Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Train wrecks and other magnetic events

Carl and I watched "American Idol" this evening. We watched a bit last year, bonding with A over it. Half way through the show, A disappeared. After a while, we glanced at one another, silently wondering what in the heck we were still doing, watching the trashy show flashing on the screen. Hence the magnetic event reference.

The first weeks of American Idol are astoundingly awful. There's this dichotomy happening. One is appalled at the often blatantly cruelty exhibited by the judges: making fun of contestants, shrieking with laughter at their voices and appearances, and a general attitude of base ridicule. Some of the contestant's faces reflected such genuine hurt that it was painful to watch.

Why is it acceptable, nay profitable, for important (sic) people to treat peons disrespectfully? Oh. Never mind. That's what the corporate world teaches us daily. People are not important; money is important. And those most likely to make money are those we would not make fun of: attractive, normal folks with some talent.

On the other hand, at least as the show is edited, many of the contestants were truly awful--unattractive, sometimes odd people with little or no talent. And, more offensively, many of those auditioning were deeply offended by not being chosen. There's an entitlement attitude rampant among those auditioning, an attitude that says, "Well, of course I'm talented enough to be a star. You are nuts to think otherwise."

One of the least palatable segments of the show is the post-interview, where we get to watch one rejected contestant after another proclaim just how wrong the judges were, usually an opinion liberally sprinkled with bleepable language.

Is this all the fault of pop psychology: always find something to praise about your child, don't ever discourage them, and let them know they are the center of your world? Or is it that children are lifted up as being central but reality shows them otherwise: if I'm so important, why do my parents come home from work 45 minutes before bedtime, try to buy me off, or don't care enough to make rules and stick with them?

Maybe it's none of the above, and there's nothing deep about it. Maybe society is going to hell in the proverbial handbasket and there's not a damn thing we can do about it. It would certainly seem so, after watching two hours of that dreck.

The election continues to be a magnetic event aka train wreck for me. But, of late, I'm fear I have nothing new to say on the topic. I'm glad that Hillary and Barack toned down the racial rhetoric today. Or maybe that's just an easy out for this white liberal.

I guess the only other election news is, gasp, while I'm still behind John Edwards and his campaign platform, his smile is starting to wear on me. The fake one. I know, I know. They all have fake smiles. It's their job, to smile constantly. Except when they are to look compassionate. Or fiery. Or parental. It's all an act. But I don't like catching them at it. And John is such a movie star that it looks particularly bad, somehow, when he flashes his fakey grin with the pearly whites.

Ah, deep substantive election analysis. I know that's why you stopped by.

Liz :-)


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