February 3, 2005

State of the Union versus "American Idol."

I don't know why Drudge is flipping out that "'AMERICAN IDOL' TOPS NETWORK COVERAGE FOR STATE OF UNION," as the current banner over there says. "Idol" ended several minutes before Bush began his speech. Why would you expect that many people to watch all the extra talk on either side of the speech? I TiVo'd "American Idol" and not any news coverage. Most of that news talk was pretty tedious!

Actually, "American Idol" was kind of bad last night. I suppose they thought San Francisco would produce some colorful contestants, but it didn't really. I had my laptop out and would have TiVo-blogged, as I usually do with "American Idol," but I was uninspired. The only thing interesting was the way that one woman looked -- the one with the really big hair.

Anyway, I see Drudge is writing: "The U.S broadcast TV audience would rather watch freaks sing out of tune than President Bush and Democrats wax politics, overnight ratings show."

"Wax politics"? Presumably, "wax political" was intended.

Anyway, the ratings only show we'd rather watch "American Idol" than another hour of talking heads jabbering about the State of the Union. I'd say that shows excellent judgment on the part of the "U.S. broadcast TV audience." And I note that a large number the people who really like to watch news analysis shows would be over on the cable news channels, not the broadcast TV.

Finally, I object to the description of "American Idol" as "freaks sing[ing] out of tune." That fails to comprehend the fascination with the show. You never know when you first see a contestant -- who may look freakish, ordinary, beautiful, or awful -- what voice is going to come out. Much of the suspense and humor comes from the mismatch between voice and physical image. Hearing bad singing sharpens your appreciation for the good singing, and seeing the people who haven't worked hard enough, are just fooling around, or are in the grip of a terrible delusion, prepares you to really care about the few young people who really are wonderfully good or are sympathetic for some other reason.

UPDATE: Here's the Television Without Pity mini-recap of last night's San Francisco episode, which calls the woman with the big hair "incredibly magnetic and beautiful." Her name is Nadia Turner, by the way. Actually, that recap is reminding me of some fairly interesting things I'd blocked out. I think there was an idea that, being in San Francisco, they'd have a gay theme, but then, because it's a family show and because a lot of things would be too cruel or in too bad taste, they couldn't really push it to the point where it would be entertaining.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's an MSNBC critic displaying zero understanding of the show: "If 'American Idol' was truly about showcasing talent, why not actually focus on those who have a chance? ... For the sake of attempting to create an interesting segment, a producer nearly sacrificed Rich's chance at realizing his dreams. .... For a show that pretends to be a singing contest ... There's no excuse for this distorted focus ...." These sound like the sort of complaints a rejected contestant might come up with. The "focus" is only "distorted" if the point of the show were really fixed on one specific thing, as opposed to entertaining us in any number of different ways, using -- in the pre-live show phase -- the footage produced by the auditions.

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Tito Maury said...
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