Recently an idol was born although manufactured would be a better adjective and I might say it is nice to see something manufactured in America these days. It won’t be long before China starts importing their own idols for us to worship since we have been consuming pretty much everything else they send to our shores. But American Idol has just selected a fresh 17 year girl who is now our very own “diety.” I heard it said by one of the judges that this was a singing contest, not a popularity contest so why don’t they call it American Singer? Because we won’t worship at the feet of a singer, we need idols since long ago our spiritual connection to the real thing got supplanted by our cell phone connection. And you know what happened to the last batch of us who choose idol worship over “you know who.” It doesn’t matter because in less time than it take for a fish to mature, we will have forgotten this idol and our attention will be turned to the newer, shinier idol, who is even now, at this writing waiting in the wings.
I have been in show business, since 1975 where my first stint was with the circus as an elephant groom so I can dish some dirt on the industry with more credibility than most. One of the most poignant things I have ever heard was from a well known British Singer/Composer Anthony Newley who said, “Performing artists and entertainers in America are like Kleenex, you use them once and throw them away.” This I heard in 1985! Of course by that time I had been retired from my shovel for some ten years but I should have kept it as it would be useful even today. It takes a shovel and the willingness to resist the gag reflex when watching the industry fabrication phenomenon.
The definition of a fad is something that is created from the top and moves down. A trend on the other hand starts at the bottom and moves up. Fads are created by the industry executives with the hope that it moves far enough down the food chain that us single celled thinkers can consume it. Trends are created by the rest of us, the people who are referred to as ‘grassroots’ and when they take hold the top of this chain responds and gives us what we have already been giving ourselves. The Grateful Dead, Phish, organic food, recycling, Fair Trade were not created for us, but created by us and that is why they lasted. Okay, Jerry died but everybody does, his music however lives on.
The Dead were America’s longest running band with some 25 years of playing and touring…..what is the likely hood of our new Idol making it to one tenth of that with a prominence and fan base that will last longer that 2.5 years? By that time she will be leaving the gleam of teen hood and becoming an adult woman and we all have seen what happens to immature singing stars once they hit twenty. They are doing everything they can to stay in the public’s eye which inevitably means humiliating themselves for all of us to see, because the only thing that holds American’s attention more than watching a star rising is watching it crash and burn.
So to our new winner, “Save your money like they won’t buy your records tomorrow, don’t believe what the press writes about you, make and keep your friends on the way up because if you are nice to them today, they will be there for you tomorrow when all the ticket buyers have long gone home and forgotten who you are.”
© Michael Marlin 2007