Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Idoling" Away My Time

American Idol is a microcosm of all that's bad, and a little of what's good, in the U.S. right now.

I swore I wasn't going to watch it this season. First of all, I don't like watching TV. I mean, I actually do like watching TV at times, but mostly I feel the way I do when I eat cotton candy - I'm sluggish from too much sugar, and I didn't really enjoy the experience enough to merit that much sugar in the first place. And committing to watching American Idol is committing to spending many, many hours in front of the boob tube.

Secondly, I'm pretty sick of watching Randy, Paula, Simon and Ryan all make the same jokes, do the same things, make the same comments, etc. And I hate the audition segments, because I think, for the most part, they're cruel.

But I kept hearing hype that the singers this year might be the finest ever, and when Simon came on board and said that yes, he'd felt last season was weak, and yes, this season has enormous potential, I decided I had to check it out.

Mainly because I love music. And I love working with kids, and seeing these (mostly) quite young folks work so hard for their dreams can be inspiring. The music can be great, too, once you forget about Sanjaya. I end up watching the auditions to find out about the life stories. But as I said, I really don't enjoy the parts where the Big Three make fun of some poor, delusional, half-baby who doesn't have a clue of his or her utter lack of talent, so I was in and out of the room, reading sometimes, coming to the computer sometimes, etc.

Here are some things I took away, though:

1. The producers and big business who are fighting the writers during the writers strike are idiots. We so need interesting, well-scripted shows on TV. And writers deserve to be paid in the same way that the other artists who work on these productions are paid. Period.

2. If you want to see the whole "self-esteem" movement gone dramatically wrong, just watch the audition segments. Some of these kids are truly out there in terms of gauging their own talents. And the self-confidence of others is staggering, even when it shouldn't be. One young woman came out brimming with herself. She was eighteen. She delivered some nice singing, a la Carrie Underwood, whom she made no secret about being compared to. At the end of her audition, Simon looked up at her and said, "You're okay. But you're not as good as you think you are." And I say, "Thank you, Simon Cowell." Why? Because...

3. What kind of nut case parents are out there who feel that they need to coddle their adult children and guide their every direction and dream? Examples: the dad who gave his son a key around a chain, and carries a heart on a chain around his own neck, which he'll give to the boy to give to a girl when he marries that girl. This child is NINETEEN, and dad doesn't want him to even have a kiss until the wedding night. And sonny boy doesn't question this at all. Saving yourself for marriage - great - but a kiss is just a kiss. I'm sorry, but saying that sexual chemistry doesn't come into marriage at all is just wrong, and you can't have a thing, if you don't have that "swing."

Then there are the parents who gave their lovely, if completely non-singing, son both thumbs up in terms of his singing. And this young man is in his early twenties!

Then there are the mothers who let their children rant and rave and hit their butts to show Simon where he can kiss them on national television and the wimp head parent just stands in the background, smiling, while her daughter is rude and abusive.

And don't get me started on stage mothers or fathers who push an unwilling child into the spotlight to win lots of money for the family.

Okay, rant over.

The good parts? The kids who are truly talented, who understand the audition process, and who have worked hard to get to this point. These kids have given things up in their lives and they understand that this is a privilege, not a right. Watching the kids who will be in that final ten growing over the season will be like watching a small slice of the American dream unfold.

But, all in all, I'd rather read.

Remember, tomorrow by midnight is the last chance to join The Writing Game. Brillig, Sognatrice of Bleeding Espresso and Alex Elliot of Formula Fed and Flexible Parenting have all joined the rest of the crew since yesterday. Won't you join us, if you haven't already?


thailandchani said...

I watched that night, too. It's getting really tiring watching these people misbehave. Especially the one with the "simon can kiss my...", loud, abrasive, strange. Giving the finger. Aren't any of these people taught any manners?

We can only hope they will be embarrassed one day when they see it in the future.

Jan said...

