I’m not really ashamed or closeted about what I’m going to write about. Everyone who knows me, knows this about me. (And as you’ll see from this super-long blog that I’ve spent way too much time thinking about all of this.) Okay. Here goes:
I have Reality Show Singing Competition Addiction Disorder.
Phew. I said it. Okay, I wrote it, but now I’ll whisper it, and that means it’s out in the universe.
It didn’t start with American Idol, though that’s where it started for many of us with RSSCAD. (I still remember watching that first night. I had just come home from living in New York and was living with my friends B&G. B and I were like ‘huh, that looks interesting’. He was a musical performer and I sometimes pretended I sang. So when American Idol started that year, I was hooked.)
But it goes deeper than this.
When I was a kid, I watched the Lawrence Welk show.
Now, I was too young to watch the original show. When it aired originally there wasn’t much else on TV so you HAD to watch it. No. I watched it in heavy rerun rotation. On PBS. In the 80s. When I was a tormented teenager with a shaved head. At that time, there was probably a thousand other things to watch but I CHOSE Lawrence Welk. There was, I don’t know, something about the frilly costumes, the non-threatening male singers, the big band in the background. It appealed to something primal in me.
Sometimes, I still watch the show and I laugh and laugh and laugh. It’s comfort food for me. It’s my tuna noodle casserole of TV.
So. I returned to my obsession with American Idol. Then I watched Dancing With The Stars until I suffered a severe quilting accident when I was cutting material and ran right over my finger. I was distracted by the Pasa Double. Then I started watching these new shows AND I CAN’T STOP. I watched Glee, and then X Factor, and now The Voice.
Why? Why do I do this? Why does anyone? Why are these shows so freaking popular?
I have theories.
American Idol is like this generation’s Laurence Welk. It’s frothy and predictable and comforting as a casserole. It’s also getting really boring, but I still watch it because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feeling.
X Factor wants to be the hottest show on the planet, but mostly it’s just overeager. I was this way sometimes with crushes. I’d have a crush so fierce that I’d start to obsess over the guy and then I’d force him to have coffee and then I’d get all over eager and desperate and slightly creepy with the energy I was expending for him to Fall In Love With Me. Yeah. I think X Factor is a little desperate. They want to be loved SO MUCH that they’re trying to arm-wrestle the audience. “These are stars!” they bellow. “Suffer!”
You know, I think real stars have talent, but they also have a sense of mystery. With X Factor’s endless harping on contestant’s backstory, I get really tired. I don’t want endless backstory. I just want people in pretty outfits singing for their life.
In fact, sometimes I think X Factor wishes they could make singers sing for their life. Literally.
I’ll probably watch the 2nd season, because I’m a addict, but I’ll do it reluctantly. I don’t feel comforted when I watch X Factor. I feel slightly violated.
Okay. It seems like one show has finally got it right. These singing competitions aren’t really about finding the Next Star. They’re about ENTERTAINING the audience. So far, The Voice to me is far more entertaining than Idol or X Factor. It’s actually FUN. They way that Laurence Welk was fun, except without all the creepy hair dos.
Actually, I take that back. There are some creepy hairdos on there.
This is probably waaaaaaay more than you wanted to read about RSSCAD, and I guess that just proves my point. I have an issue here. I should probably invest in more quality television, but I just can’t seem to step away. If only one of the shows would call me and I could help them out with all of my opinions. I’d be a super judge.
Actually, I’d probably be terrible. I’d be too busy giggling and laughing and being generally creepy, just like I was when I was a teenager.
And now, some classic Lawrence Welk. It's called "One Toke Over The Line". I'm not kidding. It has a line "I'm one toke over the line, sweet Jesus". I mean, it's so bad that it's brilliant. How can you NOT love this?