Thursday, February 26, 2009

American Idol Is A Singing Competition Right?

I actually like watching American Idol because I like the idea of someone coming from nowhere to become a success.  Since we do not live in a meritocracy, true rags to riches stories are actually quite rare.

As I watched the line up of disasters desperately clinging to their dreams of fame, the commentary from the judges kept causing the bile to rise from my stomach.  Is there really any reason we need to notice how long or beautiful a womans legs are?  I thought that the point was to listen to her sing to decide whether or not she has any talent. 

Interspersed with commentary regarding the quality of performances, Randy and Simon could not stop discussing the bodies of the female contestants.  Year after year they chide contestants for not taking the competition seriously enough, but how can they when it is clearly nothing more than a meat competition put to song?

image As I became increasingly more agitated, I could not decide whether I more pissed off at the commentary, or the silence from Paula and Kara DioGuardi.  Not only did they not bother to put these men in check for their sexist commentary, they made sure to tell each contestant how beautiful they were.   There was not a single terse word, or even a dirty look in the response to the continual devaluation women contestants.

Simon also clearly has a problem when it comes to age.  Continually telling people that they sound old as an insult needs to stop.  What does a 50 year old sound like?  Why is sounding 50 necessarily a bad thing?  The man has absolutely zero couth and this platform has been nothing more than a stage for him to assault the world with his ignorance.  I will grant him that he has an ear for selecting talent however, he seems to have little success at being a decent human being.

I am trying really hard to hang on to Idol in spite of the obvious weekly display of privilege because deep down, even though I know how false the rags to riches story is, if even for a few hours a week I would like to believe in the impossible. I know that this is just a dumb reality show but the commentary from the judges being tacitly approved week after week in a small way symbolizes how far we still have to go.  If this is going to be about dreams and talent then how someone looks, or how old they sound, is simply not relevant.


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