American Idol Is An Asshole

And so it begins. Last night, the 147th season of American Idol kicked off with its annual Teasing Of The Nerds. It is amazing that it is 2010 and America still considers it enjoyable and hilarious and interesting to make fun of hopeful and often kind of sad people for their inability to do the thing they love. “That guy sings so bad! I was laughing so hard I almost fell out of my hoverchair!” That is what people will say in 1,000 years when we’re probably still watching this stupid show. “I hope the TX-1000 wins!”

Of course, this is a big season for the show, since Paula is gone, and Simon has announced he is leaving. Who will fill their horrible shoes? Who will care?! (I know that millions of people will care, but this is my little corner of the world, and as such, I get to pretend that not everything is terrible.)

Obviously, there is schadenfreude at work here, at least in the early episodes of the show, when the people who can actually sing (kind of, even some of the winners last night seemed like losers, if you know what I mean) get even less time on-screen then the people who are just there to get kicked in the mouth. You know, as entertainment! For the kids! So there was the sad girl who thinks she can sing because she gets decent scores on the American Idol Wii game*. And there was the sad anime girl. And there was the sad angry Rivers Cuomo guy. And there was the sad this guy:

Oh jeez.

And there is something deeper and more interesting than schadenfreude as well, which is the not entirely unwelcome experience of watching people’s narcissistic delusions being shattered. Because some of the people who cannot sing don’t seem to understand that we all have our limitations, and that there are certain dreams that we should probably NOT hold onto long after the world has made it clear that we would be better off pursuing other options. This part of American Idol only gets more intense as the years go by, because the people being mocked and humiliated and SHAMED are well aware of how the show works. They are, in a sense, offering themselves up to us. When the anime girl–who Randy Jackson told to quit singing and stick with the animation thing, such is the show’s indifference to who these people actually ARE, as if being interested in anime therefore MAKES YOU an anime?–was told that she was not good at singing and would not be going on to Hollywood, said “how can you say that to me?” The incredulity at Simon being mean to YOU, in the same way that he has been mean to literally hundreds of other would-be-singers, is a mark of our cultural obsession with being special snowflakes and each the exception to all the rules.

It just makes you wonder, you know, what was this guy thinking:

Cool “desert” sound effects! What is this, an episode of Blind Date?!

I should make it clear that I am not above laughing at these people. I laughed at each and everyone one of them. AT, not WITH. I’m a human being, as are we all. But I am not the asshole in this situation. American Idol is the asshole. And I will show you why.

First you have to watch this:

THERE IT IS. Right there. Did you see it? It’s not the part where we are encouraged to laugh at the expense of a probably very confused young man who seems to have taken most of his “look” from Katherine Dunn novels, being incapable of singing a song that it is funny he is even singing in the first place because this is an audition to be on a show about music**, not a one-man pre-party dance session in front of the mirror. In Germany. That is not the part where American Idol is an asshole, or at least any more of an asshole than at any other point that we have already discussed. No, it is at the moment where they ENCOURAGE HIM TO START OVER. Fuck all of them. Not a single “judge” on that “distinguised panel” was confused about which of the two types of contestants Norberto Guerrero will be when the show airs. They could have just put him out of his misery with comments about needing a bigger window through which to throw themselves, or how the gun only had three bullets so Victoria Beckham would have to stay alive to tell the world what had happened here today. But instead, they put him through the ringer for a second time, because they are a bunch of assholes.

Whatever, I guess. Norberto Guerrero wanted to be on TV, and he got what he wanted, kind of. It’s not his or our fault that we live in a dying world. Perhaps things will be better when I am rebirthed on Pandora.

And thus concludes Videogum’s coverage of the 147th season of American Idol.

*This was easily one of the weirdest moments of product placement in product placement history, because while the entire segment of the sad girl who thought she could sing because she got decent scores on the American Idol Wii game was obviously only on the show to promote the American Idol Wii game, it also told potential customers that the product they were being encouraged to buy would inevitably make them into stupid losers?
**It is hilarious how this show insists that it is about succeeding in the music industry. It’s not. It is about succeeding on a reality TV show about the music industry. And even that is only kind of true. Because the last time I checked, the music industry was not singularly focused on determining who could do the best Stevie Wonder covers. Sure, some of the show’s winners go on to have actual success. But some of them don’t. It’s hit or miss. But, like, when the angry Rivers Cuomo Nightmare was getting so angry about having to wait, the judges scolded him about how he wants to succeed in the music industry but he’s not even willing to wait a few hours to audition for American Idol, the one true mark of musical talent. What? Shut up, this show. Although, in American Idol’s defense, that guy was ALSO an asshole.