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Tuesday, February 06, 2007
American Idol and the new form of sex and violence

Yo Dog. What's going on with American Idol this season? The humiliation factor seems higher than ever. It's like these auditions are more about embarrassing and humiliating people than it is to introduce us to the future contestants. They are working the same formula that shows like Alias and 24 use. Take Alias for instance, the first couple of seasons it was pure plot. Then season three (and did they even make a season 4?) turned from plot to porn. They just kept incrementally showing us more and more of Jennifer Garner. 24 seems to be going the same direction with respect to violence. It's fascinating that 24 never seems to play the "skin" card, yet they always play the violence card. These torture sessions just get worse and worse. Within the first few hours this season we had Jack Bauer biting a guy to death in the jugular and then a nuclear bomb detonation killing 12,000 people. It's a shock factor of sorts and the only place they can go with that is "more shocking." Doesn't this seem to be the deal with Idol this time?

Back to Idol- It's still early in the game and the humiliation factor is already off the charts. To keep our interest, they have to keep turning up the humiliation. Reality TV has introduced us to the new sex/violence factor: humiliation. Why does it work so well? So how else might they keep us from getting bored with it?

I am also reminded of my earlier analysis of what makes the show so appealing. It's the dysfunctional family dynamic. Check that out HERE.
posted by John David Walt | at 2/06/2007 10:07:00 PM



Blogger Raegan said...

Hey John David!

I have been disappointed with 24 this season. It has lots the plot and ethical dilemmas that it had in the beginning. As for American Idol, I cannot even watch it. I know that these people agree to be on TV but no one deserves to be treated in the way they are treated. It is clear that the Idol Judges do not see each person as being made in the imago Dei. When did we decide that it is okay to belittle and humiliate people for the sake of entertainment? But I guess that is what comedians have been doing for a long time. If you ever watch Jay Leno and Jay Walking, the whole segment is based on humiliating people. And why? So we can all feel better about ourselves. It makes us feel like we are in the in-club and the others are the losers. Welcome to High School! It is a sad place to be, but that is just my two cents! Take Care!


9:48 AM EST  
Blogger eli said...

idol...i've never been a fan. my wife is but she won't watch it until they're down to the final 20 or so and it becomes about the entertainment evaluation, not the lack of entertainment ridiculefest. i, like raegan above, am disappointed with 24. much of what has been said is the majority of the problem, but also i feel like the directing has taken on a soap opera feel...lots of long close up pain in the face shots. and, okay, why would CTU cart off jack's sister-in-law and nephew (of course we're going to find out that it is in fact his son...because it is THAT predictable at this point) and leave the two people who are the actual suspects roaming unattended around the house? bad and inauthetic writing. i'll quit moaning now.

11:43 AM EST  
Anonymous JP said...

Idol is only giving the audience what the audience wants. Now that the weird auditions are over, we'll get to see more of the quality singers, I think. As well, given the explosive success of Idol finalists in the last 2 years, they know that only the best of the best deserve to go on.
(taylor, mcphee, daughtry, pickler, paris, the country hick dude) all have albums coming out. Season one, only kelly clarkson (where o where is justin guarini?)
Two years - carrie and bo both have albums.
Last year - 6 have albums.
Anyone who makes the top 10 is fairly guaranteed to get something out of it....so I see the judges being pretty honest with people about their abilities. Take out the handful (and it's only been a handful) of high-attention shamings (1 or 2 per show average in these audition shows), and the majority of the time, the judges are simply saying, "wake up, you can't really sing and your friends haven't been honest with you, singing is not a future career for you."
So, all that to say this,
I see what Idol is doing is truth-telling (yes, some love and mercy could be more present). How much grief and anguish these folks could have been saved if someone who really "loved" them (familiy and friends) would have been more honest with them and told them singing wasn't their thing? Instead it's left up to surrogate parents/caretakers Simon, Paula, and Randy to be honest with the people. The contestants know what they are likely to hear yet they still come up for it and want it, even if they don't like what is said.
The larger theological or philosophical issue (if there is one) with Idol is: why do so many thousands of people desire to be told the truth about their talent, and why do so many millions of people want to see it happen? Aren't what we are saying by our participation/watching is that we wish people would really just say what they think, instead of lying to us. We're attracted to watching Idol because we see it happen and it's so rare in "real life."
This was way longer of a comment than I intended, but I'd like to hear feedback from Farmstrongers on it.

11:52 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

off topic: Are you going to ne at Thirsty 07 and if so could I possibly try to catch up with you during latenight. My goal is to volunteer for latenight I have to work during the day. Please email me... kathepoo@tmail.com


1:10 PM EST  
Anonymous chad said...

thanks for chapel today, I have been waiting for an explanation of those charts....it was great JD

4:42 PM EST  
Blogger Amie Lou said...

great chapel...

it was cool to see those pics that have already been posted up here - it was an odd deja vu moment :)


9:35 PM EST  
Anonymous matt maher said...

That tv show is the new Colosseum for the new Rome. We watch the murder of people's self esteem and character; and we cheer it on, hoping someone will survive and emerge victorious.

5:38 PM EST  

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