The Frontal Cortex

American Idol

I’m definitely ready for the writer’s strike to be over. I actually watched two hours of American Idol last night. I haven’t watched many of these pre-competition shows before, when Paula, Randy and Simon sit through the auditions of strangers off the street, but I couldn’t help but notice that the show seemed to feature some mentally ill and mentally handicapped people. The performers were both incredibly sincere and unbelievably bad , which was supposed to create some comic relief. The joke got old pretty quickly, though.
I’m obviously not a doctor, but it seemed a little cruel to feature people on a nationally televised competition that clearly aren’t competition material.


  1. #1 Rachael
    January 17, 2008

    Not sure what I think about it. On the one hand, it runs the risk of dehumanizing handicapped people (haven’t seen what you’re referencing so I couldn’t say), but on the other hand, what a great experience to be on the show for a brief moment. Would it be fair to treat them any differently than other bad performers?

  2. #2 Paradigm
    January 17, 2008

    It’s like making fun of children. A bit sadistic, like a lot of other reality shows.

    If you’re tired of the strike there is always the Sarah Connor Chronicles. Summer Glau is very nice, although the characters seem a bit vague. Still, it definitely beats American Idol.

  3. #3 austin
    January 17, 2008

    It’s a bit like a freakshow and belongs in the same age as people being considered ‘the handicapped’ or ‘mentally handicapped’ I would say – not very illuminating.

  4. #4 Daniel
    January 17, 2008

    I have noticed that most reality shows are designed and engineered to promote and exploit conflict among people for the purpose of mocking them. Alot of people seem to like that format. I am not fond of it.

    “Project Runway” is a show that is interesting because the producers do not seem to engineer the show to promote conflict. Of course, there is conflict, but it is the natural conflict of complex people in competition.

    Heidi Klum is not mean, just impersonal and business-like, when she says, “one of you will be the winner, and one of you will be out.”

  5. #5 Wes
    January 17, 2008

    It makes me wonder how much of the audience is mentally ill and mentally handicapped.

  6. #6 Dr. Feelgood
    January 17, 2008

    Although I, too, believe that some do have genuine mental illness, I think most of them are just acting like freaks so they can be on TV for 5 minutes. I just don’t get how on the seventh year the producers still think it’s funny. I don’t even know how many variations on saying “horrible” Simon can think of without getting bored with himself already; I guess the money is too good to pass. In any case, the low ratings seem to indicate the audience is finally starting to get bored as well.

  7. #7 Nate
    January 17, 2008

    Personally, I thought “We’re Brothers Forever” was quite charming. I’ve had it bouncing around in my head for most of today, too.

  8. #8 amybuilds
    January 17, 2008

    When ABC canceled the show Sports Night I stopped watching TV. So far I don’t miss it. Have you tried books?

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