I confess: I love American Idol. I believe I've watched every episode of every show since Kelly Clarkson first warbled her way into America's living rooms, through raw talent and an "aw shucks, I'm-justa-lil-gal-from-Texas" charm that melted the cold, cold heart of Simon Cowell and illicit music downloaders everywhere. I look forward to the American Idol season the way men in West Virginia look forward to the first day of deer season. The siren call of FRESH MEAT is just too much for us to ignore.
I don't really care for the early auditions. I do think, however, that all Republican members of Congress should be forced to watch them on a continuous loop with their eyes taped open, like in A Clockwork Orange, until they have no choice but to vote in favor of funding programs for the mentally ill. Clearly, American Idol does more to expose the need for mental health care in America than any 500 page tome issued by the American Psychiatric Association. The parade of the the tragically tone-deaf and delusional is hard to watch without wanting to pop an anti-psychotic yourself or at the very least, invest in Eli Lilly stock.
My favorite part of the audition process is Hollywood Week. In Hollywood, the 200 or so Idol hopefuls culled out of the equivalent to the entire population of Kansas who auditioned, are put through a rigorous program of performing, sleep deprivation, and public humiliation. It's like The Stanford Prison Experiment: The Musical. The idea is that the 200 or so decent singers will be reduced to 36 who will, through head-to-head competition, be winnowed down to 12 that America votes on. Those who make it will advance on and be judged by an army of pre-teens and senior citizens with speed dial. Those who don't move on will likely go back winning karaoke contests and performing in the chorus of the local dinner-theatre's revival of "Annie Get Your Gun."