January 27th, 2005

American Idolatry

Normally, I have about as much love for the United States as for ovarian cysts. So it's a rare phenomenon that can inspire the kind of pjs-just-out-of-the-dryer warm fuzzy patriotism which courses through my veins now. That phenomenon is American Idol.

Yes, I said it: I love American Idol. It is hands down the best show on television. In this era of divisive red-state/blue-state politics, religious fundamentalism, and wide-spread hysteria, only this show has brought Americans from sea to shining sea together to participate in our true national pass-time: mocking losers.

That, friends, is really what AI (American Idol: now 50% more artificial than the leading artificial intelligence!) is all about. Like Abu Ghraib prison guards, we revel in the humiliation, making predictions on how long the judges will allow the latest fat, ugly, tone-deaf mongoloid to continue his cacophonous rendition of "A Whole New World" from Disney's Aladdin. Does our conscience bother us? Hell no! We can jeer at these hapless contestants (though as Americans, statistically 2/3rds of us are also fat, ugly, tone-deaf mongoloids) because, and this is the show's real genius, they asked for it!

While I enjoy mocking losers as much as the next red-blooded American jerk, I've noticed a trend that I don't recall happening last season (perhaps I just blocked it out): some of the contestants seem to actually be mentally ill. How do these people get in? Where are the Social Services people? Are there really so few scruples among the shows producers that somehow this seems ok? And what does this auger for future seasons? Will we lobotomize bad contestants (or re-lobotomize in some cases) and try to get them to breed during the Super Bowl half-time show?

On another note, it occurred to me as I watched the Coney Island-style parade of freaks that was our most recent episode (including that original sideshow attraction, Gene Simmons of Kiss, looking like a cross between Don Vito Corleone and Hagrid's dog Fang), that American Idol is really the televisual equivalent of badfic. There's the appalling grammar, the incomprehensible dialogue (Randy: "Yo, it wuz a'ight, I'm jus not feelin' ya - Stay crunked, my man"), the squeeing (Stupid Contestant #922: "Mark McGrath is such a babe!!!111), and - of course - the Sues. Take Carrie Underwood (a Sue name if ever there was one): a sweet-as-pie blonde farm girl from Missouri whose honeyed voice (and, presumably, her sapphire almond-shaped eyes, glossy lips, child of the moonishness, and ability to make a patronus in the form of Jesus Christ come out of her nipples) earned her a ticket to Hollywood.

Perhaps someone could write an AI/Harry Potter crossover badfic? Snape can be the celebrity judge.
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