Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The arrogance of American Idol

I thought the biggest scandal of American Idol on Tuesday night was the horrible decision to eliminate the judges from the first half of the show. But for some--including probably the most influential American Idol chronicler, Michael Slezak of Entertainment Weekly--it was Paula's gaffe in talking about Jason Castro's second song before he had sung it, and whether this showed that the judges are either actually critiquing the dress rehearsals instead of the live performances, or the judges' comments are scripted in advance.

Amazingly, even though this was a major topic of discussion today throughout the country--it was the featured story on Yahoo for a good portion of the day--the only reference to it in the interminable one-hour show tonight was Ryan obliquely referring to a report on TMZ that Paula had been drinking before the show and that's why she was so confused. So instead of addressing a situation that in some minds, such as Slezak's, threatens to undermine the integrity of the show, Ryan defended Paula as "part of our family" or some such silliness, and moved on with no other comment. Not a good move.

Personally, I don't think this situation undermines the credibility of the show any more than anything else has over the years, because I sort of believe what is a weird, confusing story that Paula and Ryan told on his radio show this morning. I was more amazed by the amateurishness of the way the show works. I think the fact that the show is live is valuable because it adds an element of unpredictability to the show. But seeing Brooke mess up the lyrics to a song is unpredictable. What was done Tuesday night is just ridiculous. Apparently, the judges WEREN'T EVEN TOLD they woudln't be critiquing the singers until after the second performance until Ryan told them live on the air Tuesday night. According to Paula, they were so surprised and confuse by this development that they spent much of the first performance talking among themselves about it and asking to get a pen and some paper so they could write notes. (Really, this is what Paula said.) Then, apparently, what threw Paula off was when they were asked to critique at the end of the first performances. She said she had walked in earlier during the dress rehearsal--because she had gotten some family and friends in to that session--and heard Jason Castro singing "September Morn" so she had that in her head and she was so flustered by the change-up that she was thinking about that. (This, of course, contradicts what she said during Tuesday's show and what she apparently told Entertainment Tonight Tuesday night--that she had confused the Cook and Castro notes--but that didn't make any sense anyway, because she said she liked David Cook's performance but she didn't like Jason's "second" performance.) I'm willing to generally believe this explanation, because I watched an episode or two of that "Hey, Paula" reality show about her life, and she seems like a really confused person most of the time.

But the funniest and most satisfying part of the whole story is why they got that critique after the first performance. Apparently Mike Darnell--the head of Fox reality programming and, in effect, AI producer Nigel Lythgoe's boss--was watching the show at home and was, like most viewers, astounded that they skipped the judges for the first half of the show and told Nigel to bring out everyone and have the judges give their opinions before they did their second songs. So at least someone at Fox knows what's going on.

As for Brooke's elimination, it can't be surprising to anyone, and she had been flailing for a couple weeks. Just like Brooke was the first singer to restart a song in Idol history, I think she was the first contestant to actually walk away from her fellow contestants because she was having some sort of emotional breakdown after the song instead of being part of a group hug. Very weird.

As for the rest of the show, the medley wasn't quite as bad as usual, I'm not sure what Natasha Bedingfield was doing there but I like her, Neil Diamond was good but still had absolutely nothing interesting to say to the contestants, and "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Week"? How frightened should we be of this? Fingerhut out.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Cookie said...

zzzzzzz...... Huh. Oh, I dropped off during the show last night but woke up in time to see Brooke's geyser moment. If that girl is that emotionally fragile, she isn't suited for any kind of fame. She should stick to being a nanny. Life is tough Brooke - get a helmet. Okay, now I feel better. And another thing, I'm becoming more and more convinced that David A. is taking some sort of medication. There is something not quite right about his affect. I think this boy might have some serious issues.... So, I think I'm done with AI. I don't think I care who wins. I'm that bored. I may tune in next season (if they decide to do this again) but will only continue to watch if they figure out how to bring back its original sparkle and shine. Cookie, over....

5/1/08, 10:13 AM  
Anonymous kson220 said...

I thought that only a short mention of Paula's gaffe was spot on. America is so intrusive these days. The less said about the incident, the better. Had Ryan gone on and on, it would keep America tuned in to what was a MISTAKE. Even though Paula is a total whack job, she is entitled to make mistakes like everyone else. Hello Miley Cyrus non-controversy. The girl took some pictures; not rape, murder and mayhem. People in America need to get over themselves some, get lives of their own to worry about and stop the madness.

Brooke going home is neither a surprise nor dissapointment. She should have gone the week before instead of Carly, and that way we could have gotten rid of Jason this week.

I, for one, and totally looking forward to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame night. It should be cool. Good night for David Cook. See ya Wednesday!!

5/6/08, 3:08 PM  

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