, the show has taken “meanness” to a new level, according to this article I found on the net.

On Tuesday and Wednesday nights the program showed clips of the first round of auditions from Minneapolis and Seattle. Tens of thousands showed up for these auditions, and many flew in from many parts of the country. I marvel at the production of this, because from this massive crowd they choose the most helpless and naïve American Idol hopefuls to humiliate.

As this article describes, and I’m sure as some of you might have seen, the humiliation was severe. I admit I laughed at parts, but I had to forward through my recording of the show when I just got too embarrassed to watch these pathetic pawns making fools of themselves.

It doesn’t take a highly ethical person to see the moral question here. But the producers obviously think America wants to see these sorry wannabe singers. And maybe they do. What does this tell us about our society? I don’t even want to think about it.

Some might say these people are asking for it, and that they might be playing a part. If they were acting, that makes me feel better, but I don’t think they were. The producers, judges and even that jerk Ryan Seacrest, know all too well the game they are playing with these clueless contestants. And this game is highly rated.

37.5 million people watched the premiere of the show, setting a record for FOX. The show is a huge ratings and commercial success! The commercials aired in the last episode of season five for American Idol cost almost as much as one aired during the Superbowl. Airing commercials during this program mean big returns for sponsors. And this is ultimately who the show is loyal to; not the contestants, not the fans and certainly not the winners. Just ask Kelly Clarkson. So what’s a little humiliation of some in exchange for television dominance?

I’m still going to watch American Idol. But in season seven, I’m saying no to the first few episodes. Maybe.



At Saturday, January 20, 2007, Anonymous CY said...

Well... if you ask me, I would be one of those people who say these people are asking for it. Some people might say I'm being mean, but hey, I was never a fan of William Hung even when he supposedly "made it big." I still see traces of him on TV, even today!! People who try out for this show should know what they are getting themselves into. It's AMERICAN IDOL, for heaven's sakes. MILLIONS of people watch. And if you want to try to become a star that badly, you should be prepared to become a national laughingstock too if that's what the outcome is.

Like JK said, the TV entertainment industry isn't loyal to the people. It's loyal to whatever big corporate entity pays the big bucks. That's the sad reality. And it's also sad to say that I, too, find a lot of those people on American Idol hilarious. So... people should be smart. Sure, dream big, but don't dream impossible, especially if it really is.

At Saturday, January 20, 2007, Anonymous LT said...

"I don't wanna be an American Idiot"
I think there's a darker side here. The first time I saw "American Idol" it was called "Star Academy" in France, and before that there was the original Brit version - so this is by no means an exclusively American issue -- but the tryouts are really a way for the bloated masses to poke fun at losers... which is pretty distasteful. What does it say that ppl enjoy it? I'm not sure. The result is less gory than what happened to the gladiators, for sure. But, the tryouts in particular seem to make people feel better that they're not at least "that much of a loser"... It also speaks to how the American Dream has become Paris Hiltonized. I have faith, though, that deep down Americans like shows like Dancing with the Stars and American Idol because they provide the opportunity for a nobody from the heartland to "make it big"... although I fear that the tryout ratings may prove otherwise...

At Sunday, January 21, 2007, Anonymous VLD said...

Great post! I've always been a little conflicted by AI's audition episodes. I love the auditions themselves -- from Simon's "Off you go!" to the final "note" -- but personally, my fun always ends when the contestant-crushing begins.

I do appreciate the humor when the judges and contestants argue about what music / talent / an Idol is. But it's gotten gratuitous over the seasons.

In just one episode this year, I saw [1] a particularly odious singer allowed to keep going and going for several very long minutes; [2] the judges ridiculing the appearance of a boy who clearly had some kind of facial anomaly; [3] a 16-year-old contestant who was so broken by rejection he looked ready to end his own life (or Simon's).

I wouldn't have aired any of that.


Post a Comment

<< Home