no reality present
the 'American Idol' vibe
you allow me to commit rock-crit suicide and admit that sometimes
I want to write like Lester Bangs?
Not that I want my words to sound like his, just that I'd love
to be able to forgo the "musts" of professional journalism:
finding a subject, learning about that subject, writing coherently.
How much nicer would it be to just blather about how drunk I am,
what I'm doing at the moment, and include a few plangent anecdotes
about my life that relate vaguely to the Pink Floyd album I've been
listening to incessantly?
this: instantly transporting oneself to a happy place.
Much, much nicer, at times. Like this one:
"But, but ..." my readers sputter. "When have you
ever, even remotely, resembled a rock critic?" they opine.
Though it's not the point, point taken.
So I'm freshly back from the Aalto Lounge (where my art hangs currently
plug, plug) with a glass of wine under my belt and no dinner.
And, since I haven't done a damn thing to satisfy my "professional
mandates" as a music reviewer, I'm left wondering: How do
I spin my fascination with the current American Equity Mortgage
jingle into a legitimate column?
One way is to waste a paragraph break on a single two-word sentence.
Another is to speak with great passion about that jingle, a jingle
that quite cleverly employs musical techniques to make you feel
that if you just buy a new house or refinance your current one,
you'll be instantly transported to a happy place where your grandmother
is serving you cookies and milk in front of a crackling fire.
Despite that jingle's lyrical content, featuring the line "the
future belongs to you," the whole feel is one of nostalgia.
Boozy horn charts contrapuntally evoke Lawrence Welk at his most
comforting; they speak of wainscoting at the Georgian Room and a
new Chrysler LeBaron every two
stars: the Andrews Sisters.
Singing women entice you to seize your future in a new home with
a lilt that would make the Andrews Sisters thank their lucky stars
for knob and tube wiring.
Yes, it's brilliant Baby Boomer/Generation-X recidivist programming
playing on faded, misleading memories born of the fantasy that their
own parents carried on from their parents' depression-era lives.
A corny, third generation marketing illusion.
And, seriously, I hope they didn't put that much thought into it.
That would mean your advertising agencies are filled with lushes
bigger than I. But whatever the case, the ad is working for me.
I think I'll go refinance right now!
Might need to lower those mortgage payments, too, if I keep wasting
my time watching the other American dream: "American Idol."
While shirking my duties as a "rock critic" I find it
fun to be a few decades behind the times and deconstruct "Idol."
not: fun to hate on Simon.
It's interesting how, through airtight scripting, reality television
has risen to the level of genetic engineering.
From herd-instinct mocking of (regrettably) idiotic people, to
thrilling to the ready-made "success" stories it portrays,
"Idol" plays the viewers' strings like an expert harpist.
And, like expert TV, it's really entertaining, even if just to
hate on Simon, who is more needlessly cruel than ever this season.
But, after the first few episodes of gaping at the delusional qualities
of the poor aspirants who are obviously mostly insane and
let through just to generate a few good moments of leering pathos,
things get as boring as the ultimately uninspiring cookie-cutter
singers that rise to the top.
I guess that's what you get when you conjure up an exaggerated,
accelerated version of a seemingly "natural" process that
takes years in the real world. One thing for sure is that there's
no reality present in this reality music series, wherein tens of
thousands of singers are lead to believe (Oh, if only for an instant!)
that they can circumvent the realities of life.
the broadest audience: reassuring and bland.
That's why many of the daydreamers who make it on camera for their
first and last time presume that almost being able to almost carry
a tune is a righteous claim to the "Idol" throne.
As if we needed any other reasons to realize what a carefully crafted
freak-show "Idol" is, ask yourself this: If the show is
really about finding the next all-purpose, lowest common denominator
pop-star, why let people through who clearly can't win, such as
the square-headed cowboy who sings to his turkey?
See, now I'm hooked on the cheap laughs, too. That's how insidiously
these sensationalistic "human interest" tales rook you
into embracing the "Idol" vibe.
Popular culture like "Idol" and radio advertising reach
the broadest audience by being reassuring and bland; here in America
we like to take that culture in homes we feel are our birthright
to own, knowing full well that all we need is one break to become
the next ubiquitous superstar millionaire.