Tag Archives: ryan seacrest

Voting:: American Idol vs. American President

4 Jun

By Andrew J. Wilhelm Congratulations to the latest “American Idol” David Cook, who received the majority of the 99.7 million votes cast. While the inconvenience of college cut into my T.V. viewing, , I am a big fan of the show. The overall premise of the show, to give an amateur singer the chance of a lifetime, is a good one. It is also one that the American public can buy into–who doesn’t want dreams to come true? Still, 99.7 million is a daunting number! Since fans of the show can vote mutliple times, it doesn’t accurately reflect the actual number of viewers. Yet “American Idol” finales typically garner around 30 million viewers. Having 10% percent of the country captivated by a single television show is pretty impressive. Props to Simon, Paula, and Randy!

Although the 2004 presidential election garnered 40% of eligible voter turnout, “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell almost always gets more Americans to vote than political candidates. Primaries, even in this extra-thrilling campaign season, often struggle to reach double digits. Most people just don’t care enough to drive to the polling station and hit a button. Why are people more willing to vote for the nation’s next rock star, but seem lackadaisical about picking the next leader of the country? While his good looks and throaty vocals may make David Cook the next big thing; he’s not attempting to rule the free world (by political force anyway). Why do American citizens have more interest in pop stars than presidents?

I decided to ask a few of my friends, mostly college students like myself, about this issue and have elicited several interesting answers to my inquiry.

The most popular answer was that politics is “boring.” A vague expression, but one I’ll try to uncover more fully. Most people fall into three categories of “political boredom”: they believe their single vote couldn’t possibly make a difference; they simply don’t understand government workings and don’t care to learn; or they have been disenchanted because of corruption, scandals, etc. In fact, among those who choose not to vote, I would conjecture that all three possibilities would apply.

I have heard an enormous amount of people say that they are unhappy with our current options–John McCain, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, who’s hanging on by the skin of her teeth. Their remedy to such disdain is to simply not vote. I’d urge everyone to at least limit the damage by voting for whoever they deem the lesser of the two (or three) “evils”.

The weather also has a lot to do with whether or not people show up to the polls. A sunny, pleasant day can yield up to twice the voters as a cold, rainy day. Lame? I sure think so. Unfortunately, Americans have become uncontrollably lazy. They are used to being able to do everything from the comfort of their own La-Z-Boy. What if voting could be done via the Internet or even text messiaging, as in “American Idol”? These are possibilities that would dramatically change the voting landscape, but must be explored to keep up with this generation’s demands. Can you imagine Hillary standing on stage urging viewers to vote for her by calling 1-888-PREZ-001?

The level of disengagement from politics is being felt as severely as ever. Some everyday Americans–the ones who who go to work, pick up the kids from school, go to bed, only to repeat the process don’t have a clue what’s happening in Washington. But the politicians don’t seem to know what’s going on in middle America either. Like the a monarchy, the wealthiest tend to rule (and make the rules for) big-time politics It seems our government will be ruled by older, wealthy, white men in the foreseeable future, which doesn’t bode well for the “American Idol” voting crowd. In fact, many might want to replace the President, Congress, and Supreme Court with the checks-and-balances of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson, with AI host Ryan Seacrest as press secretary naturally.

In fact, the start-up of “American Idol” is arguably the best part of the show, and a lot more exciting than the primaries. The show’s preliminary auditions present viewers with freaks and tone deaf contestants that give us all a chuckle. After that, a few contestants who can actually sing make it through to the voting stages. Each contestants has his or her unique personality, hair style, vocal range, personal story, and connection with viewers. Not so in politics. While there has been some diversity in this year’s presidential election, politics is sill mostly wealthy white men who enjoy listening and arguing with other wealthy white men. Those who push the envelope threaten this hierarchy of power and can rarely penetrate the deep layers of aged power in Washington.

When it comes down to “American Idol” versus the American President, it seems we choose entertainment over politics, unless of course there’s a political scandal brewing. Nothing shoots up ratings like an old-fashioned affair or deep-seeded corruption. I enjoy “American Idol” as much as anyone else. In fact, I’ve for more AI contestants than politicians. In all fairness, I’m 19 and have only been eligible to vote a couple of times. I have voted every time since registering to vote and was proud to do so.