I didn't get to watch the auditions. American Idol is the only show I take time to watch. I enjoy the music as well. (((HUGS)))

soccer mom in denial said...

I truly hate American Idol and Amazing Guy LOVES it. I have to record it for him and sometimes catch snippets. I'm just shocked by the utter cruelty of people.

Your list didn't help me.

I finally promoted The Writing Game and passed along the Roar Award. I passed it right back to you darling.

Flower Child said...

I must be one of the 3 people in the US who doesn't watch the show. I think I saw some of the first year and that was it. And it's not the cruelty factor. I just find it so uninteresting. And especially b/c few of these "Idols" have actually gone on to successful careers.
I really wish the writers' strike would end. ugh

Madam Crunchypants said...

I completely agree with you about the writer's strike. Good grief, get it over already.

And... I pretty much agreed with everything else you said too.

I admit though, that I am a horrible, evil person because I watch the auditions simply to laugh. Because it's either laugh, or cry.

Mariposa said...

I always hear about it, been meaning to watch but failed. Now, is that really failure? ;)

Unknown said...

Hmmmm. Not ever having seen the show I have no room to comment. From your description of it, however, it sounds like the kind of programming that, if viewed, could turn your mind to prune-whip yogurt! :)

anno said...

Sometimes, hearing you talk about this show, I've wished we had some television reception. Today, though, hmmm... I'm just as glad we don't

Jerri Ann said...

I read in the tv guide where someone from Fort Bragg posted saying that those folks make more than our soldiers fight in there's a tragedy!

painted maypole said...

cannot stand that show, sorry.

oh.. i must go come up with ideas for the writing game. ack, ack, ack.

Luisa Perkins said...

I don't like AI in general (it's too stressful for me), but P likes to watch it from time to time. It was on the other night, and I caught the tail end when the wacky guy in the silver/white feathery/angel/alien costume came on and sang about being brothers with Simon forever. I was horrified at the way they made fun of him. His voice wasn't terrible (though is composition was), and they completely objectified him. It made me mad.

Karen Olson said...

We turned it off Wednesday night in favor of Project Runway. We probably won't bother again until they're in Hollywood, when all the bad ones have been weeded out and the cruelty is over.

Anonymous said...

Wow!! I'll second that. I really can't stand the auditions. That is one of the many reasons I have chosen not to watch it.

But now Survivor. Wow! Don't even understand why I like it. Must be a soap opera thing.

Anonymous said...

I am absolutely crazy about American Idol. I love that show. And I even love the auditions. And yeah, I laugh. A lot.

Given, there are some moments where I have to hide my face because I feel so bad about how completely clueless someone is...but...

I still love it.

I also have a season pass to Celebrity Rehab on my DVR.

I know, I know. You probably want to delete me from your blogroll. I just can't help it.

La delirante said...

I don't like watching TV so much either. There are however some TV channels that I enjoy watching but even then I am kind of selective with the TV programs. I have heard of "American idol" but I have never watched it. I don't think it is broadcasted here.

Have a nice weekend!

Jenn in Holland said...

I really like your point about the self esteem movement gone horribly wrong. I think the auditions show of AI (what I remember anyway) is a perfect example of such. Believing in yourself is one thing and absolutely imperative in my mind, but believing in yourself while in complete denial of your capabilities just appears a little pathetic.

Wholly Burble said...

I understand these people open themselves up to the possibility of being made fun of--they have seen the show and what's happened to others I'm sure--but, in truth, I've NEVER watched even one episode of this show. I watch little TV, and this is one that has no appeal for me in any of the commercials, or in hearing others talk about it. None of my family watches it (although they have, and chose not to watch it any more)--but for me, just absolutely holds no interest. Give me an interesting and/or entertaining show like: House, Psych or Monk LOL.

Alex Elliot said...

I've never watched American Idol, but I've watched two seasons now of So You Think You Can Dance! I'm really excited for the Writing Game.