Wednesday, January 26, 2005

America's Most Idle

We're in a bad way. Three people - one a two-step has-been, the second with a vocabulary syncoped at two syllables, and, finally, a high school dropout - stare, scrutinize, and demoralize the person that stands in front of them. A normal, average, quotidian person. What did this person do wrong? Sing poorly? Of course (of course!), I am talking about American Idol, that bastion of entertainment/democracy for America. During late winter and early spring the folks at Fox (another entermocracy bastion) air this Golden Calf and we - America's Most Idle - tune in. Do we not realize the moral vapidity at work here? A young woman walks upon the stage in front of the faces of Simon, Randy, and Paula. She sings - poorly - and the triumvirate laughs. The woman, unable to contain herself, storms off stage right, crying. My point is not sympathy - honestly, and as callous as it sounds, I could not care less about the feelings of this young woman - my point is arrogance. This is the worst type of self-inflated bullying there is - corporate and anonymous - and we, the People, participate in it just as much as Simon, Randy, and Paula. American Idol in and of itself is not bad, and neither are the actions of the judges, but they indicate something much worse - a malignant loathing of ourselves and of our faults. This is our entertainment? Watching a person clearly incapable of holding a tune* make a fool of him or herself on national television? What are we? Is it that we are so insecure in our own ability to do anything that we, from afar, laugh at the game-hunters picking off the weak and callow? I would hate to think this is true, but I see no evidence proving otherwise. For those thinking that, no, this is just innocuous entertainment allowing a laugh or two, I petition you: give it a second thought. Or a third, if you need. This is sad, hollow, and morally reprehensible through and through.

*And - once again - of course I am not talking about the folks that go on American Idol with either the knowledge that they are indeed terrible, or the folks that go on with aspirations of fame and fortune. I'm talking about the middle-class of the show, the functionals that are railed upon with insult after insult.


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