May 11, 2006

On American Idol and American Idiocy

(Toledo, OH) I have never watched an episode of "American Idol," nor do I ever care to watch this program.

There. My bias is out front and center.

I abhor almost everything that this show stands for: the corporatization of music, the glorification of using sex as a tool, the promotion of self-exploitation, and the relentless consumerism inherent in a concept that preaches people are worthless unless they are stars.

I do not begrudge the contestants and the fact that they have bought into the lie of stardom, even the sort of manufactured stardom that "American Idol" offers. There was a time when I, too, believed that I could achieve happiness and satisfaction in the music industry; the dream of fame and fortune is a pleasant, though destructive, narcotic.

Nor do I lay the blame for this culture of decay solely at the feet of the producers of "American Idol," as the widespread fascination with "reality" television predates this program. The show, however, is by far the most popular of the surreality genre, and thus is the focus of my ire.

We are becoming a nation of mind-numbed imbeciles who spend countless hours drooling in front of the 50" plasma screen seeking to feed our addiction to the meaningless pap that "American Idol" doles out. When the show is not being broadcast, or when we have watched the TiVo recordings ad nauseum, it is time to visit one of the millions of websites dedicated to the blatherings of the hosts and contestants.

Television news shows devote more time to "Idol" controversies than many pressing social, political, and economic issues. The "drama" of Chris Daughtry being voted off yesterday's broadcast was one of the top four news items on the networks this morning. Over half of Americans cannot find New York or Israel on a map, but I would wager that those same people would have no problem naming the remaining 10 contestants on "American Idol."

I am an admitted curmudgeon and iconoclast, and I recognize that my distaste for what passes for most "entertainment" on television, in movies, and in music puts me in a distinct minority.

But do we really want to live in a world where the main goals of our children are to one day compete - or be able to compete - in unreality shows such as "American Idol," or where this fabricated universe is the focus of so much of our energies?


Anonymous said...

At least the Idol contestants are doing something with their lives and not being blog faggots. Fuck off loser!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hello????It's just a TV show!

historymike said...

Thanks, anonymous #1, #2, and #3 for visiting.

Thanks also for proving my point better than I ever could.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more! The "unreality shows" are meaningless to me, and I, too, have never watched an episode of American Idol although I hear enough about it from co-workers and friends to keep abreast of what's happening.

I prefer to think for myself, to read, to listen to all types of music, and to enjoy the masterpieces of nature than to sit in front of a t.v. screen and watch "reality".

I also enjoy reading your blog as it makes me think. I found it after searching for news in the Matthew Winkler death but have come back because of the quality of your writing and thinking.

Keep up the good work!

LTLOP said...

Now just a question Mike, if I am staring at a 50" plasma screen (which makes me drool anyways) and it is tuned to the History Channel do I get counted in the brainless AI group? Now don't get me wrong it is rather entertaining to watch the try-out shows to see how unbelievebly clueless some people are about their perceived talent, but after that I would personally rather have my balls pounded flat with a canoe paddle than watch AI.

Brian said...


This is perhaps the most brilliant post you've ever posted!

I felt five IQ points slip away just by flipping by this drivel leaking out of the vast American wasteland we call television.

Were it not for "The Simpsons", there'd be nothing on network television for anybody with an IQ above 100.

Lisa Renee said...

hehehe Mike attracted American Idolers...


Bryan said...

Mike, your post is about American Idol - but anon 1,2 and 3 have reminded me of another disturbing trend in America today:

The inability to rationally discuss a topic without getting all bent out of shape.

I'm not going to lie: I've watched every episode of the show since it started this season - I find it fascinating to watch Fox put on a television show where they're basically pimping out a music star who will produce money for them over the next 6 to 10 years. And this investment is a sure bet on Fox's part because all the while the American people have basically TOLD them whose record they'd buy by voting for the winner. For me it's a marketing thing that I'm interested in - not because I'm a devoted fan of a particular contestant.

Here's the disturbing part though: While I am a fan of the show I don't feel the need to scream at you for not liking it too.

M A F said...

