I don’t watch American Idol*. I don’t DVR it, and I don’t chat about it at work*. I don’t even know how the show works*, because I have better things to do.* I was thinking about how the gag reel is compiled for these shows. You know, the first two weeks where they just show people who BOMBED. Think of William Hung here, or the ‘Pants on the Ground’ guy. It’s often genuinely funny stuff… until I started thinking about it. Here is what is fucked up.
These folks show up with a football stadium full of folks. Literally, the auditions are held at football stadiums, which house between 60 and 80,000 folks. So, long long before you get to the judges, you go through several tiers of production assistants. I have to imagine each person probably auditions for 6 to 10 separate people before ever making it on TV. To filter through that many folks takes several days. When they taped in Denver, the contestants showed up on a Monday. The judges didn’t fly in until Friday. By then, the producers had it whittled down to probably about 30 to 40 folks for the judges to see. At this point, the talent is cut to either great, or super bad gag reel.
Obviously, they don’t tell the sucky ones that they are coming back for the gag reel. No. They have been told by a large committee of people they are great, and going through to the next round. They get closer and closer. They are sequestered with the super awesome talented folks over the course of the week. They sign tv waivers, and are given hair and makeup help. They are told they are going to be on national tv. You can imagine they have told ALL their friends how far they made it. “they want me back. I made all the auditions. This is really my chance. I am going to be a star. I just had to sign this huge waiver with Viacom that gives them rights to my likenesses and recordings. They wouldn’t do that unless they were serious”. Yet, every single producer and person with a headset and clipboard knows they are going to be a failure on a national level.
It is evil to string these people along for several days and weeks over many auditions to get them to the point where they fail in front of millions. MILLIONS. For every one of these people, it will be the single most significant event of their lives. That goes for the winners and the losers. If you think about the process, It’s just dickish. I am as big a fan of Schadenfreude entertainment® as anyone. In fact, I am pretty sure I just invented that term right now. But, this is cruel. This is, in no uncertain terms, bullying. I am going to fuck with your mind so hard that in about 3 months you are going to be mocked by ten million people. They will use you as a commercial bumper to tease folks to come back. Many will DVR this, so they can re-watch you blow it. The next morning, on every Fox affiliate, Chuckle and friends will show your clip.
You are ruining these people’s lives. It isn’t Fox, or American Idol, or Randy Jackson. it is you. You watch this shit, which bankrolls it, and validates it.
I am not going to watch these shows anymore*, and neither should you.
*footnote. these are likely lies