Shock “Value”?

by Ben Goldfarb on April 26, 2007

in Television

Last night, the vacuous nonsense that is American Idol took a turn away from the usual vacuous nonsense to run a cheap, vacuously nonsensical imitation of a Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. In the course of doing so, the producers might have inflicted some lasting emotional damage on one of its most promising contestants with a sleazy stunt that was billed as “the biggest shock in American Idol history.” Back to that later.

Don’t get me wrong—”Idol Gives Back” appears to be a worthwhile charity. Providing aid to starving or diseased chilllllldren in Africa, to chilllllldren rendered homeless by Hurricane Katrina (damn that Bush, anyway!), and teaching chilllllllllldren to read in Appalachia are all worthwhile causes. Of course, we don’t know how much of the money is being put to productive use and some of the efforts are arguably saddled with inefficiencies beyond the control of the charitable foundation. (For example, if $10 will buy enough pills and mosquito nets to keep 20 kids from dying of malaria, how many thousands of kids would $10 worth of DDT have saved were it not for the alarmist response to the late crusading tree-hugger Rachel Carson’s hyperbolic 1962 book Silent Spring, which precipitated a worldwide ban on the one insecticide that could have effected control over the vector for this mosquito-borne illness—albeit at the expense of a few birds. Yeah, that pisses me off.) Anyway, let’s assume that the money is well spent. I have no argument with the idea of “giving back.”

But two hours of quick performances, mostly by has-beens and second-tierers, interspersed with taped vignettes of Simon in Africa, Seacrest in Africa, Carrie Underwood in Africa, and Madonna in Africa didn’t live up to the hype we’ve been getting ever since Idol opened in Hollywood this year. We were promised Pink, Bono, Madonna, Celine Dion, Annie Lenox, Earth Wind & Fire, Kelly Clarkson, etc., etc. Where the hell was Pink? Didn’t even catch a whiff of her. Did I miss something? Bono appeared at the very end in a taped segment with the contestants. EW&F and Kelly did appear. Ben Stiller did some inane, taped crap. Annie Lenox did a heartfelt but past-her-prime performance of Bridge over Troubled Waters, which, although it was probably the best live performance of the evening, wasn’t really up to the level of a 2.5 sheets to the wind Dino singing That’s Amore on a Jerry Lewis telethon. The Best Special Effects award goes to the vidgeeks, who put together a flawless electronic marvel–a “live” on-stage duet by Celine Dion and Elvis Presley, who you might recall died in 1977. Elvis was good. Celine was Celine. In other words, she gets the Official Nittany Turkey “IS” Rating. (IS = it sucked.) Consequently, Elvis gets the Best Performance by a Performer, Living or Dead award.

Do you see a pattern there? Idol was able to get has-beens and wanna-bes, along with their own effluvia (Clarkson and Underwood), but the real icons—with the exception being Ben Stiller, of course—were on tape. And where in the hell was Pink?

Ellen Degeneres served quite well as the guest host, although Ryan Seacrest was there to be the insipid emcee, as usual. Ellen looked like she’s been working too hard. She seemed tired.

We were subjected to two hours of this crap and the voting results seemed to be an almost superfluous addition to the fluff. Seventy million votes were cast, which provided a lot of matching funds from the Idol folks to the charitable foundation. So, of course, those of us who are hooked by this crap were all on pins and needles waiting for the latest elimination. There was none.

Say what? You heard me right. There was none. They’ll be eliminating two next week. But the way this was handled was atrocious and potentially damaging to one favored contestant’s young psyche.

During the course of the show, four contestants of the remaning six had been told that they were safe and could rest easy. So, in the final few minutes of this two-hour torture, it came down to two people: Chris and Jordin. Remember that Seacrest had been touting the “shock” we would all get during the evening. Chris was told that he was safe, seemingly leaving Jordin, who has become one of the favorites to win, shaken, in tears, and going home. The director trained a camera on Jordin’s parents and friends for a lingering look at their distress and disbelief, then cut back to the discombobulated Jordin as Seacrest announced, “Jordin, you are also safe.”

