I’ve been kidding in my American Idol blogs that America hates women.
If you’ve been watching The Voice, it’s no longer a joke. Over the last two weeks, “America” has had a chance to save one performer from each of the four judges/coaches/mentors’ teams. All four performers were male, and you can make a case that none of the four were the strongest performers on their teams.
Frankly, if anyone truly believes that Idol or The Voice are singing competitions, think again. They’re institutionalized fantasizing for flyover America to express their boredom with their daily lives by voting for young, energetic, usually Caucasian, male perfomers.
The phenomenon became blindingly obvious a couple of years ago on the Idol 8 tour. Despite the fact that Stevie Wonder could see that Adam Lambert has no interest whatsoever in women, teen girls and middle-aged housewives by the thousands dubbed themselves “Glamberts” and created a fantasy world around Lambert where he was (1) heterosexual and (2) going to swoop in to fix their (broken?) lives.
Of course, there’s exceptions. The most recent evictee from the Idol mansion, Colton Dixon, was clearly a young, white male. However, he had also clearly made his play for the fundamentalist/Christian vote by painting himself as one of God’s warriors – lest we forget his #messengers hashtag a couple of weeks ago. There were two problems with this – one, he sang a Lady Gaga song last week… and two, he played… *gasp*… piano, not guitar. After he broke faith with the flyovers by singing that evil woman’s music, the fanbase suddenly realized he wasn’t a WGWG and turned on him.
Before long, this is going to create a vicious feedback loop, where less and less people watch for the competition – the viewers are either the fetishists who shove anyone who isn’t an early-20’s white guy out of the way in service of their fantasies, or people like VFTW, who have made it their task in life to mock the fetishists (and the shows). It’s gotten so bad that VFTW is “supporting” the last white guy in Idol 11, Phillip Phillips the Phillipsest, because they “know” that he’s going to win anyway. In their eyes, the fifth consecutive White Guy With Guitar winning Idol (then flopping in the recording industry) will hasten the end of FOX’s cash cow.
Oh, there’ll be a third group of viewers – people like me, who look for the performers who’ll make it big despite America’s voting insanity while gently (OK, not always gently) mocking the voting process.
And to those who say that a woman won the first X-Factor and that the first Voice winner was Hispanic… it seems to take a season for what VFTW calls “the Frauen” to arrive at a new singing show. The acid test will be X-Factor 2 this fall. If the same WGWG-centric voting pattern holds, and there’s no reason to doubt that it will, there’s going to be another “cute”-but-semi-talented early-20’s white guy winning that competition.
The question, of course, is when will this hurt the ratings? Idol slipped quite a bit this year. The Voice is holding its own… but X-Factor already suffered from weaker-than-expected ratings. It won’t be long before there’s going to be a combination of viewer fatigue (too many competition shows in too short a time) and the reality that everyone other than the self-selected Loyal Fans And True will begin to give up in frustration.
It’ll come down, as it always does, to a simple cost-benefit analysis. When lowered ratings drive ad rates down to a level that can’t be saved by secondary revenue — text-messaging charges, mostly, but also online record sales – the shows will go away. That said, FOX seems to believe in Idol, with the new two-year contract that was just handed to Ryan Seacrest as proof.
But the reality is that this form of reality TV is moving closer to its end.
If you want to help speed that along, vote for Phillip Phillips the Phillipsest tomorrow night. You’ll have a lot of company.
And despite all this, I’ll still recap the rest of the season of Idol, even though I’m fairly sure it’s about to become a “pick off the girls” shooting gallery (ironically, the one girl who knows how to use a gun will probably be the last to go).
Right now, there’s an NHL playoff overtime about to start. See you Thursday morning.