Tag Archives: philadelphia auditions

Local Reaction to Alexis Cohen on “American Idol”

17 Jan

Type “Alexis Cohen” into search engine like Google and thousands of websites will pop up, most of which call Alexis “bizarre, crazy, insane” and so on. Even Allentown’s local paper, The Morning Call, published an article yesterday talking about Alexis titled, “Bizarre Rage on ‘American Idol'”. Today the paper published another article, “Televised ‘Idol’ rants makes singer somebody to love”.

According to the second article, when the “American Idol” camera crew came to Alexis’ apartment for filming, she was under the impression that she would probably get a golden ticket to Hollywood. I mean, they drove the 50 miles to Allentown, right? I would assume the same thing. Out of the thousands of people who show up at venues for a shot on AI, only 300 actually appear before Simon, Paula, and Randy. Alexis was one of the 300.

Here’s a quote from the article on Mindy Cohen’s account of the incident, “She said the pair believed Alexis had a chance to go further in the competition after she became one of 300 contestants, culled from the 17,000 hopefuls, who would stand before the three judges. And that being singled out by the producers for a day of filming before her appearance in front of Cowell, Abdul and Jackson was a hopeful sign.”

It didn’t guarantee a golden ticket, but sure seemed to indicate that one would be given. After Alexis exited the audition room, she was immediately ushered away by producers who “egged on” her outrage, according to Mindy Cohen. Alexis was asked questions like, “What would you say to Simon Cowell?” Ironically, it was Alexis who said one of the greatest things I have ever heard uttered on “American Idol” or anywhere else for that matter. She said, “If I could legally moon you, I would.” I love that!

One person mentioned that Alexis appeared on some T.V. shows yesterday, and yes, she has, but she was given a makeover before appearing on “Regis & Kelly”, “Extra”, and “The View”. She actually gets a complete makeover on “Extra”.

Apparently, talent agencies, media outlets, and others have been hounding Alexis with promises of stardom. I really hope it works out for Alexis Cohen, I really do. I guess she can sort of thank AI for making her a star, but at the same time, my heart breaks that she was portrayed in such an unflattering way–bizarre, crazy, enraged, nuts. Poor girl. But, hey, maybe she can use that to her advantage. I wish the best for Alexis and pray that people will not take advantage of her, but help her, love her, and help her accomplish her dreams.

Rock on, Alexis, rock on!

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Does American Idol Exploit Mentally Ill?

16 Jan


That’s the question on my mind today after watching the season premiere of “American Idol”, which broadcast the first round of auditions last night. Since my best friend, Sarah, seems to enjoy “American Idol” I go along with watching the show, even though sometimes it makes me wretch. Sometimes they put through some of the dopiest people who have mediocre talent at best. Obviously, the show is driven by ratings and clearly freaks drive up the ratings.

Now in its seventh season, “American Idol” has had more than its share of eclectic contestants like Sherman Pore who sang “You Belong to Me” last season for the love of his life. Sherman gathered petitions to be able to sing on AI to brighten her day. She died two days before Sherman’s audition, but as he sang it was truly a beautiful moment, even though the Sherman was a terrible singer (There’s a special video of Sherman’s performance for y’all at the end of this post!)

There have also been people who have dressed in odd outfits to get the judges’ attention, including Ben Haar of Delaware (see photo below) who wore some crazy outfit and then went and got his chest hair waxed off at Paula’s suggestion. Clearly, Haar was there on a bet…I hope he got his Nintendo Wii or whatever he was supposed to get for looking like this on television.

Fox TV

Yet there are contestants who really and truly believe they have talent, like 23 year-old Alexis Cohen from my hometown of Allentown, PA. “American Idol” cameras showed the one room apartment she shares with her mother in downtown Allentown (the downtown area is economically challenged). Alexis appears to sleep on the couch in this crappy hole-in-the-wall apartment. Obviously, this young woman has a rough go of things and is looking for a way out. Judging by her appearance and demeanor, I can tell that something’s not right with this girl.

