Reversing the Numbness

Thursday, November 8, 2007

American Idol X

A couple of weeks ago I interviewed a dude named Bucky Covington, who was a finalist on American Idol two seasons ago and is doing pretty well on the mainstream country charts. He's a big motocross fan, so I did a small piece on him for the next issue. He seemed as down to earth as he did when he was on the show -- just a good ol' boy. Our little chat got me to thinking about the biggest show on television.

I didn't watch American Idol until two season ago, when I finally gave it a chance. (The DM sort of watched out of the corner of her eye but didn't really care much.) I'd resisted before that, probably just because the show was so popular that it turned me off. But sometimes I have to remind myself that disliking something because it's popular is the same as liking it because it's popular -- you're letting its popularity control how you feel about it either way. So I decided to give it a chance and form an opinion based on the show itself. Here's what I came up with:

It's not as bad as I thought it would be. Sure, it's exploitative in early rounds and overly produced throughout, but at its heart it's really just a talent show, and I always sort of liked talent shows. (Even these negative elements can be somewhat controlled with Tivo.) Compare this to other reality shows that are absolutely based on pitting the worst elements of human nature against each other for the deranged enjoyment of the lowest common denominator, and American Idol comes out looking halfway decent.

So last year we gave the show another shot, and while I wasn't overly impressed with the finalists as a whole, a Lily Tomlin lookalike named Melinda Doolittle was really, really good. This girl was the clear winner of the show, and I knew it the second I heard her. There was just no way anyone was going to beat her.

And that might have actually been the case had I (and others like me) bothered to vote for her, but despite my acceptance of the fact that I was actually watching this show, I could not bring myself to vote. I just could not do it. The reality of voting on American Idol was more than I could stand. What if Rob Zero found out? Humiliations galore....

Then she lost to two or three inferior singers, including one dude who is so inferior he shouldn't even be on the same stage she's on. I couldn't believe it. What a joke! I stopped watching the show instantly and vowed to never watch it again. I guess I could blame myself -- if I didn't vote, I probably shouldn't care who wins -- but in the end, I learned that American Idol is also based on one of the worst elements of human nature: extremely bad taste.

16 comments:

spooge said...

the REAL winners are who survives after the show is over...for instance...the nerdy guy who lost to the big black guy on the show several season ago, HAD a much better career than the winner "post show." he even had a primetime Christmas special on NBC. but he's gone now...

every once in a while, they get it right though...like with Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood...

even if you don't like their music, the talent level is pretty high...

Inarticulate Fumblings said...

Sleek, you probably could have voted (once) and still kept (most of) your dignity. It's not like you were voting for a ventriloquist on 'America's Got Talent.'

SleekPelt said...

spooge: There are definitely some talented people on that show, no question.

IF: I don't have enough dignity to spend some on American Idol, I'm afraid.

spooge said...

i disagree, had sleek voted, that would have given us all waaaayyyy tooooo much material to use against him...

i mean, just the fact that he blogged about this is truly amazing...

tell me sleek...did you lose sleep when your favorite "idol" lost to the inferior "idols?" just think, had you voted, and encouraged others to vote, you could be recommending new music to us, and helping to ignite new talent upon the world.

i watched the first season. plus, i try to catch the beginnings of each season, just so I can take part in the exploitation, but after that, they lose me... partly b/c i have no interest in who wins, and also b/c there are groups out there that specifically vote for the worst ones...i call them "player haters." to them, I say, hate the game, not the player....

SleekPelt said...

spooge: If I'm to continue the process of reversing my numbness -- which I might add seems to be working -- then I'm going to have to be willing to be brutally honest at times, particularly if it's at my own expense. Besides, I think admitting to getting pleasure at others' humiliation, as you've done, is far more embarrassing than admitting to watching a show in an attempt to find positives. But that's just me. ;)

Matthes said...

I can't stand just about any network television show, its so contrived and boxed up that I just can't do it.
Simpsons, South Park, Seinfeld are about all I can take.

