Besides, why bother to tune into a show when you can hear it perfectly clearly through the walls?
Anyhow, I had never really set eyes on American Idol until I returned to the San Francisco area on business and flopped at the plush estate of fellow Vidiot Jason Snell. And the Snells, they are an American Idol household. They watch the shows. They review the candidates. They argue over which one will get the coveted Snell votes and engage in the kind of horse-trading that would make seasoned legislators look as if they just rolled into Capital City on the 4:28 turnip truck. If just a simple majority of the American electorate vetted the presidential candidates with the same rigor the Snells apply to American Idol hopefuls, it's a cinch that our next president would be a lot better than the simp we're stuck with now.
Sure, we'd be stuck with Clay Aiken. But improvement — however nominal — is still improvement.
Anyhow, I was staying with the Snells, and they watch American Idol. And as a thoughtful house-guest, I can't just whine and complain and stomp my feet until they feel obligated to watch something else. I mean, I certainly tried my level best, but they just wouldn't budge.
They're very selfish people that way.
Now, as it turns out, the night of my first, and what I hoped would be my last, exposure to American Idol occurred the night the second group of semifinalists performed — an evening widely regarded by Idol-ologists as quite possibly the worst evening of pained caterwauling since Roseanne Arnold crooned the National Anthem before a San Padres game in 1990. Which would make it the worst evening of pained caterwauling since human beings developed the ability of speech. I know I'm hardly the first person to make this observation, but I realized right then and there that the thrill in tuning into American Idol is not to see which obscure talent will emerge from the competition to clog the pop charts with hit after hit of bland, overproduced pap or to pull for a gutsy underdog to turn back the challenge of a field of unworthies. Rather, it is the chance to watch people with just as much talent as the next guy but a limitless capacity for embarrassment crash and burn on a global scale.
And — big surprise to regular TeeVee readers accustomed to the special brand of life-affirming malice served up 'round here — I'm pretty OK with that. I mean, I've long since given up the illusion that the Kiwanis are about to make me grand marshal of the Nice Guy Parade, so why not have a few hearty chuckles at the expense of some teenybopper mutilating "I Wanna Dance With Somebody?"
So I'm hooked. I've tuned in every week since then. I don't miss a minute of the voting-results show (45 seconds of action jam-packed into 30 minutes of programming). I have reasoned, deeply help opinions on people named Amy Adams (huzzah!), Leah LaBelle (put a sock in it, sweetie), and Matthew Rogers (Oh dear God in heaven, no.) I read the article penned by my fellow Vidiot Steve Lutz on Jon Peter Lewis and John Stevens, and I understood every single word.
You can imagine how chilling this all is. I've known Lutz for more than a decade now, and the best I've ever been able to manage is ever third word and most of the nouns.
Nevertheless, American Idol is now part of the regular Michaels viewing rotation and will remain so until the last deluded wannabe is kicked to the curb. And there's not a damn thing I can do about. Change the channel, look away, stuff throw pillows into my ears the next time someone gets it into their skull that they can out-Whitney Houston Whitney Houston — all forms of resistance are futile in the face of American Idol's relentless assault. But there are a few things Fox can change about the show to make my voluntary captivity a little more enjoyable.
But mostly, I do not like the fact that I am spending valuable hours of my life watching this show. And for that, I blame not Ryan Seacrest nor Paula Abdul nor the overeager production monkey ordering people to boo — I blame Snell. I will never forgive Snell. I will make Snell pay.
Right after I finish dialing up the American Idol hotline to pad the vote total for Amy Adams and John Stevens, that is.
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