Was I the only person who didn't watch the finale of "American Idol" last week? Viewership is actually on the decline, but you wouldn't know it by the buzz at work and my kids' school. Although I'm usually too exhausted to turn on the TV most weeknights, and the show thankfully came on after my daughters' bedtime, I had to pass for other reasons.
Namely, that the country's biggest pop spectacle is a big fat portent of cultural doom.
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I start to feel morning sickness all over again when I think that my kids are growing up with the idea that you can "rock" your way into becoming a pop star if you look and dance just so, and happen to be able to parrot some good cover tunes. Where's the originality?
If we had left it up to AI, we probably never would have experienced David Bowie. Or Jimi Hendrix. Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Billie Holiday, John Lennon, Bjork, Mama Cass, Morrissey and Mick Jagger, to name a few musical greats who don't fit neatly into the general culture's bland ideals of "talent." If video killed the radio star, then AI fans are a bunch of necrophiliacs who took it one step further.
Can you imagine what the AI judges would say to jazz legend Louis Armstrong today?
Simon: "Nice try, buddy, but you sound like gravel in a blender."
Paula: "Ha, ha, good one, Simon. BTW, what's up with those cheeks?"
Randy: "Yo, dog, New Orleans is on the line and it wants you back."
AI ranks up there with malls, chain restaurants, Starbucks, Guitar Hero and other icons of sameness. It's the soul-less "Give people what they want" mentality that has dumbed down our radio stations and newspapers. Idol overkill, coming soon in a concert crapfest near you, is corrupting an entire generation's ability to appreciate music.
Of course, there are other reasons to hate AI. How 'bout the shameless product placement? Let's all watch host Ryan Seacrest drink an ice cold Coca-Cola ™ and munch cheesy Doritos ™ while sitting inside the all new Ford Mustang ™ convertible and pretend it's all a coincidence.
But, really, the worst thing about letting our kids think AI is cool is that the show is built on a foundation of bullying. It makes entertainment out of hurting and humiliating other people. Sure, there are some talented folks who make it to the finals, but without the clueless, excited and hopefully ignorant people embarrassed and bashed for our pleasure, this show wouldn't be half so popular. And there's nothing to idolize about that.