American Idol Mocks the Unstable

“Audition” show nearly makes me vomit

I’m going to admit something that will shock you.  Are you sitting down?  Here goes……I have never seen a full episode of American Idol.  There.  Now you know another one of my dirty little secrets.  But I did have the great misfortune to see some snippets of the first two “audition” shows.

You might notice that I put “audition” in “quotes”.  That is because I am “mocking” the use of the word in relation to the “circus” that is American Idol.  For God’s sake, have we sunk so low as a nation that we get our giggles watching a major television outlet build up and tear down people who have been let out of The Institute on a day pass?  Come on!

What really made my gorge rise was the way they would take the most dysfunctional contestants and do a “profile” (yes, more quotes – sue me) on them.  You know these folks think it’s because they’ve got the goods, but everyone at home knows it’s because they are the ultimate freaky losers and their auditions will be atrocious.

Surely, you say, people get what they deserve.  Nobody is coerced into trying out for this show.  You’ll get no arguments from me there.  But look at these people – do they seem particularly grounded in reality to you?  The woman with the affect of a five-year-old who thought she would make it because she’s good at the video game?  The entire segment (as well as the several others I had the great misfortune of seeing) made me cringe with embarrassment for her.  I couldn’t even bear to watch the judges rip her a new one. She didn’t get it, people – and as payment for her mental illness or cognitive disability or whatever it is that keeps her off the usual plane of existence she earned the special award of being mocked and derided by the entire nation.  Have we seriously devolved to the point where this is entertainment?

Even the Pants on the Ground guy (who, by the way, made an excellent point about saggy-ass drawers) who will have fifteen minutes of fame as the result of his “audition” got the shaft.  People are not laughing with him – or any of the other terribly untalented people trotted out for our viewing pleasure.  People are laughing at him.  And if you can, go take a look at his face during his segment – he’s not kidding.  They might be laughing, but he isn’t.

I completely understand that the show gets more interesting and exciting as the serious contenders make their way through the various rounds.  I might even watch some of that (only to suck up to George, but still).  I also absolutely admit that I didn’t see the whole show and that some of it might have been awesome.  But what I saw was really mostly appalling.  Since when is it okay to get our kicks at the expense of people who clearly have limited capacity to understand they’re being mocked?  And really, how long until one of them catches on, sees the truth of what happened to them and hangs themselves in their bathroom?  Maybe Simon and Randy will find their fat paychecks to be solace when that day comes.  But what about the rest of us?

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