J Walking

J Walking

Kudos to the Idol Makers

So American Idol’s “Idol Gives Back” is in full swing. In case anyone missed it, American Idol, the wonderfully popular reality/talent show is hosting a two-night charity-oriented event called “Idol Gives Back.” The goal is to raise buckets of money to help charities that feed, clothe, and care for the poor both here in America and overseas. Bono is involved and so are a score of other celebrities and singers.

Let’s dispense with the cynicism at the top. Is this good business for the Idol franchise? Of course. It is brilliant marketing – it gets more people to watch Idol because the more people who watch and vote the more money gets raised. On top of that, it is good because a show that tinkers with America’s heartstrings already – letting us fall in love with singers and their stories and ride their triumphs and downfalls with them – is giving us an even deeper attachment to the show. Golly, what good guys they must be, they want us to believe.


And? So? Great, I say. Let’s have more of it. I hope 100 million people watch American Idol, I hope they raise a billion dollars. I hope Bono gets lots of people involved in caring the poor and the hurting. I hope Idol thrives like never before.

Why? Because I hope that they shame/inspire/manipulate every other television show to do exactly the same thing. Let’s have that “Dancing with the Stars dance-a-thon” and let’s have the “Deal or No Deal for Hunger” and the “Survivor to help Survivors.” While we are at it how about CSI “For Real” raising money to help victims of crime? Let’s get every show raising money in hopes of improving ratings.

Will it make them more money too? Maybe. But will it do good? Absolutely and right now we still need a lot of good done – I come back to this horrid statistic. 24,000 children die every day of hunger. 24,000…a day. Let billionaires with jets give and little kids with piggy banks. Screw their motivations, it is time to just smile and take the money and help those who need it.

So let’s all watch Idol tonight and make it the greatest success in television history and watch what happens next. After all, Hollywood loves copying a success story.

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posted April 25, 2007 at 4:59 pm

I’d characterize your tone as “Machiavellian philanthropy” I love it.

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posted April 25, 2007 at 5:21 pm

Blessed are the idolators?

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posted April 25, 2007 at 9:46 pm

I remember a discussion in high school about whether one does anything out of selfless motives. It is hard to find any act that does not in some way benefit one’s own self, even what seem to be purely instinctive spur-of-the-moment acts such as grabbing a kid out of the way of an oncoming vehicle.Failing to help might result in unbearable guilt, so it is in the end a selfish act. What is important is that these shows are finding a way to tie in good citizenship with their own success. That something will benefit the doer should not be used to denigrate the act. But those looking for a reason to crticize will try their best to tarnish the project.

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