The best explication of the American Idol
phenom that I have yet come across was in yesterday's New York Times. I cannot watch the show--I have a low tolerance for humiliation, for myself or for other people, even if the other people have signed on willingly and seem to embrace it, so long as it comes with 15 seconds of national exposure. "But the unquenchable appeal of "the Apprentice" and "American Idol" lies at least in part in their poignancy: both series combine the preposterous feel-good optimism of "42nd Street" with the desperation of "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?"
The article goes on to discuss both Idol
and its companion piece, The Apprentice
in terms of class warfare--a model that made the penny drop for me. Apprentice
is hitting this gong very hard in their promos this year, pitching the "book smart" team--the people with fancy pants education and (the subtext suggests) fancy money and fancy manners--against the "street smart" team--who are positioned to be the trailer trash who worked themselves up from the gutter and are the more virtuous for not having any of that there fancy book-larnin.'
It's red and blue by other names, is what it is. It's spinach, and I say to hell with it.