Those contestants did not put themselves out there for the cameras. Thousands of people audition days before the judges arrive and are weeded out by producers who choose the most entertaining characters, talented or otherwise. Some of the horrible-sounding singers are encouraged by the producers and these singers build up this confidence about their voices which shatter in front of the cameras when they hear from the so-called expert judges.
The program has nothing to do with talent. The ones who do make it to the next round were chosen for their ‘commercial’ sound which would be marketable in the United States. In parts of Europe and Australia, some of the finalists chosen have a more ‘classical’ than ‘pop’ sound because of that region’s culture and preference. Many talented people have also been passed on by the judges in favor of other singers with an interesting story good for television drama.
Like anything else on television, do not accept anything on face value. I’ve personally met some of the rejects shown on the show, and they actually think they have talent. When you have producers telling you how good you are, of course you’ll think that way. I’m pretty sure many of them are not faking it.
The reality is, us members of the entertainment industry do manipulate the final product, whether it is manipulating the situation itself or altering the footage. Television was never meant to be ‘real’, otherwise nobody would be watching.
When it all comes down to it, the purpose of these programs is not to discover talent, but to make money. The audition episodes generate a lot of ratings and the network loves that. They don’t care if anyone’s self-esteem gets hurt in the process. The recent event of a former contestant committing suicide has caused the network to make changes for the next season.
American Idol is respected in the television industry because of its ability to generate big business in a cost-effective way while becoming a major cultural phenomenon. Good news for global conglomeration. The Pop Idol franchise has made big bucks selling its format in many countries and extending its cultural and commercial influence on societies. This franchise also expands to other industries.
The market audience (the consumers) is conditioned to become fan bases of the contestants in order to promote album/concert sales, products created by the franchise (e.g., American Idol posters, karaoke tracks, dolls, etc.) and corporations sponsoring the franchise (e.g. Ford Motor Company, Coca-Cola and Cingular Wireless).
The reason American Idol found such popularity is because of its format. In the reality television genre, the audience generally identifies with one of its own, an everyday person. The preliminary auditions with terrible singers helps the everyday viewer with his or her own’s personal insecurities. This resonates well in American culture, which is competitive in nature. I’ve seen the Pop Idol format in other countries, and the criticism isn’t as harsh depending on that region’s cultural values. The audience identify with the ones who do make it, giving them the impression that they too can become superstars one day. Who hasn’t dreamed about becoming a star?
I don’t know if it is sinful to watch such programs. I personally do not watch American Idol regularly and although I do find the first few episodes humorous, I feel a little concerned for the people who were subjected to that kind of thing.
Sorry to make this post long, just thought I should warn you.