Topic: Sports & Entertainment
More American Idol Ethics: Simon Stands Up for Integrity!
It’s another “American Idol” season,
and the producers have decided to limit the show’s exploitation of awful
and/or demented auditioners, as well as opportunities for judge Simon
Cowell to be gratuitously cruel. Never mind: “Idol” still managed to violate
ethical values on its second night, as the auditions in Kansas City neared
A contestant named Dennis Brigham
sang in undistinguished fashion, not terrible, but clearly without professional-caliber
talent or presence. Nor did he display the kind of quirky personality
that has occasionally prompted the judges to lower their standards and
let a whacko amuse the TV audience until he or she self-destructs. It
was clear that none of the four judges thought Brigham was worthy of passing
through to the next round, and Brigham sensed it too.
So he began to beg. He really,
really wanted to go to Hollywood, see. (as if the other auditioners did
not.) This meant everything to him. His parents had flown up from
Florida. Please? Oh, Pleeeeeeeeease? PLEEEEEEEEEEASE????
It was a pathetic and humiliating
And, incredibly, it worked.
Randy Johnson, Paula Abdul (who
would probably pass a singing rutabaga through if given any encouragement)
and the extraneous new judge, Kara DioGuardi (what, exactly, is she supposed
to be adding to the mix?) quickly capitulated to the emotional blackmail
and voted a grudging “Yes.” Simon Cowell was aghast, and held to his initial
“reject” vote, the only honest one in the pack. By a 3-1 score, Brigham
got his ticket to certain defeat in Hollywood. Unless, of course, there’s
a begging round.
Not that American idol has ever
been awash in integrity, but this was a new low. Yes, the judges have
often been soft touches for pretty girls who sing off-key, men in uniform,
and inspirational stories. But anyone can beg. This is advertised as a
talent competition; if contestants can overcome their lack of talent by
pleading, then all aspiring Idols should be informed of that fact and
given a chance to grovel. It is not inappropriate for a job applicant
to tell an interviewer, “I really, really need this job!” and for the
interviewer to take that into consideration, if the candidate is qualified
for the job and if nobody else is clearly better qualified.
But dozens, maybe hundreds of audition rejects were superior to Brigham,
and the fact that he was willing to prostrate himself beyond all dignity
should have given him no advantage at all.
The judges, minus one, abandoned
integrity. Their standards are exposed as arbitrary, their dedication
to their tasks negligible, their sense of responsibility and accountability
is nil. If the process lacks integrity now, why should anyone trust it
later? Those “Idol” conspiracy theorists who think the voting is rigged
may not be so crazy after all.
Simon Cowell, at least, knows the
importance of integrity. Cruel he may be; feckless he is not.