(original post-date: June 2, 2010)
Several weeks ago, in my posting entitled Observations from the Niche-Free Zone, I confessed to being an American Idol watcher.
I love the show.
But, I also love my time, and so I am glad the show is over.
What I didn’t confess in that April 21st posting (and, frankly, the context didn’t call for it) is that I also have got caught up occasionally in Dancing with the Stars.
I can be drawn into that show, too.
But, I still love my time, and so it takes a certain amount of talent to draw me in completely.
This year, in DWTS, the talent was awesome when it came down to the bottom three.
And so I watched.
And so… my Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights were a bit “booked” in May.
But, am I wasting my time? I don’t think so. I get too much joy from what I am witnessing. And, in my opinion, joy should never be deemed a waste of time.
A couple years ago, when I was on the East Coast, I had dinner with a friend in the D.C. area. She told me of a man she worked with at the relatively conservative law firm that has employed her for decades. She recounted hushed conversations by the water cooler, her co-worker – this man, high up on the corporate food chain – wanting to sneak in some whispered dialogue about the previous night’s American Idol or Dancing with the Stars episode.
It’s sad to me that a person might feel at risk of being judged negatively simply because he or she enjoys this prime-time entertainment. One could do a lot worse…
When I posted the aforementioned Observations essay and therefore essentially “outed” myself as an Idol watcher, I also shared that there’s a character in my second (not yet published) novel who did a good job of explaining the desire to watch that show. Now that the season’s over, I feel like sharing her words.
So, I’ll set up the scene for you.
The Idol-watching character is Brittany. She’s a pierced, tattooed, heart-on-her-sleeve twenty-something who has endeared herself to Martin, the new neighbor in her Los Feliz apartment building. Martin – the protagonist of my novel – is going through a midlife crisis and has recently moved from the Valley Village house he shared with his soon-to-be-ex-wife. Unrelated to all of that, Martin has never watched Idol.
When Brittany mentions “AI” in conversation and Martin doesn’t make the connection, she teases him. In response, he shares that he has no interest in “reality shows.”
This is how Brittany reacts (bouncy from her Mountain Dew buzz):
It’s not a reality show. It’s a talent show. And it’s beautiful. I swear, I’m such a sap. By the final six or seven weeks, I can’t get through an episode without crying. I mean, God, Martin, it’s about dreams. It’s about risk-taking. It’s about taking a lot of shit, putting it on the line, competing with people who have become your newest friends, wanting to win and not wanting anyone else to lose. It’s amazing. It’s people younger than me being so incredibly fucking brave.
I hear you, Brittany, I hear you. Because, I’m also a sap.
Without fail, I cry through the final few weeks of that show.
But is that so surprising?
I invented Brittany. She is a part of me.
Just as Martin is.
Martin’s the part of me that thinks it’s all silly and a waste of time.