this is not a democracy (so get over yourself)

They were talking about the whole American Idol scandal on NPR today, which reminded me that I should really blog about how I feel about that whole thing. Initially, my feeling was, great, maybe if this guy (or whoever ends up being the worst, as Howard Stern and votefortheworst.com are encouraging America to vote) wins and it's a huge scandal, the producers of the show will nix the whole voting procedure entirely. As much as I appreciate, intellectually of course, popular culture at its most popular, in practice it doesn't usually work too well. Don't leave it up to America.

Which is precisely the second wave of emotion I felt driving home today, hearing NPR's coverage of the situation. Who, among the people who are so upset by this "vote for the worst" campaign, really believes America votes for the most talented singer to begin with? Granted, talent is always going to be a subjective thing, even among a panel of "experts," but America is voting for a whole lot more than vocal chops, if even that. That's why the show's called American Idol and not, like, America's Next Top Vocalist. Just like it's not necessarily the best technical dancer who wins So You Think You Can Dance. That show, which, I think, is a bit more honest in its voting expectations, crowns America's Favorite Dancer. Favorite can mean a lot of things, not just skill, technique, or talent even.

And aren't Randy, Paula, and Simon ultimately responsible for the batch of finalists, at which point America is invited to chime in? Out of hundreds of thousands of auditions, can't they come up with a talent-proof group of, what is it, 32 finalists?

Moving backwards along the controversial continuum of reality television, as I've mentioned here before, I took to watching the televised search for the new Pussycat Doll. I stand by what I pointed out at that time, which is that the only reason I'm watching is because it's taken the place of Veronica Mars for nine or so weeks. What am I supposed to do, read or something?

The show has proved fairly entertaining, though, I must say. As usual with reality shows of the contest format, I'm not convinced they couldn't have found a more solid bunch of finalists (which proves my point...this medium has little to do with actual talent). I'm sure there were better singers and dancers out there who, perhaps, didn't score quite as high on the hotness factor. And initially I thought someone like Chelsea, who can sing and who seems cute/hot enough, can always improve her dancing skills. After which it immediately dawned on me that producers and engineers can make the worst vocalist (who's maybe a better/hotter dancer/performer) sound pretty good. But mostly, the best thing about the show is its simple and straight-forward list of qualities that they're looking for in the next Pussycat Doll, a sort of lesson to be learned from each episode. So far we've learned the importance of:

1.) Confidence
2.) Persona
3.) Creativity
4.) Sexiness

It was really hard to tell from the teaser what next episode's lesson will be.

As for ANTM, as much as I look forward to watching the show each week, I think my lack of blogging about it says a little something about how, perhaps, my overall enthusiasm for the show has really dwindled these last two cycles. The girls who bug me continue to be among the judges' favorites, but I'm not as fired up about it as I was initially. The whole plus-size model non-debate (because it's not happening on the show) really irks me. Let's just say that I'm not exactly 5'10" and 105 pounds, so on the one hand, I support the show encouraging diversity in the modeling business, but on the other hand, I've never been exactly blown away by the plus-size models they've had on the show. Just like I'm not necessarily going to vote a woman into the presidency just because she's a woman. You still have to be able to model, regardless of your waistline. So it kind of annoys me that just about everything I read about the show (even Entertainment Weekly had a little snippet a few weeks ago...something like "two plus size models - yay!") touts the fact that there were two plus size models in the top 13. I'm just not convinced that that's so amazing or groundbreaking in and of itself.

But the thing that really annoys me (do you sense a theme in this post?) happened on last night's episode. Okay, so Renée can be a bit of a handful at times, but, to quote Cher in Clueless, "that was way harsh." She put herself out there in her "revelation," albeit in a slightly defensive manner, initially, claiming she was misunderstood (aren't we all, though), but to put her on the spot like that and invite each girl to describe how they were personally hurt or offended by her and then not let Renée really speak to that (what more could she do in that situation than meekly apologize) was totally unfair. I think it would have been better to put each girl in that position, because none of them are exactly innocent.

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