Thursday, January 18, 2007

American Idol. I repent.

My favorite roadside Jesus Freak is back.
I’m glad. I thought maybe the skinny black man had given up on Lawrenceville, hopped a missionary plane to warmer parts, but nope, he’s standing on the side of Hwy 316 near the evil WalMart sporting some fancy new colored chalk on his demon exorcising board.
Today he’s advising us to “Repent of Idols.”

Which I’m taking as a universal nod telling me it’s okay to write about what’s bugging me… those stupid “bloopers” on American Idol.

Do the producers really think that’s what we want to see? Do they know how rare another William Hung will be after all these seasons of reality TV? American viewers are like cockroaches or capuchin apes--we learn to adapt to the environment. If you give us a few seasons of American Idol, we’ll begin to understand how to get on the blooper reel with our phony accents, makeup and costumes. We’ll make a sad story sadder with a few tears and a pathetically hopeful outlook on life. Americans love underdogs, we’ll be a shoe-in for the votes.

Eventually we’ll understand this show isn’t about who can sing the best, or who deserves a record contract though we’ll argue the merits of one person’s style over another, critique their song choice and pretend that our call in vote really matters.
Ok. I get the whole drag it out mentality of broadcast TV, the importance of ratings and commercial sponsors, soundbites, facetime and more Paula. But, please, please, give the public some credit.

Stop the bad edits and the staging. Show us the people that almost made it, not the ones who never should have shown up in the first place. My stomach starts to ache for the disillusioned. Do they really not understand that they suck? How can they not know? And the people who encourage them? They should be slapped. Listen, I think there is a place for bad karaoke, and that’s in a bar with lots of alcohol, or at my house after even more alcohol, but even when drunk, I think most of us know who can sing and who can’t and if you can’t carry a tune, but are having fun and laughing at yourself, that’s cool—just don’t make me watch you on national TV when I’m sadly sober.

I’m tired of you AI. What would be so wrong if you were honest in your selection process? What would be so wrong if the pre-auditions were handled by genuinely talented “agents” prior to the cattle calls? What would be so wrong to LIMIT the entrants? 
I for one would rather see a hundred semi-talented people in an audition room than the thousands who tramp through public arenas for a week prior to the 3 auditions you make them go through (no wonder they lose their jobs).
Yes, you peak my interest with the snippet of a pretty girl with a big voice who may appear for 20 seconds on February 6, but why do I have to sit through hours of obvious rejects parading through my living room? Show me the great talents that were passed up, because their story wasn’t good enough- not the losers that I’m already trying to avoid in real life. Show me my America is made of creative, intelligent people, not freaks. Save the shitty performances for America’s Funniest Videos- another riproaring knee-slapping salute to stupidity and fame mongers.

As for me, until the final Idols are selected, I’m going back to the movies, back to commercial free entertainment that I know is fiction, that I understand was staged and rehearsed and edited for my viewing pleasure.
Simon Cowell got it right last night when he questioned the room with his typical hands in the air gesture and this question: “What are we doing here, people?”
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