Every week thousands of FAMILIES, and I stress families, parents and children alike, sit in front of the television set to watch the rising stars of American Idol. On the show itself, the audience is comprised of – yup — you got it — families. Holding those big signs that say “Lauren Rocks” or “Scotty is OUR American Idol,” with hearts and stars painted in pink markers next to the Idols’ names, are little girls. And despite what people think, the ones who text their votes every Wednesday night — nope, it’s not me or you, the 30 – 40 something woman — the texting fingers belong to little girls between the ages of 8 -17. Maybe some 20-year-olds as well, but they’re already out in the world, in college, drinking and partying, and this post is not really about them since the damage has already occurred for most of them.
American Idol is a family show — this is why it airs at 8pm every week. This is why we see screaming little girls crying and bouncing on the heels of their feet in the audience, their parents sitting beside them. These little girls feel like they’re taking part in history — voting for a star the way adults feel when they vote for the President of the United States of America — it’s that important to them — their world wrapped up in TV, movies, singers, and dreams that they too can achieve such stardom.
So if this is a family show — intended for families and little kids, then why does the show invite such salacious guests to strut their stuff and body parts for the sake of selling albums on this FAMILY show? Let’s look at the evidence:
This past Thursday, American Idol featured 3 stars:
1. Lady Gaga: She the mentor on Wednesday’s show, listening to the remaining four artists and aiding them — which was interesting with her makeup choice and her one piece bathing suit. And even though she did not sing live on American Idol’s elimination night, the producers decided to grace us with a segment from one of her concerts. She is a musician, an artist, and a talented one at that. I’m not arguing that. And she rocks on that piano as if she were born to play. It’s magical how talented she is. But why does she have to wear a bikini with a Madonna-like cone-shaped bra? And why did she not sit on her piano bench the entire song? Why did she have to crouch on its surface and gyrate her hips towards the piano? And then, why did she have to stand on the chair, her long legs straight, her butt sticking out so that we can have a view of her crotch, her chest and head lowered down as she continued to play on the piano?
You want a look-see?
And why in God’s name — in Family’s sake — would American Idol show this when the audience, on site and off site, is comprised of kids — young, impressionable children hungry for identity and someone to look up to. And here’s Lady Gaga, who played on the piano at the age of four by ear — that’s god-given talent — and she’s an icon — but not for her talent as much as she is known for her strangeness and unconventionality. I’m all for unique and unconventional, but really, on American Idol. Shame on you, American Idol, producers, CEO’s, and anyone else who was in charge of this decision.
2. And then came Enrique Iglesias, Latin lover himself, with his rendition of “Dirty Dancer” featuring Usher on the screen in the background. They’re both sexy men — and yet they are fully covered. Iglesias is covered from neck to toes in black — a lean, thin, sexy machine of masculinity singing about a girl who is a dirty dancer. Yup. Dirty. Not a dnacer. Not a good dancer; a provocative dancer — specifically, a DIRTY dancer. There’s a difference. And after checking out the song’s video, I am repulsed. Enrique is in his hotel room watching a beautiful girl on a commercial selling herself — and she’s the dirty dancer he sings of. How nice. How American Idol appropriate. I can just imagine all the teen-aged girls on the show or watching from home loving this song — wanting to be his dirty dancer –after all, guys like you when you act dirty. It’ll make ya popular. And then they rush on to their computers and search for the “Dirty Dancer” video, and –OMG– that’s a dirty girl. But she’s so pretty and Enrique Iglesias is dreaming about her. If I’m dirty, maybe someone like him will want me too and then I will be fulfilled and the aching hole inside me won’t exist any more. Nice job, Iglesias — especially since young girls watch your video — they are your target audience — No crooning love machine like your father, are you? You’re just a dirty little boy who wants wants to make money by being salacious and offering this style of dirtiness to little girls that pay money for your crap. Thank you! We love having our girls tainted and marred for life. We love having their sexual identity prescribed by your greed. You’re a real man. And so is your manager, your album producer, and so on.