The three anonymous comments do validate you points you have made. The Romans had the gladiators, the US has American Idol. Then as now the people sit comfortably to relish in the failures, sacrafice and degradation of others. The victorious will win their freedom as their competitor's lives are at the will and whim of the call-in public who raise thumbs up or thumbs down on the next fabricated celebrity.

The next winner should have the courage to stand on the stage and thank the mindless protes ("losers") that wasted their lives .99 cents at a time to call in and vote.

historymike said...

Thanks, anonymous #4. I am glad that the blog serves a greater purpose than just an outlet for me to vent.

historymike said...


I am not a blanket despiser of all things TV, and I admit a fondness for news programs, the History Channel (which I call "The World War II Channel"), and some of the programs on the Discovery Channel (especially "Mythbusters").

As far as AI and canoe paddles, I also agree. I would never turn the program on, but I have seen clips on other shows, and there is something hilarious about a William Hung getting a few more than 15 minutes of fame.

It's kind of like watching a bad car wreck.

historymike said...


Shucks. I thought I was just getting rid of some pent-up aggression, but I thank you for the compliment.

historymike said...

Lisa Renee:

Yeppers - As soon as this post hit Technorati and Blogger search, the site filled up with AI-lovers and Chris Daughtry fans, but they disappeared just as quickly once another 1,000 AI and Chris Daughtry blog posts bumped me.

historymike said...


I agree that the show has some merit as a sort of sociological window into contemporary America, and that there can be reasons other than the moronic to watch.

historymike said...


I was unaware that you actually had to PAY for the "democracy" of American Idol.

I wonder who makes the money on those many millions of phone calls.

You learn something new every day.

Name withheld to protect the guilty said...

As much as I don't watch AI and think it's mindless crap (though I enjoy other sorts of mindless crap; I have read all of Tom Clancy's novels), and would generally agree with Mike's take on things (especially those first 3 anon posters proving your point!), behind the bad things AI shows, about the US, it does show one great thing about America:

We are such a rich country that we have time and money to waste on such drivel. I can assure you that people living on $300 a year in Kenya don't give a damn about AI.

That being said, I too would rather have my "balls pounded flat with a canoe paddle" than watch it. (That's a great phrase, ltlop.)

Hooda Thunkit said...

”I have never watched an episode of "American Idol," nor do I ever care to watch this program.” --HistoryMike

Amen brother, and dittos! ;-)

”I do not begrudge the contestants and the fact that they have bought into the lie of stardom, even the sort of manufactured stardom that "American Idol" offers.”

It DID work well for the Monkees, so many years ago. And, as I recall, they were the very first “made for TV “star groups.”

”Television news shows devote more time to "Idol" controversies than many pressing social, political, and economic issues.”

Sadly, you are correct. I can just see us as a species hunching back over and our foreheads receding, de-evolving. Hey, watch those knuckles there bud!

”I am an admitted curmudgeon and iconoclast, and I recognize that my distaste for what passes for most "entertainment" on television, in movies, and in music puts me in a distinct minority.”

Isn’t it truly sad how many of “them” there are, who are totally sucked into what “the man” has programmed us into watching for (and I use the next term loosely) entertainment?

I’d rather watch something educational for my dose of “tube time…”

Well Mike, do we hold our next meeting (of the “Never Watched a “Reality” Show, Probably Never Gonna, Club)in a phone booth (archaic terminology for a small, enclosed space from which one could telecommunicate without the whole frigging world being exposed to our inane conversation)?

Anon #1,
You misspelled looser :-}


Newton B. Minow
Sadly sir, you are still right, Television Is (and remains) A Vast Wasteland...

Kate said...

You have to be careful with this kind of stuff. Reality tv also. I was sick this winter. One of the kids kindly took the remote away from me as I slept huddled and shivering on the sofa. When I awoke the tv was tuned to a reality show where they were eating horse penis' and other unmentionables. This qualified for me that I needed to get to the doctor's when I was too sick to get up and change the channel.

Your anonymous posters are proof in fact that you do lose 5 or more IQ . per episode.