Though it’s a little more time-consuming to research and uncover the candidates’ positions, policies, and experiences, it is of the utmost importance. “American Idol” simply feeds its audience with stories, songs, flashing lights, and snarky judges; your vote only makes a super star. Despite dissatisfaction with politics and awe at “American Idol”, it is essential for Americans to get off their couches, put down their remotes, and head to the polls. As the United States continues to be the dominant force in the world; your vote will not only impact you, but millions around the globe. If you have the power to turn an obscure rocker into an “American Idol”, you have the chance to turn a candidate of your voice into the next American President.

Andrew Wilhelm is a sophomore at Wheaton College majoring in political science with a minor in economics. His two main passions are playing piano and golf. He also enjoys learning about and analyzing trends in culture, economics, and politics. For some strange reason, he consistently refuses to send his Nintendo Wii to Amy.

Print copy of Scribble.

Andrew Wilhelm a sophomore at Wheaton College majoring in political science with a minor in economics. His two main passions are playing piano and golf. He also enjoys learning about and analyzing trends in culture, economics, and politics.


It’s A Cook Off!

17 Apr

The very single David Cook.

Yes, ladies, David Cook is single. That’s one of the fascinating tidbits viewers picked up with tuning in to “American Idol’s” elimination show tonight. This season viewers can now call in on elimination nights to ask questions to the judges or contestants. Naturally, the questions are always of a serious nature and important to the betterment of our great country, like asking David Cook if he is single . Personally, I can sleep better at night knowing that the next day I may get a phone call from the very single David Cook asking me out on a date (a girl can dream, can’t she?)

Another caller asked Paula Abdul to describe her relationship to Simon Cowell using one of her songs–“Straight Up” was SImon’s choice, while Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest suggested “Cold-Hearted Snake”, Paula decided on “Opposites Attract” (making Simon the dancing cat in the video) and then informed Simon that she will never be “Forever Your Girl”. I’m sure he was crushed being as he’s engaged to a former model.

Let the poor girl buy back her horse!

The saddest question came from a view who asked Kristy Lee Cook if she was able to buy back her horse–the horse she sold so she could afford to chase her dream of becoming the next “American Idol”. Unfortunately, the man who bought Kristy’s horse seems unwilling to part with the animal. And then things got worse for Kristy, she was kicked off “American Idol”. But, wow, did she go out with a bang! Sitting practically in Simon’s lap, Kristy sassily sang her swan song. It was the most hilarious farewell performance I have ever seen on the show. I’ll miss her spunk.

Kristy was joined in the Bottom 3 by Syesha and BROOKE WHITE! Let me get this straight–Brooke is in the Bottom 3 while Carly Smithson can merrily skip off to safety. The Davids staged a sit-in during elimination refusing to go to safety (though Carly was happy to head to the couches and Jason Castro probably had no clue what was going on so we really can’t blame him for anything. I’m not even sure he realizes he’s on planet Earth).

I could end my post here, but then I’d miss out on telling you about Mariah Carey’s performance on tonight’s show. Wearing something that looked like a black bathing suit from the 1920’s she belted out her new song, “Bye Bye” (at least I think that’s what it was called). Mariah wasn’t the only fashion misfit on tonight’s show; Paula looked like she was growing a flower out of her neck. I know Fox is going green and all, but really.

Vote for Brooke!!!

The good news (besides David Cook being single) is that Brooke is safe for another week…but just barely. Sarah and I can’t continue to call 200 times every Tuesday night. You people have got to step up to the plate and ensure that Brooke stays a little longer–at least longer than Carly Smithson, Jason Castro, and maybe Syesha. I’m counting on all of you to keep Brooke in until the Final Four, maybe the Final Three. If you don’t do it for Brooke, then do it for me. And if you really care, get me a date. If you can’t decide between voting for Brooke or getting me a date, choose the latter because I haven’t been on a date in a really long time.

