Thursday, April 1, 2010
Yo, check it out, man. I’ve got some more ideas for American Idol, still the most watched program in the history of television — watched by more people each week than have watched all the Super Bowls and the last episode of M*A*S*H combined! — but watched by slightly fewer now than in seasons when 80 percent of the contestants weren’t excruciatingly boring — and not watched very regularly by me since the American public sent Lily Scott home even though she was sublime in every way, and what a travesty 'twas, but I'm not bitter!
The themes for the various theme weeks — Motown, The Beatles, No. 1 Hits by Women With Bisexual Alcoholic Manager Husbands — are numbingly over-familiar by this time. But who could not tune in for a Velvet Underground week, a NIN week, a Music From America’s Shameful Racist Past week or Substance Abuse week? In the penultimate case, imagine, for instance, little Aaron Kelly, America's Virgin, singing Billie Holiday’s "Strange Fruit", about racist lynchings. Or how about little Katie Stevens, America’s Other Virgin, making the Velvets’ "Venus In Furs" or "Heroin" her own? Think the pleasant but insipid Big Mike needs to venture out of his easy-listening soul comfort zone? Let's hear him tackle "Fuck You Like an Animal"!
They’ve also got to rethink the whole mentoring schtick. As it stands, they get some non- or semi-entity like Miley fucking Cyrus or Usher to urge the various contestants to Give More of Themselves, and then, while the contestants shuffle back to their hotel rooms to ponder this imparted wisdom, mumble dutifully about how each of them has An Incredible Voice and surely has a glittering career ahead. How much more entertaining it would be if they encouraged the mentors to say what they really think. Can you imagine Aretha Franklin commenting candidly on Katie fucking Stevens’ version of "Chain of Fools"? “Are you pulling my leg, girl? Tell the truth now. Ain't you just being uppity? I’m the most celebrated female vocalist of the last 45 years, Lady damned Soul, and you’re an insipid little white girl from some leafy small town in Connecticut whose voice is suited to a high school talent show, and you’re going to sing one of my iconic hits? Are you tripping, girl?"
Saw on HBO the other night a documentary about a recent American Idol-like singing competition on TV in Afghanistan. If Idol's producers had real panache, they'd invite the guy who won (the women contestants received death threats for their lasciviousness, which consisted in one case of dancing and exposing hair) to be one week's guest mentor, or to fill one of the guest spots they'd otherwise allocate to the latest Lady Gaga knockoff. The public relations benefit would doubtless be incalculable; can you imagine how proud would be the average Afghan, whose heart I understood America to be intent on winning?
I continue to want to know what the tattoo on poor Andrew Garcia’s neck signifies. I’m guessing that it means he was initiated into one of those gangs whose prospective initiates drive around at night with their lights off until another motorist flashes his own lights, and then kill that other motorist and eat his pancreas and lymph glands with guacamole, but I may very well be mistaken.