I had my reality show post all written and ready to post, when my husband just announced to me from across the room that Ellen DeGeneres is taking over for Paula next season on American Idol. WHAT?
Okay, I’m sure you would’ve found my fascination with celebrity reality TV (a la Tori & Dean, Guiliana & Bill, Kathy Griffin, and Denise Richards) quite interesting -- and if you want, you can read about it over at my personal blog. But this begs to be discussed. Really? Ellen DeGeneres?
It’s not that I don’t love Ellen, because I think she’s great at what she does. Funny. Love her talk show. But she isn’t a musician. I’ll admit, I’ve sometimes taken issue with Paula and Randy and Kara and Simon, but at least they’re all qualified to judge; they’re all part of the music industry.
According to Ellen, she’s going to represent “the people’s point of view” on the judging panel. Interesting thought, I guess. But don’t the people already have a point of view, as in ourselves, our own unqualified thoughts and opinions?
I guess part of what upsets me is that I’ve always elevated American Idol above other “reality shows.” Yes, it’s a reality show, but it’s miles away from watching the cast of The Real World get drunk and get in fights, or watching Denise Richards plan a baby shower without a party planner. I love watching Idol for what it represents, the idea that someone with raw-undiscovered talent who was unable to break into the business on his/her own can be thrust into the spotlight, judged by America, and given the chance at what felt like an impossible career. I’ve followed Idol from the beginning, starting with Kelly Clarkson’s story, about how she’d moved to LA to give the music business a shot on her own before, but had gotten rejected. And when she won, it felt like a triumph for me, for any artist who has ever been rejected and discouraged.
But now, Idol has Ellen DeGeneres. Maybe she’ll be great. Maybe I – and America – will love her in her new role. But I can’t help but think this, in a way, cheapens the show, makes it less about the talent and more about spectacle. And that makes me sad.
What do you think?
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