Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Sad Admission -or- Becoming a True American

Sure, there are and have been and will be some legitimately great singers who sing with that sort of pow, over the top, man I got a lot of training vocal fire hose shit. Aretha, um, Fergie, whatever. Props to people who manage to pull it off. Usually it's trash.

And this is why I never watched American Idol. I know the idea is that there is diversity among the contestants, but really, it's not true. They all have pretty much the same type of voice. That being a voice with very little character. The only reason Kelly Clarkson wasn't immediately famous after she won the first Idol competition was because she'd had the humanity trained out of her voice, and some sort of homogenous "humanity" trained in: as if there is a formula, a certain alogorithm such that, if the correct sequence of wavelengths and amplitudes are filtered through it, it will make anyone and everyone break down and weep. A robotic humanity.

I don't like how these people sing.

But fuck! As deplorable as the singing might be, and as destructive as the philosophy behind the show might be, behind the music, as it were, there is some extremely compelling television
going on. I was forced to ask myself this evening why in God's name I was still watching the damn show. I've seen probably three full episodes already this season, and they've all been exactly the same. Why again? Well, I thought, the editing.

The editing? No big surprise. The virtue of pretty much any reality based show, that being a show based on footage of people doing something largely unscripted which is then edited into a coherent sequence that least sort of could be called a narrative, lies in how well edited it is. Source material be damned, an editor can make gold from straw.

And American Idol's editors are pro-fessionals. They make bad performances look bad, good performances look good, mentally retarted people look hilarious, emotionally distraught people look insane, in short, they confirm everything. Think that all the new "media mogul's" are a crock of shit? Show a clearly sort of nuts guy audition and make sure to include the part where he describes himself as a future author, singer, director, and choreographer. Think everyone in the south has a father who is paralyzed in prison because he shot his wife when he caught her in the act and then tried and failed to kill himself? Well, Idol has the stunning blond belle to prove it to you. Everything you need is there, everything that would take away from the comforting image is removed. Definition of good editing.

And man, the teasers. I've seen some teasers in my day, and of course the jokes are true: "there's something in your living room right now that could kill your entire family and leave you penniless by tomorrow morning. What is it? Find out at 11." Idol takes teasers back to a time before they were widely acknowledged; to a time when people were willing and grateful to be teased by television.

"Why the fuck is Randy opening the door to the hallway and screaming at this girl?"

"I know every terrible performance I've seen on this show has been at least semi serious so far, but honestly, was 3 second clip a joke? It had to be."

The teasers work, and as long as the teasers work the show will work. The Godforsaken thing could run 4 hours and people would watch, as long as they could believably keep holding that carrot in front of our faces.

The only conestant I've liked so far was the spitting image of Jack Osborne. May God have mercy on our American souls. And I mean all of us.

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