Topic: Sports & Entertainment
More ‘American Idol’ Ethics
This week’s “American Idol” ethics controversy comes to us from Brian May, the guitarist for the classic rock group Queen. May coached the Idol contestants into their universally mediocre-to-awful renditions of the band’s greatest hits. His blog has revealed that his interaction with pretty-boy Ace in his coaching session was positive and constructive, but that the show’s editors, in classic reality show fashion, chose to edit the footage deceptively, making it look like May disapproved of Ace’s truncated take on “We Will Rock You.”
Not that he shouldn’t have. But May’s point is that he didn’t:
May is concerned that the editing made him look like a hyper-critical jerk, and also that the implication that one of the song’s creators didn’t care much for Ace’s performance of it cost Ace votes. And his complaint is justified. Film editing to create a storyline is the essence of reality TV, and anyone who has observed how deft editors make villains, drama queens, weenies, pigs and heroes out of participants in shows like “Survivor,” “The Apprentice,” “The Amazing Race,” “Blind Date” (the master of the technique), and “Big Brother” knows that personalities get routinely distorted in the name of entertainment. But “American Idol” is different, because public votes determine the winner, and intentional distortions like the one May is complaining about can skew the voting and change the results. Using creative film-editing to imply conflict where none exists is fair enough as the reality show genre has defined itself, but when it threatens to tilt the results of a talent contest that is supposed to be determined on merit, that’s an ethics foul.
Let’s hope the producers take Brian May’s complaint to heart.