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RNO Roundtable: Should ‘American Idol’ Have an Age Limit?Page 3
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The show also proved last season they're quite serious about enforcing the age restriction when Delano got tossed when it was revealed he was really 29. He still looked 16-24, but if the show had allowed him to continue, they wouldn't have been able to enforce the age restriction against anyone else in the future.
The cold hard fact is, no matter how talented they may be, a fifty-year-old just does NOT fit the part of a "teen idol." In fact, I'll take it further: in pop and rock music in general, if you haven't achieved at least some degree of national success and recognition by 35 (and I'm being extremely generous here), you can pretty much forget it. This may sound harsh, but it's true. It's also nothing new; it's been that way at least since the dawn of the rock era in the fifties. It's true that people like David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Cher, Sting, and Elton John are still selling plenty of albums and concert tickets well into their forties, fifties, and even sixties, but they all first became successful when they were right around the American Idol age bracket, and most of their fan bases are people who have remained devoted to their careers ever since.
Therefore, not only do I find Drew Cummings' lawsuit ludicrous, but I'm wondering what he's even thinking. Has he even seen the show? Has he seen how they treat the "bad" auditioners? Why would he want to go on something where not only is he going to be eliminated right off the bat, but he's going to be portrayed as a novelty or human punchline in the process? And even if by some miracle he did win, is it really his goal to sing formulaic melodramatic dreck like "A Moment Like This"? I mean, I love Kelly Clarkson and think she's amazingly talented, but when I heard the crap they were going to force the "winner" to sing, I seriously considered throwing my votes to Justin – and I'd be willing to bet that more people bought the CD single in support of Kelly than because they actually liked the songs. (I'm just hoping that when she's free of this contract she'll pull an Alanis Morissette or Pink and release better material that really speaks to her.)
The only logical conclusion I can draw: he's just seeking attention and possible money from a settlement. And I refuse to support negative attention seeking, especially from someone whom one would think is educated and, yes, old enough to know better.
Furthermore, I don't think he has a legal leg to stand on. This isn't a case of him applying for a job at a company that's bound by equal opportunity employment laws. As I said, this is more of a casting call. Kelly Clarkson may have won a contract with the producers, but that doesn't make her an employee of their company. At best, she'd be considered an independent contractor, and even that may be stretching it. To carry this to a ridiculous extreme, if he wins this lawsuit, a 75-year-old guy could conceivably sue for not being allowed to try out for the title role of Annie.
Please don't misunderstand me: I'm certainly not saying that you have to be 16-24 to be interesting or talented. One of my all-time favorite singers is Deborah Harry of Blondie, who turns 58 in July. In fact, most of my favorite musicians wouldn't fall into that age bracket – off the top of my head, the only ones I can think of are the Donnas. But if American Idol wants to find the next "teen idol," then I think that's their right, just like it's your right not to watch if that's not what appeals to you. But to throw, in essence, a glorified temper tantrum because you're past the age limit? There's so many more productive ways one can use one's time.
Does age have anything to do with the “IT” factor? Ozzy is over 50, Jagger is over 50. Bowie, Elton John, etc. Age has nothing to do with coolness. Now I know that those guys started out young, but they remain cool. I think AI should say OK, fine, whoever wants to apply can apply, obviously a 50-year-old might not have the "IT" factor, so they don't even make the first round, but if the prize is an employment contract and actual employment, then legally they must let everyone apply.
Everyone should be able to apply, regardless of their age. If American Idol started banning homosexuals, African-Americans, and women people would understandably be upset. So someone who is told, “We won't even listen to you because you’re over xx age,” has the right to be upset.
Legally, the question is: Is Kelly Clarkson employed by Simon's record company? If she compensated with money for time and effort put forth, if the answer is YES, then she is an employee and she is protected by the age discrimination rules. If she is an employee then everyone trying out for the job is a potential employee and falls under the same laws. But if she is just a prize winner, then the law may not apply here.
So the bottom line on this is this: Does the winner of American Idol get employment with an American company over 20 employees? If yes, then they will probably be found guilty of age discrimination. Would it be so bad if American Idol opened the contest up to whoever wanted to try out?
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