For two hours tonight, time will stand still. There will be no random crime, no political debates, no chaotic weather. The planets will realign in perfect harmony. Even that giant killer asteroid hurtling towards Earth will momentarily alter its course.
Only one event could have that sort of global impact. Tonight we hold our collective breath as the fate of Blake and Jordin is revealed, and the reign of the new American Idol begins. I realize some of you may be previously committed to pressing engagements, and I know how heavily this must weigh on your shoulders. It’s okay, really.
I feel your pain. They set you up for disappointment last night, pitting the “better performer” (Blake) against the “better singer” (Jordin), as if the two were mutually exclusive terms. They billed it as a showdown, and presented it as a singing version of a WWE spectacle. And then, as if we hadn’t been battered enough, they had to offer proof that all AI contestants are winners. To prove it, they paraded the ultimate poseur, Daughtry, on stage. (I’m unclear if that’s what he calls his ~ahem~ band, or if he just got too cool to use his first name.)
It was at that moment that my damn epiphany swept over me.
For all its posturings, American Idol was never about fulfilling dreams. It’s about crushing them. Even worse, it makes us gleefully watch as the no-talents, the lesser talents, and even the really good talents are cut down like chaff. Seeing them fall makes us feel better about our own shortcomings. And when our favorites make it through the ranks, thanks to the “power” of our votes, we feel like we actually call the shots in where our world is headed.
What it gets us is a prefab version of pop culture, where “performer” and “singer” are mutually exclusive terms, and where “rockers” are transformed into manufactured charlatans, replete with choreographed guitarists and perfect eighties-era leather pants.