The Idol topic of the moment appears to be Simon Cowell’s eye roll after Chris Richardson said that he wanted to dedicate his performance Tuesday night to his many good friends at Virginia Tech. Richardson had just gotten beaten up by the judges for his performance of a song about wanting to be back with Opie, Andy, Barney, and Aunt Bea. It hardly seemed to be the sort of song one would dedicate to friends under such somber circumstances. Richardson also could possibly have said his bit before singing instead of after. Of course, it’s not clear if it was either possible to change his song to some more broken-hearted country dirge, say Patsy Cline, or if he could have said anything before his performance.
In any case, Chris’s “dedication” had the unfortunate feel of being a vote-getting ploy because of the way he wound up doing it. Simon maybe shouldn’t have rolled his eyes (if that’s in fact what the eye roll was about), but I did too. My guess is that Chris didn’t intend it that way, it just sort of came off like that.
The whole incident was one of those reminders about how tricky it can be when reality intrudes on reality TV. One of my first non-serious thoughts after hearing about the shootings was “Oh my God, what if the guy did it to protest Sanjaya Malakar’s staying on the show.”
How’s that for taking some of the heat off of Simon and Chris here? I apologize to anyone I offended with that, but I’m sharing it to make a point. Do we have too many ways to “escape” in our culture or not enough of them, and what is the proper role of reality TV in our lives at times like this?
As I went for my afternoon walk today, it did occur to me that there might have been better ways for the show to deal with the news. I did think Ryan’s pre-broadcast message was fine, but maybe a quick group sing of something like “Amazing Grace.” recorded by any number of country artists or even a moment of silence with pictures of the Blue Ridge mountains playing on the screen might have worked better. In exchange, they could easily have cut down on some of the banter or maybe edited some of the coaching bits. Idol consistently equates the show itself with "America" and what "America" wants and feels. So why not?