Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Roll over Comrade

Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions here laid forth are mine and mine alone. They in no way represent the thoughts or opinions of the Peace Corps or the United States Government.

The communist experiment is officially dead. I witnessed its final gasp just this evening. The death nail was not hammered home with Reagan wielding the handle, nor Sakarov, nor the purveyors of Perestroika. No my friends it was Simon Cowell of American Idol fame.
Tonight I watched Hay Superstar the Armenian version of American Idol complete with the same intro music, stage and visuals. I knew this show begun in England and transferred well to the US, but I had no idea it had been bottled up and sent overseas like this. If it’s in Armenia I gotta believe it’s in many other former Soviets also. I can’t imagine the gyrations that Lenin must be performing in his exposed tomb right now.
I’m laying myself a bit bare here… but I watched the last 2 seasons of American Idol. In my defense it initially started as a way for me and my buddies to have yet another way to bet on things. After watching the first show of performers we would all draft our horses for the upcoming season and place wagers ranging from different sized packages of imported beer to a guaranteed performance of some embarrassing and foolish act in the presence of many friends and strangers. We usually didn’t watch the show, mostly just checked up to see who had been thrown off each week. Afterwards, we would ceremoniously cross off the latest casualty.
The American show was terrible. The “talent” was not talented, being just a springboard for the most marketable person. Things like… oh I don’t know… vocal ability… or… I don’t know… vocal ability… played about 15th fiddle behind things like teenie-bopper appeal or being from the middle of America where all the 12 year old girls had more than enough time to lob forth ludicrous amounts of votes by text message. For those of you who watched, think Bob Ice.
America is a big place made up of 50 states. The current Republic of Armenia is the size of Maryland, not a particularly large state. (Interesting sidebar; apparently if you cut Alaska in half Texas would be the 3rd largest state(a little shout out to my Peace Corps A-14 readership))… If from this great ocean of talent in America decent performers for American Idol cannot be found, one can imagine what is brought up from the relative kiddy pool of Armenia after the nets are cast. It’s not pretty. Add to that poorly pronounced songs in English and you’re left with a potent brew. The screeches are shocking.
But of course, everyone loves it and its popularity is comparable to the US show. This penultimate exemplar of Western capitalism (there still aren’t any McDonalds here) is chalk full of advertisements as the performers sing, and commercials between nearly every song. The push for consumption is nothing short of gratuitous. The Evil Empire has been transformed into a teeming mass of consumers… and God bless it! I wonder if Stalin could have appreciated the sway this show and its ilk have on the masses, or if he is rolling over in his grave too?

2 comments:

Taylor Hicks said...

What do you mean vocal ability plays 18th fiddle? Are the Ford commercials not reaching the Caucasus?

PS: If AI is the penultimate examplar, then what's the ultimate?

PPS: War Joe in the OC!

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