January 15, 2009

Setting the bar low.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that 'American Idol' isn’t the classiest show around. In the audition rounds, the tackier and more pathetic you are, the more likely you are to get screen time. Once the talent portion actually begins, short skirts and shiny tops abound – for the ladies at least (Perhaps you remember Haley Scarnato?). No, it’s never been the finest example of respectability, but it sunk to new lows during this week’s season premieres.

Exhibit A:

On Tuesday’s season premiere, the final audition from Phoenix they showed was a nearly blind 20-ish gentleman named Scott. Already it’s hard not to feel like this kid – moderately talented vocally, will probably go up a few notches when he gets behind his piano – is being exploited (We’ll save the blind kid for last – that’ll keep people watching!). Then, once the judges pass him onto Hollywood, he emerges to the cheers of his family – and to Ryan Seacrest trying to give him a high five.

Trying to high five a blind person. It’s bad enough that this happened – Seacrest himself was visibly embarrassed at the gaffe. But the fact that the producers – who have been editing these audition segments since August, and had plenty of time to piece together a montage of three dozen people singing Bon Jovi’s ‘Dead or Alive’ – left it IN is what really annoys me.

Exhibit B:

Oh Simon Cowell. In so many ways, I have a crush on you. You’re not as mean as you like to pretend, and you have a tendency to wink at people conspiratorially, and I kind of like it. But you also have a tendency to be chauvinistic (See: That twinkle in your eye as you advance Bikini Girl) and a little too opinionated about how people look and their outfits (See: Carly Smithson). On Wednesday’s show, Simon expanded his typically female-centric criticism and told one of the advancing guys that he didn’t like him because it looked like he was coming from a meeting with Bill Gates – “You know, that Silicon Valley type” – as far as I can tell, on the sole basis that this kid is probably Indian:

Simon, honey. He’s not an MIT student. You’re not near Silicon Valley. He just told you that he’s getting his masters from UNC in anthropology or something, and that his undergrad thesis was about Southern American culture, using barbeque as a sort of metaphor. You think that because he’s from South Asia, he HAS to be a computer geek? Let's try to keep such close-minded borderline racist comments to ourselves from now on, mmk?