What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this hugely popular reality competition show has spawned countless other similar series. The judges' rapport and comments are as big a part of the show as the singing. Their feedback, primarily Simon Cowell's (who left the show in 2010), can be severe and hurtful ("you remind me of a wasp," "that was terrible," "that was the worst one yet"), though the new judges take a gentler approach. People of all backgrounds and body types try out for the show, if only to get a few minutes to meet the judges and/or get their 10 seconds of fame. Contestants have been mocked for cross-dressing, lack of talent, strange attire, dressing/acting sexy, and general physical appearance. The camera lingers on contestants who respond to the judges with joy or bleeped obscenities, hand gestures, and tears. Parents should also know that the show is a walking advertisement, with commercial products embedded throughout.
What's the story?
Every season, the AMERICAN IDOL judges -- Simon Cowell (2002-2010), Paula Abdul (2002-2009), Randy Jackson (briefly Kara DioGuardi, and Ellen DeGeneres), and now Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler -- and host Ryan Seacrest visit cities across the United States, judging thousands of hopeful singers. The program showcases performers at both ends of the spectrum: The very \
Is it any good?
The contestants' emotional, sometimes astounding performances grab those watching at home, who also feel involved in the process, since their votes determine the show's outcome. The judges' often over-the-top personalities have become infamous, as well as reality-show benchmarks. And while adults know that Simon's putting on a performance with his constant jabs, for kids, is this the standard of judging we want modeled? It's worth thinking about. Though beginning in 2011, judges Lopez and Tyler take a gentler approach.
Many contestants are clearly looking for their moment in the spotlight. But plenty of the Idol wannabes are in it because they're truly talented singers who are dreaming of a big break. Many winners and runners-up have gone on to become true pop stars, proving that the show's formula -- as unforgiving as it can be -- really does work.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the audition process. Are the contestants who clearly have no singing ability auditioning for real or for fame? How can critiques be helpful to those who take the competition seriously? What's the difference between constructive and destructive criticism?
What is talent, and what talents do your kids feel they have? Does this series inspire them? If so, in what way?
What do kids think of the way the judges speak to the contestants?
How is the show making money by having consumer products obvious at every turn?