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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Column: How awesome we are

Season nine of “American Idol” premiered Tuesday night with its typical share of tear-inducing back-stories, quirky characters and – inevitably – horribly and hilariously awful “singers.” Now, after watching “American Idol” for the past seven years, nothing on the show can faze me anymore. I’ve seen it all with the safety of my remote control in hand.

Girls clad in skimpy bikinis thinking they can sing as well as they can strut? Check. Over-aged men who mumble and jumble the lyrics to a Top 20 song? Check. Contestants who can’t control their excessively dirty mouth, let alone hold a musical note? A million checks.

Instead of laughing uncontrollably at the contestants as I did when the show first started (I was in the 6th grade), I’m beginning to feel pity toward them.

How’s it possible for them to even THINK about trying out for a singing competition when they are so obviously incapable of singing? Have they seriously heard themselves? I mean, where in the world did they get the memo that they’re vocally talented?

On second thought, to literally answer my last question: Only in the United States of America. Yes, only in America. Only in America are young people indoctrinated with the “You’re awesome. You can do it!” mentality. While other countries are telling their children they suck and need to actually earn a better living, the U.S. is telling its children that all they need to succeed is a reality T.V. show and minimal talent. Skip the 15-hour workdays; all you need is the 15 seconds of fame.

You can sing one octave? That’s amazing! Voice enhancement technology will do the rest for you! (I shall refrain from citing Miley Cyrus for fear of cliché).

Everyone loves to think they’re the “next big thing” waiting to be discovered, and no one really bothers to claim otherwise.

I don’t just mean reality T.V. and angst-driven teen stars; I’m talking about college students as well. We enjoy pretending we are poor, misunderstood souls and in the process, have our friends confirm our pretentious preconceived notions.

Like how could I fail poetry class? My poetic talent SURELY is just too deep for my professor to swim in. I’m the next Wordsworth … Yeats … Pound! You name it, and I am IT!

Another tactic we love to use is the fishing for compliments technique. You know, the one that goes along the lines of, “Blegh. I look nastyyy … Don’t I look nasty?” (Insert long sigh here.)

And of course, the reply goes:

“Nah. You look bee-u-tee-ful. Gorgeous. Simply amazing.” (Ignore the chapped lips, baggy eyes and pungent smell.)

Hear it enough times and we actually start believing it, and once we start believing it, we act upon it. And whoops, here spawns the Miley Cyruses (sorry, couldn’t resist) and American Idol wannabes of this country.

We also love repetition. We love repeating Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” on our iPods because we all know deep down we’re the stars of our life, right? The same concepts apply to our self-absorbed motivation. Looking into the mirror isn’t all that fun, unless you can believe “Wow. I am a BEAST.” Hear and repeat it enough times and it begins to be true to us (furry hair and claws included.) In our minds, what we see is what we get.

Ultimately, our egos get inflated to a point of (almost) no return. This is what drives us to have that “courage” to think we are better than we truly are and in the process make fools of ourselves on national television (without even realizing it). This is what causes us to claim how “misunderstood” we are, when really, we’re just too self-absorbed to notice everyone else is likely feeling the same way. This is what causes us to step out the door with a pair of mismatched socks and rainbow eye shadow, thinking we look awesome and “unique.”

There’s still hope for most of us, though. Just don’t talk to yourself in front of the mirror after an all-nighter and convince yourself you look awesome. Don’t sign up for the next season of “American Idol,” either. Trust me, just don’t do it.

TIFFANY LEW has a ridiculous attachment to “American Idol.” As a matter of fact, she’s attached to everything from her childhood. Contact her at tjlew@ucdavis.edu about whether or not she should let go.


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