Friday, January 19, 2007

Black & White & Idolized All Over

"The most insignificant people are the most apt to sneer at others. They are safe from reprisals. And have no hope of rising in their own self esteem but by lowering their neighbors."

-William Hazlitt

Self esteem... we all have it, yet a good deal of us have no idea what to do with it. I suppose that sounds like a bold statement coming from me, and it might be, but lately some things in the world have really been rubbing me the wrong way, and I can't help but wonder... where did we all go so profoundly wrong? What was the date that changed most American's into selfish, tunnel sighted, simpletons, who can only form opinions based on a book's cover, whether it be about voting for a president, or choosing the next American Idol? Maybe there wasn't one specific date that changed the American world... maybe we allowed our social bitterness to age gracefully, I don't know... you tell me... what is beautiful?

I am speaking specifically here about the ruckus being raised about the negativity that is the new season of FOX's hit show, American Idol. While I fully admit I am not a big fan of the show, and rarely, if ever, actually watch the show, I did happen to catch the last 30 minutes of Idol the other night, and I have to say, it did nothing to make a fan out of me. I found the big three... Simon, Paula and Randy, to be at their hurtful best, and in fact, managed to carry off pompousness and deceit, with a good deal of proficiency. As negative as it all was... it was still a ratings success. Why do folks watch something that demonstrates such harshness? I know that the justification for the actions of the "judges" is because the producers of the show want to show the whole process of finding the next idol, and what it takes to produce a diamond from the rough. But really, does it take psychological abuse, to produce an idol?

I get that not everyone who shows up to the American Idol auditions, has star potential. I get that sometimes it is amusing to hear someone sing woefully off key, I mean, didn't we all laugh at Lucy Ricardo, when she would hit those keys way off the mark? Yes, we did, because it was funny, and we knew, even if we didn't sit and dwell on it, that it was all in the script, and therefore we could laugh knowing no one was getting hurt. American Idol is NOT a sitcom, it is real people, with real hopes, trying to be a part of the American Idol experience. I think some who audition, know they have no talent, and so they try out for the humor and experience of it all. However, there are some who audition who really think they have a chance, when in fact, they have no chance at all. It's those individuals who my heart goes out to. They do not deserve to be made fun of, or belittled by the likes of Simon, Paula and Randy. Particularly disturbing to me was the remark made by Simon Cowell, to a contestant, Kenneth Briggs, regarding his physical appearance, calling him a "bush baby."

The young man didn't have the voice for the competition. It was pretty clear, but why did Cowell have to further insult this young man by making such a hurtful comment regarding his looks? How many folks at home laughed at this young man, simply because Simon Cowell made a joke at this man's expense? What is the deal with all the cheap shots about physical appearance flying about recently? Have we all forgotten what makes a person? Simon Cowell is, physically speaking, a nice looking man, but it only takes a couple moments, to change all that. All he has to do is speak, and the stupid pours out, and he goes from a nice looking man, to someone really quite ugly. And rather sad. I have to wonder, does his edge come from some buried inferiority complex? Have you ever known a bully? If so, when you look back, can you see how terribly sad and frightened they were? Isn't it strange, that it takes more courage to hold ourselves in a positive light, then in a negative one?

I was watching ABC's The View yesterday morning, and of course, the ladies talked a little about the previous nights episode of American Idol. All of the ladies agreed that it seemed a little over the top in terms of harshness, but Rosie O' Donnell took it a little further. "Isn't that what America thinks is entertainment? To make fun of someone's physical appearance and then when they leave the room, laugh hysterically at them... three millionaires, one possibly intoxicated (maybe referring to Paula Abdul's recent behavior) the whole thing, it's terribly sad to me." As much as I agreed with her, it occurred to me that she had done the very same thing last month, when speaking about Donald Trump. She made fun of the way Trump chooses to wear his hair, while giving forth the opinion that Trump should not be the moral compass for anyone. Hair/morals. Hair/Morals. I don't get it, does she mean to say that all men who sport bad comb overs are morally vacant?

On the other hand of cheap shots, did Donald Trump mean that all women who are overweight are in fact slobs? Or was he speaking only about Rosie? That was only one of the adjectives, the ever eloquent, Donald Trump, chose to describe Rosie with. Slob. I supposed he was a little miffed about the comb over remark. Shrug. Cheap shots, apparently equal high ratings. The View hasn't suffered under the nearly weekly verbal controversies springing forth from Rosie O' Donnell, thinly disguised as pearls of wisdom. We all tune in anyway, and if the truth were told, don't we kinda look forward to the next bit of negativity? Maybe just a little? I suppose I should raise my hand, I do look forward to hearing her make these remarks again, and again. I don't know what stands out more for me, her nerve, or her total lack of class and self-dignity. No matter who it is, when I hear someone being hurtful to another, I feel a little less respect for them. Why do so many go straight for another's appearance, even when the argument has more to do with the values, and personality?

Speaking as a woman who is way less then perfect, I know that I am someone who has value in the world, despite being only 4' 11 tall. I know that I have value, so does it really matter I have a few more gray hairs then I did five years ago? I know I have value, because I wouldn't hurt someone on purpose for any reason. I know I have value, because I was told for years by my own family, that I didn't. LOL. Those people lived to hurt others. At the age of 44, I have finally closed the door on their hurtful opinions of me. Maybe it's because I grew up in that atmosphere, but I can't tolerate it when I see someone hurting another for the sport of it all. Or for the ratings, or for the gain some feel by disregarding another. Would the world really be less interesting if we all decided to think before we speak? Does America really want idols, built on the pain, and self-esteem assassination of others? Sigh. Why does America allow crulty it succeed?

"The Pants"
Berkeley, California
January 17th, 2007

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