Ryan Seacrest Isn’t Gay?!

8 Apr

“American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest looking very manly, and not metro.

All these years, I thought the poster boy for metrosexuals everywhere was also a homosexual. Although Ryan Seacrest has dulled down his wardrobe for Season 7 of “American Idol”, I thought it was merely to look “less gay”. I know that sounds so terribly stereotypical because people don’t always “look gay”, but there are certain behaviors that tend to be attributed to certain groups of people. Plus, AI judge  Simon Cowell wickedly fuels rumors about Ryan’s sexuality with his biting banter with the host on the show each week.

Anyway, the gossip rag TMZ.com is reporting that Ryan’s out…with a girl (video evidence).

Ryan’s gal pal happens to be Sophie Monk who was engaged to some dude named Benji (does he know there are several movies about a dog with the same name?) who’s now dating Paris Hilton.  Some are calling the whole “date” a scam.  I don’t know about that–why try so hard to hide it?  It’s very “in” to be out and proud.  I just happened to think he was gay, but I reckon he’s not.

And now that I know the truth, I can’t even date him because it’s already got a gal.  And Simon’s engaged!  Blast it all!

American Idol: “We’re Brothers Forever”

18 Jan

OK, I have no idea what’s up with this guy, but he’s the greatest thing on “American Idol” since Sherman Pore. Is he mentally ill or just strange? No clue. But he seemed to have a good time and wasn’t scarred by the experience. He’s 44 and from Reno, NV so clearly he wouldn’t be picked as a contestant. He was just put through for entertainment’s sake.

Again, I’m not sure how to feel about this, but I sure what to hang out with Renaldo Lapuz and sing “We’re Brothers Forever”. He reminds me of Cervantes’ famous literary character, Don Quixote, a guy who dressed up like a knight to save the world. I adore Don Quixote because he lived his dream, even when everyone else thought he was mad. Maybe Renaldo has the the “Don Quixote” effect. I’d buy his album!

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!

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:

Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul

15 Jan

Simon, Paula, and Randy are back berating dooey-eyed youngin’s who have the dream of becoming the next “American Idol”. Plenty of viewers will tune in to watch the trio sock it to the losers who can’t sing and offer a golden pass  the worthy contenders off to Hollywood. Meanwhile, Ryan Seacrest will walk around acting metrosexual and randomly interviewing people in line. It should be a humdinger of a good time.

But just in case you can’t get enough “Idol”, there’s now something for you to do in those spare moments–you can read Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul. I am not making this up. Published in November (dang, I missed getting it for Christmas. I better add it to my Amazon.com wish list pronto, right next to my pink taser gun. Yes, there is actually a pink taser gun on my wish list.), the book’s foreword was written by everyone’s favorite “nice” judge, Paula Abdul (who was reportedly not drunk when she wrote the foreword–you be the judge) and includes heart-warming stories from fans and contestants including Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken, Jordin Sparks, Ruben Studdard, Melinda Doolittle (who should have won), Blake Lewis, and the guy America loves to mock, Sanjaya Malaka.

Better than reading the book is reading the Amazon.com book description. Here is a selected excerpt, “These are the stories the television cameras don’t see true, uplifting, and entertaining tales told with humor and candor that will leave you laughing, crying, and feeling inspired, whether you are a die-hard Idol watcher or an occasional fan….In Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul, those closest to the heart of American Idol from the executive producers to the stylists, from the fans to the judges, from the top finalists to the behind-the-scenes crew’ share their moving stories of obstacles overcome, love and support shared, lessons learned and lives touched and changed forever. This is truly the stuff that dreams are made of…”

Wow, pour any more sugar on that description and we’ll all go into sugar shock. Anyway, now you know about the book and you can go buy it and read it and post a comment about how I’m wrong to make fun of it because the inspirational stories in the book have changed your life. Or you could just buy the Wicked soundtrack, which is a better investment in the long haul because it won’t make you want to puke (or you could buy me the Wicked soundtrack, which I will promise to thoroughly enjoy).

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