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Idol Chatter

One of the few times a year I plant myself on my couch and only leave for bathroom breaks is during the first few episodes of “American Idol.” Am I interested in this year’s crop of talented singers, hoping to get a glimpse of the next big star? No way! I’m in it strictly to watch no-talent people get a wake-up call.

Some might say I’m a horrible person for laughing as other people’s dreams are crushed, and that that this season is particularly “mean.” And, I must admit, when “Idol” started airing the worst-of-the-worst auditions, I’d squirm in embarrassment for those who were rejected. But now, I just can’t wait to see how delusional so much of America is.

I don’t think I’m a bad person for watching the try-outs and I certainly don’t think Simon and company are too harsh on the rejected. By now, everyone knows the judges are there to be critical, not to make friends. So if they can’t take the cold hard truth, they shouldn’t be trying out. What I do think is horrible is that so many people set their friends and family up for a brutal and very public humiliation by lavishing them with false hope.

I don’t think telling someone who is tone-deaf that they’ll never be able to score a legimate record deal is a bad thing. (Let’s forget about the William Hung situation for a moment, shall we?). America–and in particular “American Idol”–is spreading a culture of lies, and we, as a society need to decide one thing: Should we all live pretending like we can truly be anything we want to be, or should we be honest with each other, and ourselves, and admit that we can’t do everything we might want to do?

Throughout the initial competition, I heard such self-proclaimed accolades as, “My co-workers pushed me to audition because they think I’m great,” “My parents think I’m really talented,” “I think I sound like Christina Aguilera” (um, no you don’t), “My friends think it’s awesome the way I do that thing with my hand while I sing” coming from horrendously vocally-challenged, camera-unfriendly performers.

Exhibit A: Darwin “Mischa” Reedy. Wearing a black skirt, black tights, white sneakers, gold silk-like long-sleeved shirt, and no bra supporting her FFF-sized bosom, this sloppy student/writer called her look “sexy,” and all I could do was gag. She proceeded to sing “Don’t Cha” by the Pussycat Dolls, whose album should have been released with a label on it that says, “Only the beautiful people allowed to sing along.” As Mishca awkwardly side-step dances, she whispers such seductive lines as, “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me/ Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was a freak like me” with a monotoned voice not heard of since Ben Stein’s performance in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

As she was given the boot, Mischa and her look-alike mom (her biggest supporter, of course) made a number of excuses for her poor performance, most of which I didn’t hear because I was laughing so hard. I don’t blame Mishca for her poor audition, though–I blame her mom. If she had put as much effort into honing Mischa’s other talents (they apparently co-wrote a novella together, so why not focus on her literary skills?) maybe she wouldn’t have made her the laughing stock of all of America.

Another girl, who unjustifiably called herself “Hotness,” claimed she was extremely talented (her friends said so) yet couldn’t sing a note, wouldn’t stop singing when asked to numerous times, and then cursed out the judges. Chica, your friends lied to you.

Another performer was a young guy named Kenneth–who could easily pass as Gollum for Halloween without much effort. Ken decided to accompany his song with a boy-band-inspired dance, which only made him look more ridiculous. He claims his friends think he’s great. Ken, your friends lied to you.

Now, I understand, most people want their 15 minutes of fame. And it’s even pretty cool when you get to live vicariously through your semi-famous friends: “Hey, my roommate played a corpse in last week’s episode of “Law and Order.” However, when those close to us ask for our opinions about their outfits, or their cooking, or their writing, or their singing ability, why do we so often fail to tell them our true feelings? Why are we so willing to completely destroy the self-esteem of the people we care about when it’s inevitable that one day someone not-so-candid will tell them the truth? Is it because we’re scared of being the ones to hurt their feelings? Probably, but whatever happened to being honest without being mean?

Another contestant with no singing ability, Amy Salgado, said her husband wasn’t supportive of her coming on the show, saying she was wasting her time. I don’t know whether Mr. Salgado went about telling his wife she shouldn’t try out in a nice, “I still love you even if you can’t sing” kind of way, but if he did, he should be applauded for doing what so many people failed to do.

So next time you’re out at a karaoke bar and your friends say your version of “Since U Been Gone” was waaaay better than Kelly Clarkson’s and that you could totally be the next “American Idol,” ask yourself these questions:

1. Is this friend always honest with me–even telling me things I don’t want to hear sometimes?
2. Does he/she like embarrassing me at any opportunity?
3. Has he/she had one too many apple martinis?

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