05 April 2007

Idol Thoughts

The New York Times published a ridiculous article by someone named Alessandra Stanley, a TV critic. She makes some points that left me incredulous. See it for yourself if you like.

She claims that the success of American Idol is due to the way that voters feel after the popular vote was insufficient to elect Al Gore in the 2000 election. My response to the author, sent via the Times' website, follows here:

Ms Stanley,
I thought your TV Watch article from the Wednesday edition of the Times to be filled with fallacious reasoning.
Idol received over 33 million votes this week. It is safe to assume that the actual number of individual voters is smaller, perhaps in the 10 million voter range, assuming somewhere around 3 votes per voter. Of that group, how many were eligible voters in 2000? Idol has a significant following among younger viewers. They are also the most likely to vote for their favorite, having been raised in a time, not of political disenfranchisement, but of technological empowerment. We can only guess at the number of voters that feel guilt over the events of the 2000 election, but based on ratings statistics and voter turnout for the weekly Idol contest, the number dealing with "displacement rituals" can't be all that significant. Furthermore, Idol is a British creation, spawned from their own successful series and not as an outgrowth of the repressed American voter. Does the success of Idol overseas reflect voter guilt in France? Russia? Denmark? Kazakhstan?More likely you column is an attempt by a partisan to inject politics into a matter that is apolitical. Your comparison to Dean's scream is also inept, as the scream was the result of his surprise 3rd place finish in the Iowa Caucus. It contributed to a demise already in progress.
This quote is troubling:
"Maybe the reason that more people didn’t turn out for the 2004 presidential race, despite the closeness of the tally four years earlier, is that they were still in denial and distracted by 'American Idol.'"
Why is that? The 2004 election saw more voters participate than any other in history. Are you blaming John Kerry's loss on "Idol distraction?" Perhaps there were simply more people that wanted George Bush to win, independant of reality TV's impact.
You mention that in American Idol, voters have the final word. In our system of government they do as well, within the bounds set by the US Constitution. Electors are sent by the states. The voters of those states, in elections run by those states and municipalities, determine which party's electors are sent. Using the electoral system does not remove the voter's say. It focuses on the collective intent of a state's voters, consistent with our Federalist system.
I apologize if I failed to realize that your column was satire. However, if your intentions were serious, it confirms a sad trend toward mediocrity that plagues this publication.

Not impressive.

2 comments:

Lillie said...

WOW Joe. That WAS impressive. Will you get a response from her?

Justin said...

THAT is true. I want her to DIE. Just joking, but seriously, why does everything have to relate to politics?