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.”