Thursday, August 30, 2007

American Idol Illusions


Booker T. The Original Negro Boot-strapper.

I love reading the letters to the editor section of newspapers.

Its one thing to read articles written by journalists, its a whole other to read
something by a Joe Schmoe reader.

More than a year or so ago I clipped the following reader comment
from the New York Press. It stuck with me because of both how analytical it is and because of how on point it is about our "American Idol", "America's Next Top Model" culture.

Armond Whites review of Invincible Man is one of the more insightful pieces of film criticism that I can remember. Americans like to celebrate instance of chance celebrity while ignoring the actual parameters of opportunity for lower-middle and lower class citizens seeking white-middle class social status.
The "American Idol" stories are a distraction, and they make it difficult for society to understand the facts of social mobility, educational opportunity, racial and ethnic history and class determinism. The quality movies we need to show us the realities of class are slow in coming. Rarely, are they made without our inspirational heroes that achieve despite the odds, and they normally bury or ignore the political realties that define or sustain our socio-economic problems.

This is the nature of our collective imginative projections, because we love the exceptional talents an determined heroes. Atlman, sayles, and a handful of French directors are the only directors I can think of that have effectively mined through class territory without sentimentality and celebrity worship. I would add Any Given Sunday to that list and acknowledge Whites helpful recent writings on the Stone film and its underappreacited social themes of class, race competition and power.

American Idol as a distraction 'cuz n*ggas don't want to really think about how poor they are and how they WILL probably never get some of the millionaire OR for that matter middle class cake.


Given how difficult it is to come up why do people hold on to the American Dream?

Why aren't their people rioting in the street?
Retail gigs pay betwen $6/$8 and hour and if you have f*cked up credit, your screwed.

Might as well have a felony:(

Where is the anger, or are we just self medicating?



Frankie, Le Levier de Chemise said...

People need something to which they can aspire. The "American Dream" is the standard (money, success, fame, glamour). It is stupid to think that everyone has the same potential. It is a myth created in a liberal, democratic society. Everyone is equal in a political sense, but in the real world they are not. I cannot do what gymnasts do, since I haven't had the proper training... and, perhaps, even if I had had the proper training there's still a big chance I wouldn't have cut it for lack of talent, or not being limber enough. We must break free from myth-making; turning these success stories into legends of fairy-tale-like proportions (they lived happily ever after...)

People aren't rioting in the street because they're too busy surviving. If you have to spend the majority of your energy into wondering how you're going to put food on the table, you won't have any energy left to think about pursuing a career. The arts can only thrive in an advanced social climate in which people have ample leisure time to think up great things, in which they have no worries about these basic necessities: food, shelter. When you're making ends meet, that's all you do... you don't worry about what's in the middle.


M.Dot. said...


Everyone is equal in a political sense, but in the real world they are not.
Political as in voting?
Or political as in ....?

People aren't rioting in the street because they're too busy surviving.
I feel you.
I know this.


I look at how combustible it is
in a John Q sense.

Then I see the folks rioting in South American, Western Eurpope, South East Asia, Haiti....

In our situation we have young bucks who are functionally literate.

Black, Latino, Asian and White.

Crazy consumerizm at 'em erry day.

And guns GALORE.
Thats a combustible combination.

I know folks are working.
The costs of living in the Bay/East Cost is a material fact in my daily life.

Perhaps what is more telling is that folks are medicated too.

neo said...

@ Rioting: no one wants to be a hero (the fatality of that position is too great for most) so we rather champion someone or ppl we see willing to risk it all.

it's the same reason why folk in my home country don't riot either despite some of the nonsensical things govt done did.

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