And thanks, American Idol for having him on this FAMILY show. Let’s look at how happy these young girls are to watch Enrique Iglesias sing about the lust he feels for a “Dirty Dancer.” And let’s pay careful attention to Ryan Seacrest’s introduction, with the backdrop of a lovely mother and a bunch of young girls cheering him on, delighted to listen to a dirty song about girlhood and womanhood.
Here it is:
And by all means, youtube the actual video just to see how repulsive the video is. What smut — and it’s all directed at our girls, defining femininity for them. Are we even aware?
3. Jordin Sparks returns. But wait…that’s not our Jordin Sparks. Not the innocent, sweet Jordin of 17, who rocked the votes two years ago and won the title because of her tremendous talent as a singer. She didn’t dress provocatively then. She didn’t wear a short trench coat and then strip it off to show us a sexy black dress. She wasn’t a siren, a passion goddess — Is she gyrating? Are her hips lowered and protruding and pumping back and forth towards the audience — towards the little girls who are watching? No, it can’t be. Not our Jordin Sparks. She’s not like that — she’s talented.
Watch to see what I mean…
She says, “I’m a Woman — Nobody can do it like I can.” Do what? Sing? You’re right, Jordin. Your voice is amazing. It’s why you won. But the sad part is that someone — your manager, producer of your albums, maybe someone like Lady Gaga or Britney Spears — told you that your sweet and innocent albums of late have not been doing well. You have competition the likes of Kesha, who sings, “We are who we are…looking sick and sexy-fied…dancing like we’re dumb…we’re superstars.”
And then there’s Rihanna who’s into S&M and loves the smell of sex all around her; she wants more than love:
Yes, poor Jordin Sparks has no chance of succeeding with the likes of these sex-entrenched Goddesses reaping the benefits of selling sex along with their talents. Sex sells — well, not all sex — just the female kind. I mean, you don’t see Enrique grinding in his boxer shorts, baring his oil-lathered chest on the stage and puckering his lips. You don’t see John Mayer or Jon Bon Jovi or the lead singer from Maroon 5 doing it. You don’t even see P. Diddy stripping it for his fans. He’s always fully dressed and cool and rich looking. But the rules are different for the girls — no matter how talented they are, they have to sell, not their talent, but their sex. And Jordin Sparks is now singing about being a woman — the kind of woman that grinds and slithers her body like a caterpillar, running her hands along the lines of her ribs right beneath her breasts, trying to get some of the boys to buy her CD’s.
It’s sad. It makes me sad when I see this, wondering where the parents are. OK. She’s too old to answer to her parents, but I’m wondering where self-respect has gone. Dignity. Standing up for what you believe in. Self-preservation. Refrain. I’m hopelessly hoping that these images don’t touch my daughter — that the powerful image of her mother, who does not dress like this — who believes in self-respect and dignity and to hell with what they all think and want will be a stronger, more powerful image for my little girl. I’m hopelessly hoping that these shows start considering their audience and not their ratings. All this sexing up of women on American Idol is not appropriate. It’s unacceptable, and I don’t even let my 8-year-old son watch it. I’m hopelessly hoping that mother and fathers start fighting against these shows — turning them off — spending their money on Tae Kwon Do or other self-defense classes for their girls and boys, because girls need to know how to defend themselves and how to protect their bodies from violation and abuse. I hopelessly hope that moms and dads start taking away ipods and iphones, restrict texting and sexting, and monitor what their girls wear outside their homes — freedom is good — but really, spandex short shorts that reveal the buttocks of your 11 year old is just as inappropriate. But that’s for another post, if you can bear the hopelessness.
For now, I’m going to watch my little girl sleep, her eyes closed, protecting her innocence from the depraved ways of this world in which men and fathers are silent when it comes to issues that affect their daughters; and women and mothers think it’s their daughters’ right and rite to dress provocatively so that they will fit in, be popular, and feel like they are in charge of their sexual identity and power. I’m going to hope all this, hopelessly.