Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Reality Shows Are About Whose Reality, Again?

Been rewatching my tapes of the So You Think You Can Dance series and have fallen in love, again, with Benji. I hold firmly to my belief that that young man can dance to anything and doesn't have any bones connected to anything! Funny how no one really wanted him in the beginning. Doesn't it make you wonder what planet the judges come from, other than trying to revive old careers? The public invariably picks someone other than the one they declared would be the winner. Hmmmm. What does that say about the judges, about the critics, about Americans? Do we really care less about quality and training and more about looks?

I know these shows are all about entertaining us but aren't they also supposed to be about finding the absolute best performer? With American Idol just around the corner, Ruben Studdard comes to mind. He was all right. A perfect karaoke singer who was capable of following a tune. There was literally nothing special about him -- except, maybe, his girth.

The man would literally just stand there and sing in his sing-along-to-the-radio voice and Simon, Randy, and Paula would fall all over themselves trying to outdo each other in giving him accolades.

Good grief! The American viewers put him in the bottom three to go home at least three times! Yet, the judges kept telling us how dumb we were and how great Ruben was. I recall one session, especially, where they were doing the songs and all three judges attacked Clay Aiken for not moving around enough on stage during his performance. He was followed by Ruben, who barely moved, at all, was sweating like crazy, voice raw and cracking, and they went crazy with their praise and never once mentioned that he should have moved around more on the stage to try to engage his audience. Double standard?

Today, his records aren't doing the bang-up job expected and he's just won a lawsuit against his manager for mishandling of funds. Fantasia Barrino's records are selling in the middle range, and Clay Aiken has already returned to North Carolina. There'll be tours, but nothing like it was in the beginning.

Kelly Clarkson has moved into the stratosphere, to stay. She's the full package. In my opinion, this proves that you can't shove "stars" down the people's throats.

Those in the final top ten get their piece of the pie, as well. The runners-up have managed to carve their own niche in the music world, as well. Carrie Underwood has taken the Country world by storm and you can hear her latest Don't Forget to Remember Me song here. And Diana DeGarmo, from the 2004 American Idol season is now touring the country in Broadway: The Musical after debuting on Broadway in Hairspray.

My point is, the people make the final judgment, once all the hoopla of a TV show is over. It's a great platform for aspiring stars and they should understand that, from the beginning. Those that treat it as a perfectly normal event in the course of their lives are foolish, indeed.

Ask anyone who's been working their whole lives for recognition how easy it really is -- and, 22 years old isn't someone's whole life. Taylor Hicks (another dark horse, according to the judges) is on the far edge of a very young group, all things considered, and has really paid his dues. And, he was my favorite! Although, I will admit it helped in validating that grey hair was perfectly okay; especially, since it knocked about ten years off my life! But, truth be told, I like to see winners who really know what the struggle is all about finally have good things happen to them.

So, the new season starts this month and I'll be watching, along with everyone else. I'll pick my favorites and see how close my pick comes in at the end. And, that will be fun. But, nothing compares to watching the auditions! Nothing. It's the gravy on a great talent audition show.

Of course, I'm also laying in lots of popcorn for the Donald's show, The Apprentice, on Sunday. These are my three favorite reality shows, So You Think You Can Dance, American Idol, and The Apprentice -- because, they actually lead up to a long-term positive change in the applicant's life.

Most of the other shows offer celebrity fame, which means we're going to be forced to watch them for the rest of their lives show up for guest appearances on whatever the current talk/game show might be, not because of anything they did requiring skill, craft, or intelligence, showing they have at least put some of their own effort into the competition, but because they were pretty to look at during their fifteen minutes of fame. Aaarrrggghhhh.

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