Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Money-Making Idea!

It remains my belief that people don’t watch American Idol for the music. If someone wanted to hear terrific singing, there are literally millions of tracks he or she could download from iTunes, my own among 'em. What attracts a huger viewership to Idol than any other program on TV, I'm convinced, is the opportunity to witness real humiliation and real courage.

Certainly sports fans get to see lots of humiliation. But whereas the quarterback who’s thrown a virtually game-ending interception, the batter who’s struck out with the bases loaded and his team behind in the bottom of the ninth, and the basketball player who misses free throws that might have tied and then won the game with half a second left on the clock are all allowed to cry or upend the water cooler in the locker room before they confront the press, the Idol contestant who’s just sung his or her little heart out is expected to stand there grinning bravely while the judges tell him how awful he was — and then be tearlessly thoughtful and philosophical when Ryan Seacrest asks immediately thereafter if his fresh wounds hurt!

For my money, the 17-year-old girl who manages not to burst into tears while being informed that her song choice was idiotic, her singing shrill and off-key, and her hairstyle unbecoming demonstrates far greater courage than the college football coach who, 30 minutes after his heavily favored team was beaten, finally emerges from his office to snarl at reporters about how they wouldn’t be asking such stupid questions if they understood the game a tenth as well as he.

If my analysis is correct, the idea I’ve just had will enable some enterprising TV producer to make a great deal of money: Let children compete, with the understanding that the judges will pull no punches because of a contestant's age. It’s really just a case of incorporating into the present Idol format juvenile beauty pageants of the sort that became notorious after the murder of JonBenet Ramsey.

Can’t you just picture hundreds of millions of American being riveted by the spectacle of Randy Jackson advising the recent winner of, say, Little Miss Chocolate Drop that her rendition of Aretha’s "Natural Woman" “just didn’t work for me, dawg; know’m sayin’? I just don’t think singing’s your thing, dude.” After the countless thousands of dollars’ worth of lessons! After the cruelly truncated childhood! Picture Ellen Degenerate telling a five-year-old who’s just emoted her way through Eric Carmen’s “All by Myself” that the song might have been a little old for her. How could you not watch? Picture a 7-year-old tarted up like a 22-year-old listening with meticulously glossed little lower lip all a-tremble while Simon Cowell complains that her version of Nilsson’s “Without You” sounded like a kitten being tortured.

Now, that would be entertainment!

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