Wednesday, January 19, 2005


abandon all hope, ye who enter

Pop Life likes American Idol, not the least of which is that we were one of the first blogs to ask, "hey, who is this William Hung dude?" 6,000 hits in a day people, okay? We're not mad at that.

But truly, we like AI because no other reality show puts America on display in its full rawness. For a national culture that force-feeds its brand of hopefulness down the world's throat, AI pulls the curtain back to reveal that depths of delusion that optimism can foster. Seriously, the sheer level of desperation exhibited on the show numbs the mind. I'd say it'd almost be endearing to know that someone pawned their wedding ring in order to finance their audition but mostly, it's just sad in a small, despairing kind of way. If and when that particular contestant gets booted off the show (and it's going to happen, no doubt about it), you just wonder how far she'll drop before smacking bottom.

I'm not saying taking a leave of one's mental faculties in pursuit of fame is a unique trait in the U.S. but more than ever, America seems to find comfort in being snowed under by its own fictions (Condi Rice, holla!) and AI helps put this on display with resplendence. I'm especially drawn to how so many people think that God put them on the path to become the next American Idol; do they go to the same church as Dubya?

This is the show at its best: once they whittle things down to the finalists, it's just another talent contest - one that's getting increasingly boring, especially in the face of the current reality glut.