A new season of America Idol started this week. True to form, we’ve seen some amazing talent, some people who impress by their ability to put themselves out there even though they can’t sing, and some people who defy explanation because they truly can’t sing but honestly have no clue!
In my home, the Idol enterprise started to become old a couple years ago but we tune in from time to time. One of the issues that has caused all of us to lose interest is the shtick of the judges. If you’ve ever watched Idol, you know exactly what I mean!
Last night, though, my 15 year old daughter and I found ourselves squirming in our seats…and not because the singing was lousy. We found that the judges and producers were going too far in mocking some of the contestents.
If you didn’t tune in last night, they aired the Atlanta, Georgia, auditions. Some of the people who turned out were from incredibly small towns, rural towns living real-world lives. This was about as opposite as contrast from the lives of the judges as you could get.
The worst moment was when a welder came up for his audition. He had been in 3 near-fatal moments in his young life. The producers did a small feature before his audition that not only made light of these moments but implied that he was a…well, dumb hick. They depicted the other people involved in his life as stereotypical hillbillies.
During his audition, Mary J. Blige frankly began to laugh in his face. He showed more grace under fire than many of the other contestants who would have likely told the judges off.
When he was done attempting to sing, Simon told him to “go back to welding.” The contestant replied back “I actually want to get out of that…it’s dangerous.” Simon retorted with something like “You have 9 lives”.
As he left the room, the producers showed fake crashes and aired noises as if he were getting into more mishaps putting his life at risk.
My daughter turned to me and said “they’ve really gone too far this time. This guy seems like a nice guy…so he’s a welder. That doesn’t give them any right to look down on him and mock what he does. May be that’s all he can do in his town right now.”
We’re not alone in our view of last night’s Idol. As Moraes on TV writes:
“The judges do not, however, approve of the authenticity of Jesse Hamilton, a welder from Alabama who says he’s dodged death three times. The producers mock his three brushes with death in three cheap reenactments and Blige laughs hysterically during his performance. Later he accurately tells family members the judges “crucified me”.”
And, MSJBigBlog notes about Hamilton:
“He almost died 3 times, and describes each bizarre incident. OMG this is really stereotypical. They’re mocking the dumb southern hick. Jesse thinks his brush with death means he’s meant for something special, so he auditions despite never having sung in public. Yeah, he’s terrible. But in a really boring way. Mary J. the newbie, is cracking up so hard, she can barely hold it together. “I didn’t recognize that,” says Simon, “go back to welding.””
It’s time the Idol judges and producers recognize that reality TV doesn’t give them license to gratuitously mock and disgrace otherwise good people trying to earn an honest wage during tough times. It’s clear this show has run it’s course and is actually heading down a path that may not be so positive for our kids if this negative pattern of people bashing continues.
If any of us mocked someone, video taped it and put it up on YouTube, there would be significant repercussions for that. Just because this stuff is being shown under the umbrella of a TV show doesn’t make it any less wrong and it’s time the Idol machine be held accountable for truly crossing the line of descency.
If your kids are into Idol, watch with caution. This show is not airing positive messages and is really starting to take up air space that could be used for much more positive family programming.