I hate American Idol. I’m not sorry. The show should be.
I can recognize, thanks to memories of being glued to drek like StarSearch, why the program holds appeal for children. Competition, particularly any kind involving the possibility of instant fame, represents an adult struggle for recognition when you’re young. And, swallowing my bile, I know I’d try to get tickets for whatever kid in my life wanted to go American Idols Live! tonight in Tacoma.
Nonetheless, I think Idol, which exerts an international influence on popular culture far greater than late StarSearch host Ed McMahon ever dreamed of, has wreaked incalculable havoc on our heads. It’s now cemented not only the damaging aesthetic that singing is just about youthful charisma and hitting the right notes, but also the notion that “paying your dues” in this country means putting up with weeks of insults from a British sourpuss on national television. Survive the Limey, kids, and the world is yours!
Simon Cowell isn’t harsh enough, if you ask me. I wouldn’t let anyone leave that stage unscathed. Actually, I’d do them all the courtesy of not allowing them on the stage—I don’t think appearing on television should ever have anything to do with paying your dues in life.
Rumors are constantly swelling around the fact that Cowell may be leaving the show (yeah, right). I wish he’d take the show with him and, as a parting gesture, absolve himself of his sins by reminding kids that making your mark in the world sometimes just means, to paraphrase Joni Mitchell, playing real good for free.