My Guess: The Next American Idol

I confess, I watched American Idol this season. I'm being apologetic NOT because I think people should be apologetic about watching television but because I'm usually down on "reality" TV. I don't want reality TV to take the place of good, old-fashioned non-reality TV--like Buffy and such. (CSI is more or less "reality" TV with non-reality characters, much like Law & Order, which is a lot like watching your local news, only more interesting.)

However, I did watch American Idol this season, mostly to listen to Simon's comments and to read Television Without Pity's summations. In any case, I've been surprised at how nobody (that I've read so far) has caught on to why Melinda got dropped.

Melinda was/is phenomenal. She's a true professional. And that's why she didn't win. American Idol is very American in that at some fundamental level we think we're watching, LIVE, an Horatio Alger book. Horatio Alger wrote a bunch of books back in the 19th century about poor boys making good. They were probably all poor white boys but they were plucky and intrepid and made money and moved into the middle class. (Unlike Jeffrey Archer characters, they remained pleasant people and didn't try to kill each other or other people.) And much has been written about how influential this idea is in the American psyche.

Well, yeah. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, no matter what grad-school tries to tell you. And it does explain American Idol. Melinda didn't need anyone's help to "make good." She was already a professional with style. American Idol did give her more confidence but other than that, her leap up the rung isn't quite as far as it will be for . . . Jordin.

Yup, that's my guess. I like Blake, and I think Blake is a very, very gifted young man. But, first, I agree with Joe R. from Television Without Pity that first place really won't do Blake any favors. Secondly, it will Jordin; it will make Jordin's life (I'll pause here and say that for the sake of Jordin's future happiness, I hope that isn't true in the long-term, but I'm sure it will be true in the short-term.) Jordin is not a professional (as far as I know). She's a high schooler with a powerful set of lungs who is the same age as the show. Ha Ha Ha. (I've been reading too much TWP, and I'm beginning to adopt the style. She's not, of course.) The point is, the voting audience can make a difference with Jordin's life, in a way they really couldn't in Melinda's. Based on descriptions of Melinda's graceful farewell (I never watch the result shows; I draw the line at that much substancelessness), I would say that the 29-year-old was kind of sick of the whole thing and ready to walk away. Which is lovely really. But if you're a voter on the show, you're going to want to vote in the person who cares to win. And the person who cares the most, I think, is Jordin.

TELEVISION

1 comment:

  1. First, and foremost, remember that Simon is wrong. This is not a talent show, none of the shows like it are, they are popularity contests.

    The bulk of votes are generated by people favor a specific contestant, as long as their performance is adequate. As contestants drop out, voters either switch loyalties or try to game the system against another contestant.

    In short Jordin has a huge loyal following. Blake has his fans, but mostly voters who wanted to vote for a guy. This left Melinda--who has close to zero charisma--out in the cold.

    (I have observed something curious, though, about these shows. A very attractive girl will lose almost every time. Same with so-called beauty pageants. A similar thing happens with guys, though it's not as stark. The most glaring recent example of this was the Grease tryout reality show.)

    One other point; even if you don't like country music, watch Nashville Star if you have cable. Most the contestants blow the socks off the American Idol contestants.

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