My wife does watch AI however and sometimes I am forced to watch it, I am so jaded these days that I do feel its rigged by the producers.

Zee said...

I really dug how Kelly Clarkson told her label to fuck off becuase she wasnted to write and produce her music. Then, when her sales and tickets fell into the toilet, she apologized.

The biggest sin of this show, as far as I am concerned, is Daughtrey. I am not enlightened, I'll admit it. I fucking hate this band, this guy and that song.

On another note, the band version of AI "Next American Band" got off on a bad note in my book. They invited Zolar X onto the show, one of the first Glam Bands EVER (back when it was called "Glitter Rock," a band whose schtick heavily influenced suck rock luminaries as David Bowie (one can argue that the whole Ziggy Stardust concept may have been lifted from Zolar X) and Brian Eno--and they ridicule them and cut them off 10 seconds into the song. Terrible. You'd think that at least that Johnny Resnick would have shown them a modicum of respect.

While I'm on the topic, Sleek, next friday check out Zolar X. I'll remind you.

The Electric Orchid Hunter said...

There's nothing as mind-numbingly entertaining as the South African version of this show; the ultimate in Sunday afternoon vegging! I've never voted, though.

josh williams said...

Me da always told me and he still would if he did not grow as tired of his observation as I did, it still holds true.
Never underestimate the poor taste of the United States public. Its true, just think if we had the vote for federal statues? Mary Lou Retton, Sly Stallon aka Rockee Michael Jackson,Miachael Bolten? (would we pulling him down like Stalin?) and the list goes on.

Valyna said...

I'm not afraid to admit it... I'm horribly addicted to AI. And I vote too. And I want to have sex with Chris Daughtry. And I want to set Ryan Seacrest on fire. And I love Simon with every bone in my body. *sigh. I can't wait until January!! :D

*I know, I'm a dork. But it could be worse... I could be watching Beauty and the Geek... or I Love New York... or some shit like that ;)

Clash said...

Since Matthes conveniently used the “wife” excuse, I will have to blame the damned viewing of the show in my house on the kids. I say each year that I will cease to care, and I finally don’t.

I agree with Spooge that the ultimate test is surviving after the phone-votes stop and CD sales start.

Mom! Toilets blogged! said...

The way I ride my bike, I figured I was the American Idle

Mom

Rob Zero said...

My wife watches it religiously. I usually sit and read while it's on. It's a game show... I really have no issue with it.

However, I find it hilarious that the potential contestants feel that AI is the ONLY way to be in the music industry. Howabout playing clubs like the rest of us?

SleekPelt said...

matthes: Do you guys have a Canadian Idol?

zee: Okay, Zolar X follows The Blood Brothers. I didn't mind that Daughtry dude on the show, but I haven't followed his career post-AI though. I did see him in an issue of Spin that references Marilyn Manson -- who I really want to see live -- as possibly the last rock star. Is asks in a caption about Daughtry, "Since when did rock stars start looking and acting like you and me?" Where, oh where has Tommy Lee gone? To see how I feel about that American Band show, see this post.

teoh: I heard a piece on NPR a while back -- by the way, you could write for NPR -- about Indian Idol, where one of the front-runners was from this crazy small town made up of typically vilified minorities, and his success on the show was the greatest thing that had happed to the town and the group of people in decades. It was pretty awesome, actually.

josh: Mary Lou Retton is a local girl, so she'd win in a landslide around here.

valyna: I've read your AI posts before; they partially gave me the strength to write this one, actually.

clash: Ha! I must admit, Bucky Covington is not one of the singers I would have pegged for success.

mom: I hear you've been tearing the Endurocrosses up!

SleekPelt said...

rob: Agreed, a game/talent show. And some of the contestants have spent plenty of time gigging. Bucky Covington has been in bands for years, as had Daughtry and the grey-haired dude who won two years ago.

Rob Zero said...

I was mainly discussing the people in the early stages of the show who BAWL and FLIP OUT when they aren't selected: "...this is my only chance..."

I will say that Catherine McPhee is one of the hottest things on this planet.