Thursday, January 18, 2007

American Idol viewing comes to an end

I guess Rosie O'Donnell beat me to the punch on this one, but, once again, despite telling Jamie "I will not watch this season of American Idol", I have seen three hours of the show already.

It may be the producer's knowledge that America loves to watch people fail, no matter who they are and as long as they quickly disappear from the screen (see: America's Funniest Home Videos). Or, it may be because of the saturation of American Idol into the zeitgeist, that American Idol is now attracting more applicants than ever of all stripes... And, perhaps after six seasons, no matter how grueling the humiliation the judges dish out, contestants are smart enough to just keep their mouths shut.

This season, American Idol's audition episodes seem to be showing nothing but mildly deranged, somewhat mentally challenged and functionally autistic contestants. Apparently it's not enough to just bring in the kids who think they can sing but have delusions of grandeur (which is how Idol reps classify their contestants). It seems that Crazy Mary from a few seasons ago really lit a fire under the producers to let through and broadcast the judges haranguing folks who the producers SHOULD have the common courtesy to excuse from the auditions. Instead, it's sort of the TV equivalent of laughing at the special ed kids in high school. Nice.

Of course, because the show lasts somewhere in the neighborhood of 87 weeks each season, the audience sort of forgets the folks who maybe should never have been paraded in front of the camera. But it's unlikely those folks forget, if they're ever even aware of how they were presented.

If someone put on a show where they pitched itself as: we promise to make fun of the mildly deranged, the somewhat mentally challenged and the functionally autistic, I would not tune in.

That's why I don't watch "Carlos Mencia" and "The Blue Collar Comedy Tour".

Anyway, I'm done. No more Idol.

@#$% them.

The real tragedy of all of this is that longtime readers will know I love it when bad things happen to good people. Somehow this TV show is taking away my love of the schadenfreude. And that's just not fair.

I DVR "Friday Night Lights" on Wednesday nights, so I have but one live-TV option:

It's "Armed and Famous" for me on my Wednesday nights. Go Officer Estrada!

Shut up. That show is awesome. While you were watching your fiftieth contestant butcher a Celine Dion song (as if Celine Dion songs should be encouraged, anyway) and Simon's 1000th eyeroll, I saw LaToya Jackson assist in the delivery of a baby.

That, Leaguers, is TV magic.


Anonymous said...

An American Idol secret I discovered by watching the local FOX affiliate's coverage of the San Antonio auditions last year (to be broadcast this season):

In each city, there are two auditions.

First, they have the MASSIVE cattle call where thousands line up and show of their pipes, or lack thereof. Randy, Paula, and Simon are NOT present at these auditions. The producers select people to move on to the second round.

Then, a week later, the three celeb judges show up to judge performances.

Do you follow? This means the producers DELIBERATELY send crappy or deranged people in front of Paula, Simon, and Randy, because it makes good TV.

Apparently, the first round auditions are taped, too. I watched part of Tuesday night's episode, and found it interesting that there was a different background "drop" behind some of the auditioners in the "montage" segments. They just cut in reaction shots of Paula, Simon, Randy, and Jewel.

That's entertainment!

The League said...

Jamie, who knows of wayyyy, wayyy too much stuff Idol had mentioned something about their format to me at some point. You could also see in their set-up shot in Minneapolis the multiple audition corrals they'd set up inside the arena, and not in a hotel ballroom.

I also assume that they ask contestants to prepare a few of the same songs so they can splice them together for the closing montage. (you kind of have to guess that based on song selection and the need to have a baseline song they can work with).

J.S. said...

Yeah, I've noticed from the few minutes of this show that I've watched this season that they seem to be pulling in some real crazies. It's only a matter of time before one of these auditions ends in a hail of gunfire...

Anonymous said...

i second steanso's prediction of gunfire.

Anonymous said...

Alright, let's not get carried away. Look, I have only watched one season, last year, and now they got me watching. But I haven't seen anything to make me think they are pulling any punches. I thought the format of Idol was pretty common knowledge. Obviously not everybody gets to stand in front of Paula, Randy and Simon. If you CHOOSE to go down there to tryout, common sense would dictate one has come to some conclusions, being:
(1) You may or may not be any good. If you are not any good, there is a good chance you will subject yourself to some humiliation at the hands of the judges. This show spends a lot of money (granted, makes a lot too) to try and find the next great pop-star. I am sure that they are expecting you to have some idea whether or not you are any good. Some of these people are either faking their belief that they really think they are good, and the rest are living in some kind of fantasy world. They kno what Idol is about, they have all seen it. They know that if tey suck, the judges will tell them that. In fact, I think the judges show incredible restraint. My wife and I laugh uncontrollably poining our fingers at contestants, and I would say we are pretty nice folks.

(2) Since when did professionals (and although you can comment on the judges "professionalism", they have all acheived or shown ability in their chosen career) giving on honest assessment of your ability to sing/perform/become a superstar = cruel treatment. These contestants are basically goin down to the tryout for a "critique" of their ability. The winners get to go on, the losers get made fun of. Everyone knows this.

(3) They had a guy on Wednesday who may have had some kind of disability, but not obviously so. Nice kid, sweet sounding kid. I think they totally handled it well. They were as complimentary as they could be given his mediocre to poor singing abilities
and encouraged him. They did that with several folks.

I hate to defend this show, but I haven't seen any offense to decency, and certainly nothing to merit a boycott.

Get some thicker skin League. Peabo thinks that perhaps once, the League must have had an American Idol experience of being judged and is over-sensitive to this issue.


The League said...

I think you're wrong. Flat out. A lot of steps have to occur as the producers make their decisions about what makes it to air, with dozens of deliberate decisions. One minute of watching the two gentlemen (one of which was referred to as a Bush baby) would tell you that the larger of the two was mentally handicapped.

I think AFTER the judges realized that the singer may not be highly functioning, they backed off. But the producers STILL decided to not only go to air with the guy, but to make a whole segment out of him.

I am not saying that many, many untalented people don't apply. We saw thousands filling an arena in Minneapolis. But it's pretty apparent that the producers are now selecting contestants who they feel are hilariously freakish to pick on, and in the process, don't seem to mind picking on the special ed kids or letting through folks who may be a less than mentally stable (how you weed that out, I have no idea).

Again, if a 20 year old thinks they can sing and they can't... and they've seen the show even once before, tough nuts. They deserve whatever they get.

But the past few episodes were like throwing the school wide talent show and then picking on the special ed kids during auditions. Literally.

RHPT said...

I think the "success" of William Hung encouraged a lot of "bad" folks to try out just so they can be famous for being bad.

The League said...

I don't disagree. But I think those folks don't get the screentime they once did in the era of William Hung. I think a lot of the folks who try that get relegated to the montage bits.

Laura said...

I don't watch American Idol, but I think you'll find that you can not watch American Idol and still absorb a great deal of it. I know of the contestants you are speaking of just from all the coverage of the show. You cannot escape!

The League said...

Knowing it will be on each week in my house whether I sit and watch it or not, I am sure I will know more about the show than I ever cared to.

Carla said...

It's a bit late to comment but what the hell...

I'm also turning the channel away from Idol. It's become a new kind of freak show where people can laugh in the privacy of their own homes so as not to feel bad.

I personally hate Paula the most as she pumps up the people to their faces and then once they are out the door laughs her ass off. Plus I think the whole world can tell she's on drugs.

I think the stereotype of the current young generation is Generation TV. People will do anything to get noticed and put on TV. Example: Girls Gone Wild, AI, Fear Factor, You Tube, etc. There is something in our society that values being on tv even if you have to suck milk from a goat teat and spit it in a cup. (True event on FF.)