Thursday, August 25, 2005

Canadian Idle

That's what you call a guy like me who watches Canadian Idol but is too ashamed to vote. (I wonder how many others watching consider it a guilty pleasure - I guess that's just the Opus in me.)

The Idol franchise assuredly counts as total pap for the masses of course; another example of shameless exploitation of people who regard themselves as nobodies unless they see their faces on every other web ad, get hounded by the tiresome paparazzi, and have to deal with those grubby fans everywhere they go - never a moment of peace!

And while we're on shameless, I have to hold back my dinner every time they break to those coyly slipped-in ads for fashion magazines, cars and make-up; always featuring our fun-loving young heros in their contrived fantasy-boot-camp TV-land existence.

Oh, and I could go on about host Ben Mulroney, living proof of genetics' supremacy in passing on the recently isolated "Insufferable Gene" (formally named MilaBriMuldoon-16 after the Benster himself). What other combination could've produced this ultimate TV personality from hell?

Still, I somehow cannot bring myself to ignore the show. Maybe because it gives me something to gab about with me dear old Mum, who is quite taken with TV these days, but mostly watches stuff I have no countenance (or cable) for. And it's on at the time I typically find myself sitting on the couch with my 15-month-old boy, Francis, sucking back his beddy-bye bottle. (He just loves that show.)

Vapid as it is, I have to say there is always at least one personality you want to root for. Someone who rises above the show's sacred crass commercialism and star-factory mission.

Except I don't believe it for a second. The producers are too slick and the contestants too perfectly handled. And knowing that it's a booming franchise that reaches to dozens of countries, like that Big Mac that looks and tastes exactly the same in Bangkok as it does in Chicago, you know you're not getting the straight goods.

And just when I thought I had seen it all, wouldn't you know they even have a promising new franchise in - wait for it - Iraq?

Yes, thanks to the intrepid reporting of the London Daily Telegraph’s Oliver Poole, we know that in a country where the power is only on for four hours here and four hours there, where tens of thousands are dying, and where all-out civil war may be just about to explode, none of it gets in the way of sickening commercialism.

Iraq Star has become a television phenomenon since it began six weeks ago and more than 2,000 hopefuls have risked the country's dangerous roads to audition.

This week, in a studio in a corner of Baghdad's Babylon Hotel, a teenage girl attempted one of the Lebanese pop songs popular among young Iraqis only to be mercilessly ridiculed for her inability to dance.

Then, in a musical critique rarely heard on the British version of the show, a singer was upbraided for making a grammatical mistake in her metaphorical tale about a humming bird. " 'Slaughtered bird' is masculine," the judge complained. "But you kept saying it is feminine."

Then, just when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, Poole tells us about the person “being tipped as a winner”: 12-year-old contestant Bilal, of Mosul:

At the audition he performed his own song that told of the destruction of Iraq and the suffering of the children.

Half way through he started to cry and by the time he had finished all three judges were weeping.

Sigh. Alright, where’s that phone…

- 30 -

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