The end is nigh:
[AP] With a strong finishing kick from "American Idol," Fox captured the distinction of America's most popular television network for the first time since it began operation in 1987.
A New York Times editorial, American Awful
Fox's hugely popular search for the next singing sensation started its fourth season last week with a series of vicious encounters between hopeful but pathetically untalented young people and celebrity judges being paid to make fun of them. While the contests do not feature bare breasts or four-letter words, they send a truly dreadful message to millions of young viewers about the proper way to treat fellow human beings.
The producers seem to feel it's funny to watch a trio of wealthy and famous adults making fun of a simple 16-year-old girl whose only sin was being "pretty sure I have a good voice" when she didn't.
... viewers are invited to roar while young people who in many cases appear to be poor, of low intelligence or even mildly disturbed, sing enthusiastically and then stand gape-mouthed with shock while their heroes insult them on national television.
I've never understood the appeal of that show, especially the early rounds. It's very much a conservative-themed "make fun of someone worse off than you" kind of affair. Hey look! There's a guy who lost his leg in a traffic accident. He walks funny. Ha Ha!
Perhaps the viewers of American Idol have a lot of idle time on their duffs. Who remembers Ted Mack's Amateur Hour (radio and TV)? And who remembers in the 1930s and 1940s, pre-TV, local movie theatres with a weekly amateur show featuring locals for the most part? While vaudeville was before my time, I enjoyed reading Boston's own Fred Allen's autobiographies of his days participating in "amateur" shows honing his skills. I guess the comedy clubs made up for this in more recent years. But once again we have "Last Comic Standing" foisted upon us during rerun season. Bring back local amateur hours in our local theatres. Who knows, we might get to love our neighbors - or hate them.
American Idol went through a phase in the '06 & '07 seasons where they focused on a bunch of people in the preliminary rounds who seemed to be slightly retarded, and bad singers. This year, they seemed to back away from that, and showed more inspirational-type stories. There were a few bad singers who seemed to either be slow or emotionally/social stunted. The problem for the show is that they want to show some bad singers for comic relief, but after the first couple of seasons people would show up to sing poorly on purpose, in the hope that they'd get on TV. So, once you're left with sincere bad singers a higher percentage are going to have some sort of issues.