I think the allure in shows like "American Idol" is akin to slowing down as I drive past a car accident - morbid curiosity coupled with deep relief that I haven't made such an idiot of myself as to crash and burn in public view.
We watched most of last night's "American Idol" show, and I finally put my finger on the combination of annoyance/fascination it has for me.
1. I'm deeply empathetic; I rejoice for the true finds - like the Wyoming cowboy who had only ever sung to his turkeys. Unfortunately, I also feel embarrassed for those who don't have the wisdom to be embarrassed themselves. It's like watching George on "Seinfeld" is for me: cringing as the person says or does something else that socially unacceptable.
2. For all those who will never be superstar singers, I'm irritated that public floggings by the judges and host will stop them from ever singing again. Don't misinterpret me: I don't personally want to hear every one of these people sing, but if that's a way they express joy, why take the wind out of their sails? It's like telling a 5-yr-old kid that he isn't creative. For the rest of his life, he'll suck at creative writing class because he believes he isn't creative.
3. I'm appalled at the depths of unprofessionalism - partly from the judges, but mostly from the contestants. I'm always relieved when someone takes the news of their rejection calmly. There seem to be too many egos who believe their mom's opinion of their voice rather than the judges. It reminds me of my choir director's story of an audition when the people did so poorly that they kicked their music out the door. As he said, "Not that I would have given them rave reviews anyway, but their behavior simply solidified my opinion."
I supposed I can be grateful that TV programs are so ephemeral. Years from now, the chance is very small that some archaeologist will dig up one of these stupid "reality" shows years from now and use it to deduce our culture. I don't like the thought of my life being viewed through the lens of "Skating with the Stars!"