Sunday, January 13, 2008
THE SINGING AND THE PAIN
On Tuesday January 15 at 8:00pm, America's annual 3-week obsession with schadenfreude begins once again. That's right - the "American Idol" audition shows are back!
While I'm a fan of the series, these early shows are not my favorites. I actually enjoy hearing people sing who can carry a tune. That is definitely not the focus of the audition episodes which are generally filled with performances that are the equivalent of nails on a blackboard.
On the plus side, these Idol eps are definitive proof that "The Secret" doesn't really work. While certain contestants know they're bad and simply show up to get a laugh and appear on TV, far too many tone-deaf others are convinced they are talented up-and-comers who will build a career in the music industry. They can see it in their heads and believe it in their hearts. And according to "The Secret," that's all you need to do. Of course, none of these singers are ever heard from again.
Why are these people so blind to a fact that is obvious to the rest of us? These auditioners may be very nice people, but they simply can't carry a tune. There's no harm in that. Yet they fight this observation with anger and tears. For me, this reveals the dark side of the modern emphasis on self-esteem above all else.
I'm a firm supporter that all kids and even adults need a healthy sense of self-esteem to succeed in this life. Otherwise, we become doormats who always feel inferior to others. God didn't create us to be failures. We're supposed to reflect Him and all His goodness and mercy. To make that happen however, we need what parenting expert Dr. David Walsh calls a "healthy self esteem."
In an interview with Mcleans.ca, Dr. Walsh offers this definition - "...we've distorted the definition of self-esteem. Self-esteem is not the same thing as feeling good. Self-esteem is a realistic self-appraisal, an appreciation of my strengths and knowledge of my weaknesses. We have a myth that frustration and disappointment damage self-esteem. That's why a lot of us get overprotective, and try to shield our kids from bad feelings, because we're afraid they will hurt their self-esteem."
My guess is that the Idol auditioners who can't seem to accept their lack of singing talent have been surrounded by people who didn't want to hurt their feelings or that simply view their loved ones' talents through rose colored glasses. In the long run, that is damaging to these people. Simon Cowell's criticisms toward these auditioners are often harsh and cruel. As a viewer, I think "It's true but he could have said it in a nicer way." But depending on how ingrained the delusions of talent are, maybe a harsh appraisal is what's needed to bring the singers' back to reality.
There are definitely times when Simon crosses the line in his cruelty, and when he criticizes singers who have a little talent that might simply need training and development. But mostly, he is on the mark. So while I'll occasionally check out what this year's batch of early contestants brings to the table, I'll really be looking forward to the day when the talent shines a lot brighter.