Idolatry in America

Opinion

How “American Idol” is destroying America

I know many of you must watch “American Idol.” If 25 million viewers are tuning in, it is safe to say a few attend Sinclair Community College.

For those who do not watch, the show plucks unknown singers from across America, some very talented, some very untalented, and thrusts them into the national spotlight. Contestants sing their songs and a panel of judges critique the performance. America then votes until one singer is left and is christened the next great American pop star.

If you are thinking to yourself “that sounds a lot like karaoke,” I couldn’t agree more. If you are also saying to yourself “I hate karaoke,” I also could not agree more.

Cheesy singing aside, this show is destroying America. I know that sounds like a big statement, but hear me out.

The art of the pimp

It may seem like the best singer would always win this competition, right? That is not always the case.

When a television network has 25 million people tuning in, they can sell a ton of advertising for that show. If they can sell a 30-second ad for $700,000, it only makes sense that they would want the show on as often as possible.

However, songs only fill so much time, so the show also delves into the singer’s personal lives. So, not only do the show’s producers use the contestant’s singing ability to make money, but also the contestants themselves use their personal stories – being a single mother or the death of a loved one – to gain votes and hopefully hit a big payday.

One of this season’s frontrunners is Danny Gokey. Gokey’s wife passed away just four weeks before his first audition and her death has been featured prominently on the show.

Several contestants have paraded their children out while talking about how hard it is to be a single parent.

These stories may seem like just another way to get to know the singers, but what does it really have to do with singing? If the object of the competition is to find the best singer, why does their personal life matter?

It all comes down to the almighty dollar.

The network needs to fill time and do so by featuring these personal stories. The contestants likely view this show as a once in a lifetime opportunity. They know their story needs to connect with the audience, but opening up such personal information seems like a tacky means to that end.

Money for nothing

Once upon a time, getting ahead in a career involved a lot of work and perseverance. If you wanted to be successful, you started at the bottom and worked your way up.

“American Idol” tricks people into believing that a magical “fame fairy” can grant their wishes of stardom and fortune.

We have gone from being a country full of hard working, do-whatever-it-takes type of people to a nation of dreamers hoping our lottery numbers come in. We no longer accept that entry-level position and work and sacrifice to attain the American dream – we hope to be given a hand out. We expect someone to come along and solve our problems for us.

I may have made some broad generalizations. After all, not every American thinks this way.

But I am willing to bet a large percentage of the 25 million who sit down every week to watch “American Idol” would kill to be handed their American dream on a silver platter.

Maybe “American Idol” is not destroying America, but it does feed into the notion that we don’t need to work hard to achieve our dreams. The American dream used to mean that anyone who wanted success bad enough could achieve it.

We now just want the success, no matter what we have to do to attain it.

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