March 29, 2008

"This wasn't Nikki over Tamyra bad, or certainly John Stevens and Jasmine Trias over Jennifer Hudson... bad, but..."

What can we learn about America's struggle over race through "American Idol"?

14 comments:

Mortimer Brezny said...

Was he booted before that terrible midget boy who cannot sing? That boy warbled a Stevie Wonder song horribly. That's when I stopped watching this season. But that David Cook knows how to make a remake!

Trooper York said...

This really wasn't a racial issue since Cha-cheese-ie really didn't sing very well. He had the right idea when he used his energy and enthusiasm to whip up the crowd. The cowgirl used the patriotism ploy which is all that saved her; she will be out this week. I think a lot of the black contestants actually try to be too bland and mainstream, if Cha-cheese-ie had done some hard core soul or R&B he would have went much further in the competition. But the powers to be don’t want that. He had to play to his audience to build a voting block that would stick with him. Soul and R&B fans could have been that block. To steal a play out of David Cooks game plan, there are tons of arrangements of old school soul and R&B songs that he could have knocked out of the park. And to address the "black man" aspect, the only black male singers who are really accepted in mainstream music are damaged or non-threatening in some way:

Gay: Johnny Mathis, Luther Vandross
Blind: Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder.
Fat: Barry White, Rueben

A real active manly black singer is relegated to the rap market or is marginalized to the mainstream audience that is sought by Idol. People like Brian McNight and Maxwell and Nelly and Jay-Z and Usher are multi-million dollar sellers and very popular and rich but you won't see their ass on American Idol because it is geared to gap toothed, house coat wearing, wheel chair ridden women sitting in their own pee in their trailer.

GOD, I LOVE AMERICAN IDOL. IT'S CRAPTASTIC!!!!!!!

John Z. said...

If you're going to go all the way back to Johnny Mathis to make your point, then what about guys like Nat King Cole, James Brown, Lionel Richie, Marvin Gaye, Prince, etc. Not damaged in any way that I can see.

Also, if you think black male singers have to be non-threatening, name a threatening mainstream white singer.

SteveR said...

Boring rendition of a boring song from someone with no marigin for error, simple as that.

Trooper York said...

Well it's a degree of threatening demeanor that I am talking about. And I am talking about mega-mainstream success which none of the singers you mentioned really achieved. In fact you have a point that most big time mainstream male singers who are white are also non-threaten. I am strictly talking about the people American Idol is taking as a role model. Barry Manilow, Rod Stewart, Kenny Rogers. This season Neil Diamond. Not an Axel Rose or Jim Morrison or Billy Joe or Johnny Rotten or Mick Jagger or Henry Rollins among them. (Not that all of those guys are mega stars, but some are on the same sales and popularity level as Jay-Z or Usher). The issue of black singers has always been mixed up with the legacy of minstrel behavior where clownishness covered up complicated issues. Singers often had to play the clown. Sometimes white male singers can have a harder image and still be mega popular. Sammy Davis Jr/Frank Sinatra. Little Richard/Elvis. Prince/Bruce Springsteen. Take the last example. Springsteen is portrayed as the hard core blue collar working man while Prince is the fey midget who gets lots of girls but whose diminutive stature is not scary so to speak. Take James Brown. A contempory with a basicly equivalent career would be Johnny Cash. Look at how he ended up being covered by Rock Stars like Bono and Tom Petty as opposed to James Brown whose music was much more influential in current terms. Where are the James Brown tribute albums, bio-pics and Broadway plays? Lionel Ritchie? Bland non-threatening Romeo type, a caramel covered Englebert Humperdink . Marvin Gaye was a special case. He died for your sins.

PatCA said...

A truly absurd essay from the LAT and Exhibit 1 of their bias and their stunning fall in paying readers.

The more the media write, the more Obama lectures us, about race, the more they ensure his loss in November.

Maguro said...

The reason Johnny Cash is so admired by the rock star set is mostly his high-profile politics. You don't see U2 covering a bunch of Merle Haggard songs, for example.

Also, I don't get the Prince/Springsteen comparison. Each would look absurd if they adopted the other's image but so what? Are you saying that a short black guy wearing work boots and flannel shirts would be perceived as threatening?

Trooper York said...

I don't know but I would pay good money to see Bruce put on eyeshadow and a purple jumpsuit and sing "Kiss" on the big stage.

Trooper York said...

My basic point is that American Idol plays to the bland. You won't see 50 cent or Sex Pistols songs. I just think that Cha-cheese-ie needed to broaden his horizon from bland Luther to a more soul/R&B vibe, even if that is not the way the powers to be pushed. He did great with the Ray Charles song where his energy got him fans. He just missed a bet by going bland and non-threatening. It’s like when the professor blog’s about arcane legal issues and gets six comments. When she writes about breasts and pictures of dogs urinating: over 100 comments. Ya gotta go with your strength.

Maguro said...

Agreed...it would certainly be an improvement on Bruce's usual act.

Zeb Quinn said...

Nobody gets "voted off" AI. Everybody remaining there, including the eventual winner, got there and stays there because they were voted on. The contestants who do the best have a schtick or some kind of angle that connects with the audience enough to create a following, and obviously the bigger the following the better. So the question is why black males haven't been able to do that well. It's obviously not racial. So what is it?

Trooper York said...

You have to develop a constituency and appeal outside of your normal voting block. Rueben won because he was an adorable teddy bear, people who liked gospel and soul, church people, and everyone who wanted to see the chubby guy win to stick it to the powers that be. That’s a winning coalition. Little Damien Archuleta has the tweener vote locked up as Jordan Cinderella Sparks did when the little birds sang with her at Disneyland. When they push "rocker" guys like Daughtry and Cook and Bo Bice, they do good for a while but can't attract other votes whose favorites have already left. You have to play the game and pick up the delegates who are released from their commitment. It just turned out the Cha-cheese-ie was David Patterson and not Barack Obama.

rightwingprof said...

"it is geared to gap toothed, house coat wearing, wheel chair ridden women sitting in their own pee in their trailer"

And 12 year-old girls who read teen magazines and swoon over ryan seacrest. See Ninjaya or whatever his name was last season. Remember the little girl who cried? Or that sissyboy with the dyed hair last season, the one who did that crap into the microphone. Or Ace, the child molester wannabe the season before. Come on. AI is complete crap from beginning to end. It has produced exactly one star: Carrie Underwood.

I'd rather do something interesting like clip my dogs' toenails than watch that crap.

Trooper York said...

Well I wasn't putting those people down; they are America just as much as over educated didactic Legal pontificators. American Idol is much more fun than another episode of Law and Order Commie Bullshit spreading liberal pap from the pages of today’s newspapers. Or CSI Miami which you should only watch for the sunglasses drinking game where you do a shot when the red headed douche takes off his glasses. American Idol is just a bunch of people trying to sing and please people. It is a lineal descendant of the old fashioned variety show which had singing and dancing and little comedy skits. And it's one of the few shows you can watch with you kids where you don't have to worry about a serial killer molesting brownies in a pit in his basement while FBI agents figure out where he is form a discarded Kleenex and a cigarette butt.

Plus Syesha’s got really nice tits.