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American Idol: Where Do We Go from Here?by Linda Dougherty -- 09/09/2002
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Even with the prospect of the new television season on the horizon, American Idol withdrawal is beginning to set in for many. You know who you are. Given the weekly Neilsen ratings during the show's run, there are several million viewers out there right now who are starting to feel idle without Idol to look forward to in the upcoming weeks.
Granted, the summer lacks original television programming, but there was something more that made this show such a phenomenon, and makes the upcoming season seem bleak in comparison to the juggernaut that it became.
What will we talk about at work and home now that we won't be watching Kelly and Justin and Nikki and Tamyra and all the J's sing their hearts out for us? What will happen to them? Will Kelly's voice be okay? What color will Nikki dye her hair next? Will Justin ever get a haircut? What will those lame co-hosts do now? What will we do on Tuesdays and Wednesdays?
American Idol took dedication. Sixty minutes on Tuesdays to watch the performances, then two hours of follow-up calling to vote your favorite onward, then another thirty minutes on Wednesday evenings to get the results. Not to mention all the time reading articles online! Many may have invested up to 3.5 hours of their lives each week into the show. It is likely that American Idol got more of our attention this summer then some other things in our lives did. My house, for one, did not receive as much TLC as I found myself giving to the show each week. I'll do anything not to clean, so watching those kids perform each week frankly was a welcome excuse.
But who expected to get so involved? I guess when you spend that much time on something you tend to become obsessive about it. We picked our favorites and felt as if we had developed a relationship with them over the summer. I for one picked up on Kelly Clarkson right away. Obviously, I wasn't in the minority, but I can't help feeling 19 Entertainment should be making me a job offer at this point.
Perhaps my summertime efforts would have been better placed in tending to the garden, or cleaning, or reading - but I don't care. American Idol was a fun and frivolous pastime. Now what do we do for fun? I'm not sure I could develop another relationship like this with a new group. I mean how many Kelly Clarksons or Tamyra Grays can there possibly be out there? It would be very unsatisfying to invest so much time and not see stars like them developed at the end of the program. Boy, I'm gonna miss those kids now that we've sent them out into the cruel world.
Unlike the movies, at least we will have the satisfaction of watching the second part of their rags-to-riches stories unfold for real. We get to watch them really go after their dreams now. The finale of American Idol was really just the beginning for them. Our work is done; it's really up to them now. Gosh, I almost feel like I just sent my kid off to college. Weird, I know, but that's the way it feels. Damn that American Idol!
The real center of the appeal was probably our ability to be the final judges each week. By God, we were loyal to our favorites. If we disagreed with the judges we would simply cast our votes and prove them wrong, and if we agreed with their comments we felt vindicated for our time and effort. Now I must redirect my efforts. I don't need to make sure Kelly Clarkson gets her recording contract anymore.
In addition to entertaining us all summer, American Idol tapped into our psyches. People who pursue their talents are truly remarkable aren't they? Those among us who don't really feel talented at anything where able to latch on to the talents of someone like Kelly and put our efforts into making sure her talent didn't go unnoticed any longer. Now what do we focus on? For others among us, watching these kids put themselves out there every week in their effort to get their talent noticed re-ignited our need to go after something we wanted. That's a little scary but what else is there to do now that AI is gone?
Unfortunately all good things come to an end and I guess it's time to move on without American Idol for distraction. I for one will miss my weekly devotional. I guess I'll have to do some much neglected cleaning up while I listen to my American Idol compilation CD.
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