Let's get back to this American Idol subject, since my surpressed rage over the present state of our government is spinning so far out of control that perhaps a light-hearted look at American culture will be just the thing to soothe my savage breast. Or not.
As we know by now, there is a celebrity shortage. There must be, otherwise, why would shows like Idol be so popular? Apparently, there is a dearth of CDs for people to buy, so it naturally falls on television to fill the gaps in your collection. Meanwhile, there are thousands of discs at your local Tower Records store, several of which are in the $9.99 New Artist rack, but I know how difficult it is for Americans to latch onto anything new, so we will allow television the freedom to shape our opinions for us - and what could be quicker and easier than that?
From what I see and (unfortunately) hear, the people who "win" on this show - or even the ones who lose and still "win" - are so AOR-Middle of the Road, that no one in their right-Christian-Politically-Correct mind would dare object to the clean, white-bread image that is projected.
Let's play a little game. Imagine a television talent show where the contestants are (in no particular order): Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Melissa Etheridge, Kate Bush and Bruce Springsteen. Chances are, the typical Idol voter, or even the sainted Simon and his crew, would declare them vocally inept and have them tossed off the show in favor of some Clay Aiken-sound-alike whose voice would offend no one, and even though he hits the notes, the notes have no emotive power. Put a bag over Melissa's head and call her Jamie, and she gets tossed, guaranteed.
However, I would guess that the six artists I mentioned have sold about sixteen billion records, so one wonders, what is the point of American Idol? I would call every one of those artists "idols" in their own right, and yet, they accomplished all that they have without benefit of a hokey television show.
Can you tell that I don't like American Idol?
Perhaps, one day, there will come a situation where the search will commence for a distinctively-voiced, quirky musician with exceptional songwriting talent. We will find you, and thrust you into society where you will prosper, not because you are the same, but because you are different. Your skill, personality and talent will win over legions of fans and you will have a long and prosperous career.
SURPRISE - There already is such a situation. It's called your local record store. Get out from in front of your television, and find a CD that looks interesting, with music you may like, and buy it. The CD may even cost less than the hundreds of text-message votes you've been casting, or intrinsically less than the time you have wasted in front of the TV. Stop allowing popular culture to shape your opinion. Instead - here's a radical concept - shape your own opinion, and regardless of what your friends, relatives or (God forbid) the general public thinks, you will enjoy the music because you picked it out yourself, and not because somebody sent a text message to the largest media outlet in the world.