Imagine, if you will, a televised competition. Thousands upon thousands try to enter such a competition, and nearly 450 are chosen to progress. But rather than show viewers that competition, they are shown an 8:1 ratio of backstage dramatics and histrionics to actual competition. Guess what? That competition exists, and millions of people tune in to it. I present to you American Idol, masters of bullshit TV.
A much more appropriate logo.
I have rarely watched this show, because I quickly grew weary of a singing competition that devoted so much airtime to stupid shit that wasn’t singing. And yet, this year I was sucked in because a friend of mine made it to Hollywood. I should be overjoyed, but alack, I find myself desperately wanting those hours of my life back.
Watching American Idol when you have a friend in the running is like a fucking 2 hour game of Where’s Waldo. Except there’s one problem: if your friend isn’t lucky enough to have caught a director’s eye, or isn’t batshit insane, that friend’s camera time is going to be moved to the Archive section of the hard drive, a step once known as the “cutting room floor” treatment.
I got to see my friend for 11 seconds out of 5 hours of bad TV, always in the background of another shot, and if you think that’s sour grapes, you are mistaken. Sour grapes, by comparison, would be goddamn ambrosia. It’s more sour sweaty goat ballsack, really, or so I’ve heard from the lonely goatherd high on the hill. (“Yodelady yodelady yodeohmygodthistastesnasty! Why god why? I should have never listened to that Scotsman!”)
A recent two hour episode was devoted to their Hollywood “group day”, in which the contestants had to perform as groups. The entire first hour was devoted to the drama of finding groups together. Really? An entire hour of eighth grade group dynamics and who got picked last for dodgeball? What the frisky hell?
Look, I get the concept of shining a spotlight on some people to “keep it interesting”, but concocting a narrative of diva vs underdog is just pandering to the Springer fans. In fact, as one contestant lost it on the latest episode, I likened it to a NASCAR crash…some people just don’t watch for the racin’. But seriously, Idol, why are we listening to contestants smack talk each other? What the flaming fuck does it have to do with the singing?
I realized that my friend had been cut, unnoticed and unannounced, toward the end of the most recent episode. I’d harbored that suspicion, but having to watch another whole episode of this tripe to confirm was proof that friends do things for one another that they don’t wanna do. I sat last night in front of the television, grey matter slowly converting to something resembling congealed grease, and felt my IQ dripping out of my ears. I may have suffered an aneurysm, but I wouldn't have noticed. Before I watch another episode of American Idol, I’d watch a FoxNews vs MSNBC greatest hits anthology projected onto Rosie O’Donnel’s naked ass. (Note to remaining friends, please do not audition for Idol. Rosie is expensive to book.)
What puzzles me is that the show’s producer actually has another program that features none of the stupid smack talk shit…So You Think You Can Dance. I actually enjoy that program, for all the reasons I don’t enjoy Idol. Seriously, they’ve got some true art on that show, and I’ve actually been moved to tears by one of the dances. Art, I tell you, as opposed to the silly he-said she-said backstage drama they focus on in Idol. I just don’t understand why said producer doesn’t feature the art of the music (or the slaughter thereof in some cases. Sometimes, says the occasional hypocrite me, the train wreck is fun to watch.)
And so I salute you, American Idol, but I salute you with one finger. Guess which one. May you suffer the ratings equivalent of laryngitis, and be replaced with something a little less “human drama” and a little more “art.”
I actually have a whole anti-realityTV rant bouncing around my brain as well, but the fuckery of only focusing on 20 or so contestants among 450+ that made it to Hollywood just got my goat. Pardon the pun.