You can't sing
Rani Karnik, 27, at an audition for "American Idol"
last fall in Greensboro, N.C.
Why Hold the Superlatives? 'American Idol' Is Ascendant
By BILL CARTER
Published: January 30, 2006
Simon Fuller was on vacation in Africa three weeks ago when the fifth season of "American Idol" started on the Fox network.
In the back of his mind, Mr. Fuller, an executive producer of the program, hoped that "Idol" would be strong again this year. But he and the others involved in the production were willing to be pragmatic: in a fifth go-round, no previous reality television show, and very few programs of any kind in television history, had significant ratings increases.
At Fox, the executives who buy the show from the company Mr. Fuller founded, 19 Entertainment, were similarly anxious about how yet another new season of "Idol" would start out. After all, the show's ratings increased a year ago, after Fox had anticipated that it might decline as much as 10 percent. This season, Peter Liguori, the president of Fox Entertainment, did not really want to go out on a limb with a prediction.
On the morning of Jan. 18, both Mr. Fuller and Mr. Liguori called for the overnight ratings of the "Idol" premiere as soon as they could. What they heard startled them almost into silence, a state surpassed only by the shock at networks competing with Fox. "American Idol," already top-rated, was up an astonishing 15 percent among the 18-to-49-year-old viewers that Fox most sought to reach. It was up almost 10 percent among all viewers, at 35.5 million, the second-largest audience ever for an entertainment show on Fox.
The thing about Idol isn't the numbers, but what it says about the American psyche. It isn't just bad signing,but ties directly into Tom Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas.
Most Americans have an inflated sense of self and self worth. They don't want hear about tax cuts ruining their future or unfair taxation because they imagine that they will be rich one day, or rejoice in the comforts of the middle class. The fact that most are living off $8,000 in credit card debt and risk poverty with a divorce eludes them as they lust for big screen TV's and new cars.
So you get thousands of people, most of whom can no more sing than fly, competing for a spot on American Idol. Some people show up with voices so bad, you have to think they're kidding, yet leave in tears when rejected.
One girl, dressed in a subtle silver sequined halter and go go boots with a mini skirt on her 180 pound frame, along with fake blonde hair extensions, was shocked that she couldn't sing. That she didn't come close. She stormed out, cursed up a storm and presumably went back to tacky land. The fact that 180lb fat girls don't make Idol, no matter how good they sing, eluded her.
The fact is that you see the one percent who either suck so bad or sing so good that they're worthy of being on TV. The other 99 percent are so mediocre that they just don't make the cut.
So why do people try out? Because they all wants the fame and money. America's celebrity culture is pervasive and consuming to many people. With adroit publicity, Jennifer Aniston, despite her moderate acting talents, is now "America's Sweetheart" while Angelina Jolie, despite adopting two kids, is now some pregnant man-stealing hussy. The fact that we know this is due to our celebrity driven news media.
So, people go and risk humiliation to get a payday.
The fact, that for 99 percent of them it is a complete waste of time, escapes them.
You had one woman who was homeless with kids and looking for fame to solve her problems, another quit her job.
The flaws are obvious, they don't look the part, obviously, they can't sing, they are too fat, too weird.
One example, which pissed off the gay community, was a teenager who looked like a 17 year old girl, who was a 17 year old boy. How much like a 17 year old girl? Page boy haircut, white V-neck top, white belt and tight jeans. But he was pissed when Simon Cowell asked him if he was a girl, and so was GLAAD. He said in a high pitched voice that he was a boy.
If he had worn some makeup, he'd have looked like a 17 year old female volleyball player. His sister said sweetly, "he's just excentric". I just laughed. I mean he really looked like a girl.
Now, even if he had the voice of an angel, he wasn't going to make the cut. Because American Idol is not a talent contest. It's as much about salability as anything else. You have to fit a certain type to make the cut.
It's the same kind of unreality which infects much of American politics. Liberals think policy trumps all, conservatives think self-interest trumps all and neither does. The problem is that there is no one who can convincingly introduce reality into the conversation. Simon Cowell is rich because he doesn't lie to people.
The Republicans have been successful because they tell people what they want to hear while picking their pockets. Democrats don't tell them anything because they're afraid to tell the truth. Neither is being honest and people know it, like they know Randy and Paula are full of shit.
When Howard Dean tells the truth, so many Dems get shit scared, they make up bullshit to tell the WaPo. You get idiots like Harold Ford telling people his grandmother was white, so that they will like him better instead of thinking she was a nigger lover. They think they can be elected without levelling with the American people. They refuse to see how honesty and a little bluntness has made Simon Cowell the owner of a room full of $700 sweaters.
When Jack Murtha tell a truth every private knows, half the Dems run from him like he's swinging a chainsaw with a hockey mask on. You think people respect that?
Party regulars shit their pants at the idea of Cindy Sheehan challenging Diane Feinstein because "she might seem like a wacko". Give me a fucking break. The California GOP got lucky with Arnold and that's it. Her seat is safe, but it's time she explains why she won't demand the US leave Iraq.
The Republicans tell nice stories which conflict with reality by every known standard, just like people who couldn't hit a note with a baseball bat think that they could sing.
But at some point, reality enters the picture and Cowell is the only who gets respect. Maybe the Dems might want think that over.
posted by Steve @ 12:44:00 AM