Jordin is 17, and yeah, if she’s going to get into showbiz, she’s going to have to suffer a lot of setbacks, closed doors, heartbreaks and plain old slaps in the face, but this was not the way to introduce her to that. She was so emotionally overcome that she had difficulty performing the closing number; whether this inimical bullshit will create any lasting scars is unclear. I hope she gets plenty of support during the week and bounces back strongly from this ridiculous cheapass prank. And I fervently hope that none of her family and supporters had coronary incidents on account of the crapola.

So, next week, we’ll see the cut from six to four. Most likely, two of the guys will bite the dust. Which two will depend on their performances. The seventy million votes from this week will be added to the voting next week to determine the bottom two.

The Redhead May 2, 2007 at 9:48 pm

When I was a kid I loved going to the fair.

The Redhead May 2, 2007 at 9:49 pm

I wonder how many times a day Bon Jovi checks himself out in the mirror?

The Nittany Turkey May 2, 2007 at 9:50 pm

And now, Taylor, you’re still playing small time clubs in Alabama.

The Nittany Turkey May 2, 2007 at 9:50 pm

He probably goes to the dentist to have his laminates checked out equally often.

The Redhead May 2, 2007 at 9:50 pm

Taylor Hicks? I’m lost.

The Redhead May 2, 2007 at 9:50 pm

Taylor Hicks. What a terrible name.

Hick-up.

The Nittany Turkey May 2, 2007 at 9:51 pm

Who’s the VS model?

The Redhead May 2, 2007 at 9:51 pm

Did you see those pealie whites Simon was flashing? How many ways can you say “bright?”

The Redhead May 2, 2007 at 9:52 pm

Sorry, Turkey. I wasn’t paying attention. I do know Giselle won’t be their main model anymore.

The Redhead May 2, 2007 at 9:53 pm

What do you think about Streisand selling tix to her shows in England for one-thousand bucks a pop?

The Nittany Turkey May 2, 2007 at 9:53 pm

This one looked about 18.

The Nittany Turkey May 2, 2007 at 9:53 pm

I think that I wouldn’t buy a ticket for one of her performances for $10.

The Redhead May 2, 2007 at 9:54 pm

I think he will be going home for him.

The Redhead May 2, 2007 at 9:54 pm

Maybe I’d go if they paid ME the thousand bucks instead.

The Nittany Turkey May 2, 2007 at 9:55 pm

Are we good, or what?

The Redhead May 2, 2007 at 9:55 pm

Chris knew it was coming. I kinda liked the way he handled it.

The Nittany Turkey May 2, 2007 at 9:56 pm

You always feel pathos for them when they go.

The Redhead May 2, 2007 at 9:56 pm

Aw, look at that little cutie.

The Nittany Turkey May 2, 2007 at 9:56 pm

So now, next week, we get rid of Blake.

The Nittany Turkey May 2, 2007 at 9:57 pm

Oh, Christ…Barry Gibb…

Is he going to have them all stuttering?

The Redhead May 2, 2007 at 9:57 pm

So do you:)

Here’s the one Bon Jovi song I like.

The Redhead May 2, 2007 at 9:58 pm

I didn’t hear that–I like the Bee Gees!

Man, this is bad.

The Nittany Turkey May 2, 2007 at 9:58 pm

Phil’s song was a good one, too.

The Redhead May 2, 2007 at 9:59 pm

Yeah, I kinda like that one, too–they’re very similar.

The Nittany Turkey May 2, 2007 at 9:59 pm

But America has voted.

The Redhead May 2, 2007 at 9:59 pm

It’s a tearful night on the Idol stage.

The Nittany Turkey May 2, 2007 at 10:00 pm

OK. Aiiight….I’ll see ya next week. I hope you have enough to do so that you won’t be pining away for GraphGeek.

The Redhead May 2, 2007 at 10:00 pm

Well, Turkey, that’s another week down. I’ve had a lot of fun!

Here’s looking at you, kid :)

The Nittany Turkey May 2, 2007 at 10:00 pm

Be well, Red!

The Redhead May 2, 2007 at 10:02 pm

See you next week!

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