Fame and Fortune vs. Talent

Is American Idol setting a good example for your kids?

American Idol clearly shows we’re placing too much emphasis on fame and fashion rather than on individual talent and the contributions people make.

Consider these Facts:

1. American Idol is the number one, most-watched show according to the Nielsen ratings.1
2. More people watch the Wednesday evening American Idol, when people get voted off the show, than the Tuesday evening show, where contestants sing and compete.2
3. This season (season 9) has experienced rating drops, with fewer viewers than in previous years.3
4. Contestant Crystal Bowersox was hospitalized during this American Idol season.4 Experts say the pressure and schedule is too intense, and that a number of contestants in previous years have either been hospitalized, gotten sick, or have been injured.5
5. TV Guide magazine published an article on _American Idol_’s Best and Worst Makeovers. Aaron Kelly (who was voted off May 5) got an A-. Siobhan Magnus (who was voted off April 28) got a C-.5

Here’s My Take on It:

Now that Lee DeWyze is the new American Idol, I think there’s been too much emphasis on moving contestants from rags to riches. (The final three Idols consisted of a paint salesman, a single mom, and a construction worker.) We’re overlooking what American Idol should really be about: finding and expressing your true spark. When American Idol contestants sounded like recording artists, they performed songs that fit who they were; they stretched themselves artistically; and they added their unique talent, creativity, and personality to each song. Unfortunately, the fame-and-fashion factor too often overshadowed contestants finding their true voice, deepening their passions, and growing as singers.

The competition also became too much about popularity (or making a statement), rather than about voting for true singing talent. (The Web site www.votefortheworst.com encouraged people to vote for the worst singer to win, and it lobbied hard for people to vote for Lee DeWyze.) As a family, we talked about the years that it takes to develop a craft or a skill and that the American way of instant success and instant fame can get in the way of the commitment and artistry that really matters. Instead of over-idolizing the new American Idol, we should focus on the potential of each one of our kids and help them find their sparks and unique voices.

Talk Further

Ask your child: “Would you ever compete on American Idol? Why or why not?”

Explore Further

Is American Idol setting a good example for your kids? Share your comments below.


1. USA Today, “Prime-Time Nielsen Ratings,” USA Today, May 19, 2010, 5D.
2. Ibid.
3. Bill Keveney, “Idol Ratings Take a Tumble,” USA Today, May 4, 2010.
3. Gil Kaufman, “Crystal Bowersox Hospital Stay Is Latest American Idol Health Scare,” MTV.com news, March 3, 2010.
4. Ibid.
5. Shawna Malcom, “American Idol’s Best and Worst Makeovers,” TV Guide Magazine, April 2010.

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