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May 23, 2006

Idol Ennui

I’ve been asked why I’m not writing about American Idol anymore. Given that tonight is the final round, this seems like an appropriate time to address my recent apathy.

Since the departure of my boy Chris Daughtry a couple of weeks ago, I could really care less who wins this thing. I know how strange that sounds, in that I was totally fired up just a few weeks back. But honestly, I think I’ll just be happy on Thursday that the show is finally completed.

Here’s the best comparison I can think of: watching the final rounds of this season’s Idol is like watching a 4x100m relay final in an international championship without the United States participating.

Despite my well-documented interest in trash TV, there’s nothing I like watching better than a World Championship or Olympic track meet. At these events, the American sprinters are always the class of the field, with a talent pool that far exceeds any other nation.

At every international competition, the US team is the favorite to win the relays, which are held after the individual events. The relays are the marquis races at these meets, and the excitement for them builds at a steady clip through the course of the meet.

Unfortunately, we also seem to breed sprinters with very slippery fingers, because our teams constantly struggle with relay exchanges. At three of the last six World Championships, and two of the last four Olympics, a US team (men or women) has failed to advance out of the qualifying rounds because of a dropped baton. At the Athens Olympics, a botched handoff was the reason the US men lost the gold medal by .01 of a second to England (I actually wasn’t too bothered by this. We beat England when it counted, 200 years ago. They can have a relay medal).

And when the US doesn’t make it to the final because they’ve failed to perform to their potential, it feels like a punch in the stomach. I shouldn’t get emotionally affected by a result that’s beyond my control and doesn’t directly impact me, but I do. I’ve stopped trying to change it.

What’s worse, we’re then left watching nations like France and England and Jamaica and Russia (no offense, Olga) and other countries that most of us don’t care about or respect nearly as much as our own. We know the most talented team isn’t taking part in the race, and we don’t have nearly the same interest in watching.

It’s not that the winner isn’t worthy. They still have to earn the medals by beating everybody else on the track. I simply become disinterested. I know somebody will win. Good for them. I don’t want to hear about it.

That’s how I’ve felt about this season’s American Idol finals.

In a way, it’s extra disappointing, because Chris never really dropped the baton – it just got voted out of his hands. In fact, the week he was voted off, he sang as well as or better than any other week this season. (Not only that, but the others had off nights. In the two previous weeks, Kat had a wardrobe malfunction and forgot the lyrics to a song. After most of her songs, the best thing the judges have to say to her is “Well, you look gorgeous...” How is that raising her game? I need to move on, I’m getting too upset here…)

So now we’ve got Katherine and Taylor in the musical equivalent of Jamaica vs Canada in the 4x100m relay. And while I don’t have any hard feelings about Jamaica or Canada (I mean, some of my best blogger friends are Canadian...), I know they only have a shot because the best talent is no longer in the competition. Is there anyone who thinks Chris wouldn’t blow either one of them off the stage if he hadn’t been robbed a couple weeks back?

It’s not that the winner isn’t worthy. He or she will have survived numerous cut-downs and vote-offs to remain the last person standing. I just recognize that the competition is not as exciting as it could be, and I don’t have the same passion about watching the outcome.

On Wednesday night I’ll probably tune in to the results show with the same ho-hum attitude as I would watch an Olympic final with no Americans. I’m curious to see who wins, and I’ll congratulate that person on the victory. Then I won’t give it another thought.

After all, there’s a big spelling bee coming up next week...


backofpack 5/23/06, 10:24 AM  

Thank you so much for providing me with reading material to go with my 2nd cup of tea! I count on you, you know.

I really thought tonight would be between Chris and Elliot. I think there must be more of the gray-haired generation voting than we know - plus all the pre-pubescent boys that are voting for Katherine based on those looks! She does have a good voice, but she needs a lot of polish. I can't believe she made it past the missed lyrics.

We'll probably miss tonight (first night of hamstring study) but will tune in tomorrow night - even though it will keep us up past bedtime.

Susan 5/23/06, 11:08 AM  

I agree - Kat should have gone that day. Forgetting lyrics? WTF is up with that.

Tonight is date night so I don't get to watch : (

stronger 5/23/06, 11:29 AM  

Maybe the spelling bee will inspire people to learn to spell "a lot" or "their" or "you're" and "too". Any chance?

Robb 5/23/06, 2:58 PM  

We'll probably watch it (even though we have our own trashy Canadian Idol to dump on).

I watched a preview trailer for the new Spelling Bee movie. It looks pretty cool, especially with Samuel L. Jackson as coach.

Fe-lady 5/23/06, 3:07 PM  

Hey-just wanted to say that I was with you all the way when I saw the clip on TV about the Alcatraz swim by the seven year old. Whoever anonymous is-well I pity that kid he/she is raising. Kids don't WANT to be making their own decisions at seven years of age. And I have worked with thousands of kids...! They want guidance and answers and help. Just had to rant...thanks!

Downhillnut 5/23/06, 4:04 PM  

I absolutely get it. It's like trying to keep up with the Stanley Cup playoffs when the Flames aren't in it.

We DO have Canadian Idol coming up, and "The Hockiest Town in Canada" competition as well, just to keep things interesting (sarcasm there).

Good thing I've got some longer runs to keep me busy :)

Oh yes, and the SPELLING!

teacherwoman 5/23/06, 4:17 PM  

I too was disappointed when we lost Chris on American Idol...and then Elliot last week. But I do beleive that Chris will make something of himself after this. GO CHRIS!!!

angie's pink fuzzy 5/23/06, 8:48 PM  

yep. we're boycotting. I just don't care now that Chris is gone. I have yet to meet someone who *wanted* Chris gone.

olga 5/23/06, 9:32 PM  

Well, I don't know about "most talented team", but I am in for boycotting. It should have been Chris vs Mandissa...ok, Elliot can be there too. I am kind of stuck watching because of Stephen, besides I am just curious who America thinks is the safest bet for the next few song-hits. Both are really bad.

Mike 5/24/06, 12:01 AM  

i've definitely lost interest lately in idol as well...totally agree with the best singers getting voted off...i though elliot was great as well...taylor is bit goofy but like alot of his song choices...cool that he picked a ray lamontagne song in the earlier rounds...

Scott 5/25/06, 3:46 AM  

As a Canadian, I find this post to be offensive beyond rebuttal.

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