She performs “Somebody to Love” by Grace Slick for the judges, who are pretty nice to her considering, saying that her voice would be better suited for a rocky cover band (I agree. She would be excellent doing some Janis Joplin or Joan Jett covers). She takes the news well initially, but as soon as she leaves the audition room, she freaks out completely by cussing Simon, ranting, raving, and giving the finger repeatedly. Naturally, the “American Idol” powers-that-be decide that this is great and show prolonged scenes of Alexis’ outrage, and even use it as a teaser before the actual clip airs. As I watched Alexis, I felt so bad for her. She made a complete fool of herself. I turned to Sarah and said, “That girl needs some anger management classes.” Sarah nodded in agreement.

Fox TV
This is a picture of 23 year-old Alexis Cohen. She dresses pretty cool.

As I thought about Alexis and the fact that she lives only a few minutes from me, (and incorrectly thinks that the song “Allentown” was sung by Van Halen, when in fact, it’s Billy Joel) I decided that she and I would probably get along pretty well. She seems to adore animals even saying that she loves her cats more than herself, which broke my heart, because I wanted her to love herself.

I ruminated on Alexis, her mannerisms, her statements, and her singing. She seems to suffer from manic depression, anger issues, and some other things (I don’t want to give an official diagnosis to someone I’ve only seen on T.V.). If bipolar, she seemed to be in a state of mania with grandiose ideas of fame, invincibility, and oodles of energy. After seeing where Alexis lives and how she reacted to being rejected from Hollywood, I am shocked that “American Idol” would choose to air the seven minute clip of Alexis (posted below), which shows a woman who has obviously suffered quite a bit.

Alexis wasn’t the only contestant whose mental stability I wondered about. There was also a bloke named Milo Turk, who was not only over the age limit but also wanted to sing an original piece he composed called “No Sex Allowed.” He says he’s a social worker in Atlantic City, NJ, which makes me wonder about the social services inNew Jersey. His song was pretty bad, both lyrically and musically. I had to admit that it made me laugh because it reminded me of some crappy Christian songs I’ve heard in the past. Milo, like Alexis, seems to be mentally ill or something (See video of Milo below).

Last on my list is 22 year-old James Lewis who lives in Philly. He’s probably one of the worst singers I’ve ever heard as he does a weird version of “Go Down, Moses”. Randy and Paula erupt into hysterical laughter, while Simon looks deeply disturbed. James stares at Randy and Paula with confusion as they laugh, as if he doesn’t quite understand what’s going on. He then asks if he should sing another song, or if he should sing more and continues belting out “Go Down, Moses.” On his exit interview, Lewis says that he will probably try out again next year (Lewis audition below).

Looking at these three individuals, I am convinced that “American Idol” doesn’t do a good job screening its contestants, or maybe the show’s producers just don’t care. There are people out there who clearly like to make themselves look stupid, and then there are people like James Lewis, who clearly have no idea they are untalented. Why, oh why, do these clips get aired? Yes, sometimes bad talent is funny, some people just want to get on television, and some contestants are just plain annoying. But Alexis, Milo, and James are mentally disturbed and putting them on “American Idol”amounts to exploiting their illness. True, they made the choice to be on the show…but it doesn’t seem like a very rational choice, does it? If these folks are truly suffering from mental illness, can they be trusted to make a rational choices anyway?

I’m not saying that the mentally ill should be excluded from “American Idol”. In fact, in 2004, Tracy Moore who suffers from schizophrenia tried out for “American Idol” and made the first cut (story here). But Moore didn’t have a breakdown in front of the judges or as she was leaving the room. Why? Because Moore is in treatment and is stable enough to handle life outside the fishbowl.

Some mentally ill people are not stable, and go on shows like “American Idol” broadcasting their instability to millions of people who laugh and mock them. It’s not funny. Mental illness is debilitating, not an entertaining spectacle for the American public. I would never go on “American Idol” because I’m probably not a strong enough singer, and also I would be crippled by the judges’ criticism. Even as a mentally ill woman, I can admit and know that because I am highly intelligent and high functioning (in most areas anyway. I can hide my shortcomings fairly well) that I should not try out for “American Idol.” But not every mentally ill person is the same, especially someone who is bipolar in a state of mania!

The justice system allows for individuals to plead guilty by reason of insanity for crimes they commit. It seems like “American Idol” should offer the same grace to their contestants–“bad singer by reason of insanity” or just throw out the footage of these people who have meltdowns. Until then, “American Idol” is just another media outlet that exploits the mentally ill to get good ratings.

Here’s the Sherman Pole “You Belong to Me” audition video:

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