Thursday, April 05, 2007

Face it, American Idol Rejects, the audience just wasn’t into you.

I've got to be one of the most uneasy fans of American Idol. I guess it's because I want the black singers to do well after they've won the show. Fantasia is on broadway, Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar. But what about Ruben? And none of these folks have had the radio success as Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson.

But there's something else that makes me uneasy. It's seeing the utter lack of sportsmanship on the part of the American Idol castoffs.

I swear! Not only do some folks not know when they have it good, they don’t know it when they have it bad. It might only be me. (I’ve got issues, I’ll admit it.) But frankly, I am getting very tired of seeing recent American Idol Rejects making the talk-show circuit complaining about their terrible lot in life.

With the noble exception of Brandon Rogers, who laughed at himself and was amazingly gracious, the common complaint from these castoffs seem to be that the judges wronged them somehow.

These folks – notice I don’t call them “losers” – say:

 They lost themselves somehow because they were trying to please the judges.
 They sang in a different style from Melinda and Lakisha and the judges were always comparing them to better singers.
 The audience understood neither they nor their creativity.

Okay, folks, whatever happened to graciousness?

Puhleze! Flip the channel over to C-Span and see how true competitors accept defeat. Learn a lesson or two. Say how wonderful your competitors were! Say humble, self-deprecating stuff. Tell us what a wonderful experience it all was and how blessed you felt to even have been nominated! Say, you are the luckiest person in the world for having had such a wonderful opportunity to experience the joy and character-building that was American Idol. Say something nice, for heaven’s sake! I, for one, will like you much better if you do. Have you no gratefulness for having arrived so far? Good Lord, folks! You got to be on television and taste fame! You’re going on the national tour, for heaven’s sake! That’s more than the rest of us can say.

Whatever happened to self-assessment?

I’m not saying you were bad singers. Hey, I’ll shout it out: you all were good singers. But you just weren’t THAT good. The voice is an instrument. You had no control over it. A star should be able to hear advice and comments without faltering. Admit that the audience did understand your limitations – lack of talent, lack of personality—and we just weren’t so into you.

In one interview, Chris Sligh said he tried to be different but the judges just didn’t understand him. Okay, perhaps he was trying to be different. I kinda saw it. But, the guy didn’t have the musical skills in him to be different. Let’s not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. Compared to Chris Richardson and Blake Lewis, Chris Sligh just wasn't able to show the music flowing in his soul. Chris Sligh's CD, Take a Chance on Something Beautiful is super! But he obviously wasn't able to bring it before a live audience. A good storyteller should be able to tell someone else's story in addition to his own, and he should be able to tell the story to a large audience. Others simply didn’t understand music. Period. Only a good storyteller can go without a plot, and some of these folks were novices when it came to understanding the elements of musical storytelling. Okay, I understand the need to defend oneself after being slammed in front of America and after not receiving enough votes from the audience. I’d be on the defensive too! But check the “misunderstood artist ego” at the exit door, guys. Buck up, and shut up.

The women, alas, have been the worst at whining.
From The Ellen Degeneres show to The View to American Idol Extra to Regis and Kelly, these cast-off women are complaining that

 Judges Paula, Simon, and Randy—were always comparing them to better singers, Melinda Dolittle and Lakisha Jones who had different “styles” than they did.
 Their feelings were hurt.
 The judges turned the audience against them.

Whining Women, please, please stop it! Chill, please! Stop hinting you were robbed! You weren’t!

 First of all, it’s a competition. Your feelings are going to get hurt. It’s called show business. It’s not a talent show. Folks aren’t lining up to praise you. We ain’t family, and this ain’t church.
 Secondly, admit your imperfection. LEARN to admit it. If Melinda and Lakisha had sung the songs you had chosen and performed them in the same singing styles you did – all things being equal—those girls would have sung those songs waaay better than you.
 Thirdly, and most important: you gals don’t seem to acknowledge that you – who are, for the most part. pretty gorgeous—have benefited from some advantages. Why aren’t you talking about that? Racism and Ageism still exist, girls! Your skin color, sexy dresses, thinness, and youth certainly didn’t hurt you. But why aren’t you talking about that?

In the Book of Ecclesiastes, The Preacher states, “the race is not to the rich, nor bread to the wise, nor favor to men of understanding, but time and chance happens to all men.” We humans complain all the time when we don’t get things we think we deserve. But do we ever complain when we get good things we don’t deserve? Heck, I for one, know I’ve gotten a few jobs that others were better qualified for. And certainly in the eyes of many, I (overweight, vaguely depressed, dark-skinned,) don’t deserve the saintly handsome studly Irish-American artist hubby I’m married to.

In our society, Youth, Thinness, and Beauty expect to win. Folks who live entitled lives – people with wealth, beauty, youth, blonde hair, light-colored skin—don’t realize how favored they often are. And when challenged by actually having to earn something girls like Stephanie, Haley, Gina, and Sabrina get all hot and bothered and whiny. Part of their sorrow is forgivable. They’ve lost a competition. I can accept that. But the other part of their sorrow – the angry part-- is surprise and outrage. This is the aspect of their sorrow which I personally cannot accept. Suddenly their beauty and youth aren’t working for them and – Aargh—their world topples. They are losing to women who – in their opinion—are not as beautiful as they are. Beauty, they believe should win, and so they spend my valuable television-viewing time hinting that somehow Lakisha and Melinda have robbed them. Unfortunately in this season’s American Idol, those gals who had depended on their youth and beauty to open doors, are being faced with the real world and they can’t handle it.

Recent mentor, Peter Noone, challenged Judge Simon Cowell’s contention that American Idol was a talent competition, stating flat-out that it was a voting competition. True. And Sanjaya Malakhar’s position in the top ten attests to that. But this also a talent competition. Flat-out. The female winners of American Idol tend to be women who are either

 talented, or
 talented and beautiful.

Beautiful untalented women have never won and they never will. In that little area of the beauty-obsessed entertainment world some fairness exists.

You American Idol losers should just accept this sad fact: they just weren’t good enough. Then maybe I won’t think you’re all such losers!
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