Thursday, February 08, 2007

American Idol and Impossible Expectations

Tristi Pinkston wrote on her blog about American Idol because Robison Wells once said on the blog Six LDS Writers and a Frog that writing about celebrities is one way to get lots of hits on your website or blog. This is because search engines pick up any references no matter where they occur when they give search results.

That's not why I'm mentioning American Idol here, but it can't hurt, I'm sure.

I've worked at elementary schools, middle or junior high schools, and high schools. I've seen thousands of kids through the years, and one thing that has always concerned me is that for some reason, the kids have each been taught that they are special, in fact, much more special than the exceedingly special kid sitting next to them.

I don't know if this concept came from their parents, doting grandparents, or school, but I can sure see the results on American Idol and other talent search programs. A week or two ago, one contestant told everyone who would listen that he was a superstar. We could ask anyone: his mother, father, siblings, his two therapists, anyone!!! He sure couldn't sing or dance, and his personality was egocentric. His countenence was not particularly star-like (after all, stars are usually unusually beautiful people). The three Starmakers, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson, refused to send him off to Hollywood, whereupon he railed mightily against them for their short-sightedness. He wasn't the only one who did so, not by a long shot.

I see no fault in telling a child that he or she is unique, a child of God, a person of worth, but a superstar? Are there not multitudes of ways a person can make a difference to others and to him/herself besides being The Next American Idol? To give a child false hopes, impossible expectations, or to saddle them with a parent's unfulfilled dreams, is just wrong!

A lot of people will have to answer for muddled choices in this life, me included, but I've never told a child of mine that they could sing if they can't (of course, they all, having my husband's and my genes, can, but not to the level of American Idol pop-stars). I've never told them they could achieve in fields where they had no talents. I hope I've encouraged them to seek to do their best where they have strengths.

I feel sorry for fresh-minted adults whose parents or leaders led them to believe they have gifts they don't possess, who gave them such an utterly impossible view of themselves. I'm afraid a lot of them are showing up for us to laugh at on American Idol.


  1. I agree with you on both counts, Marsha:

    1. It's fun to talk about American Idol, regardless of why we're doing it. :)

    2. It does your child no favors to tell them they're good at something when they're not. You don't have to criticize them or hurt their feelings, but it's wrong to make them think they're a whole lot better than they are. Accentuate the positive, as the song says.

  2. I thought the same thing when I watched those early episodes of the new season--that I would be furious if I believed in some false ability to the extent that I ended up a laughingstock on national TV. My kids know I love em and think they're amazing--but they also know better than to ask my opinion and expect a snow job.


I welcome your comments.

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