I guess you’re wondering why I’m writing about such a show and how I link it to my dear president, George W. Bush. My wife, Karen Kelly-Blake, alerted me to a very interesting New York Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/31/arts/television/31idol.html?8dpc) on the efforts of Howard Stern, an extremely popular radio talk show host, to undermine Idol by “supporting Sanjaya Malakar, the off-key, lyric-fumbling, elaborately coiffed teenager who is perhaps the most talked-about “Idol” contestant ever.”
Be patient with me getting to the point of this commentary.
As we have done countless times, Karen and I discuss the sociopolitical, cultural, and racial aspects of any phenomenon. Karen argued that America’s voting patterns (in this case, many of the voters are young people) revealed a lot about itself in terms of what it tends to worship—image. Furthermore, she highlighted the racial/cultural aspects of Mr. Malakar’s presence on the show this late in the competition. Karen, using her anthropological lens (Somebody hook this sister up with a job; she’s getting her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Michigan State University in a minute!) noted Malakar was getting significant support and attention from the East Indian communities in the U.S. and India as a means of group recognition and pride. “However,” she added “sometimes people tie themselves to the wrong horse.” Well said.
Hang on, I’m getting there!
My wife’s observations stimulated my thinking. I started to play a game of word association. “Hmmm…a Fox channel…worshipping image…public voting…race…unjustly supporting someone with limited talent…providing a forum for someone mediocre, at best…someone off-key…someone that fumbles words…what could it beeeeeee…EUREEKA! IT’S FOX NEWS, THE PRESIDENT, AND AMERICA!!” I was quite proud of my thinking! I knew I could do it! See what over one hundred thousand dollars of school loan debt can do for someone!
Of course, George Bush is not on Idol and the issues that face America and the rest of the world are grave. However, the Fox News Channel versus Fox’s Idol and the Idol voting public versus the American voting public have some eerie similarities.
Like Fox’s television channels, Fox News deals in entertainment. Both bend truth and reality. Fox channel claims Idol is a reality-based show, featuring the hopes and dreams of people that want to win. Contestants believe that the best will win, that if they work hard and get the right amount of support they will be successful. Fox channels give those contestants a forum. Unfortunately, Mr. Malakar has gotten a forum. Better contestants have lost that forum. And so it is with Fox News and George Bush. Fox News provides Bush with the right support; it makes President Bush’s reality (his policies) the truth. Bush believes his policies are right. Tax breaks for the ultra-rich are right. Using lies to invade a sovereign nation are right. Policies that take away American freedoms and privacy in order to make America “safe” are right. Better analyses or ideas on how America’s challenges can be addressed have been lost or, sadly, been repressed. Fox News ties its fate to George Bush. If Bush is right, then Fox News is right. Truth becomes a casualty.
The Idol voting public is fickle; it values style over substance. The best people or ideas don’t win. This mimics the electoral voting public; it is fickle. It appreciates style over substance. Empty terms such as “Bring ‘em on” or testicle-grabbing international foreign policy is sexy and is desired. A majority of American public wants to believe “The War on Terror” can be “won.” It re-elected Bush. Bush says the war can be won, especially if more troops are sent to Iraq. Bush’s belief that any war can achieve peace is the hallmark of his style. A majority of the American public accepts his style. It supports his policies. Opinion polls indicate that a majority of the American voting public does not support his policies. This is a lie because if America truly did not support his policies it would impeach him and remove him and most of his administration NOW! The American voting public is exactly like the Idol voters; both enjoy poor performance or mock good performance. Bush is Malakar and Malakar is Bush.Rev. Blake is a Baptist minister and writer from East Lansing, Michigan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.