Full Show Index
Advertise With Us
Write For Us
American Juniors: Perspective from a Sane Parentby Nicole Albertson -- 06/06/2003
View Printable version of this article
In case you didn't know, my five-year-old daughter has already won the Nobel prize for literature, become a paleontologist, and found a cure for cancer. My son has become an officer in the U.S. Navy, a lawyer, and a basketball star, all before his second birthday. It's all happened... in my head. Like all parents, I have dreams for my children's futures. Of course, the likelihood that my children will actually aspire to achieve those dreams is about as likely as getting ice water in you-know-where. The truth is that I don't want to tell my kids what to do with their lives any more than I wanted my parents telling me what to do with mine. What I really want is for them to grow up with the ability to make good choices, choices that will ultimately make their lives happy ones.
If you don't have kids, you may think that all good parents would agree with me and try to live by the same philosophy. However, as we saw on American Juniors, this is clearly not the case. The most striking example of this came from a boy who said the following on the Tuesday night audition show: "Being a pop star is stupid. I want to be a trainer at Sea World because I like whales." Ah, to be a fly on the wall when that boy's parents heard his statement on national TV. If he thought being a pop star is stupid, why was he there in the first place? It couldn't possibly be a pushy parent trying to live out an unrealized dream through an unsuspecting child, could it? Certainly not!
To be fair, many of the kids I saw were talented and desperately wanted to be there to perform for the judges. I am in awe of kids like this, the ones who are entirely comfortable in front of the camera and seem magnetically drawn to the stage. I love watching these kids perform and I'm sure they are the kids who will make the final cut. There were also many examples of parents who were there merely as emotionally supportive taxi-drivers. Parents who got up before the crack of midnight and sat in line for hours on end so that their child, whom they knew had no singing ability, could attempt to become the next J-Lo. Now that is true dedication, the kind of love only a parent can give.
Unfortunately, it seemed like those parents were in the minority. Maybe this was creative editing on the part of the show's producers. Let's face it, without Simon throwing insults, there is doubt that many people will tune in to watch Juniors. As a ratings gimmick, the producers may want to emphasize all the obnoxious parents whose children will eventually send some therapist's kids to college. Having said that, the camera doesn't lie. There were rude parents, pushy parents, and parents who wished they could try out. Some parents actually sang in front of the camera while their kids spontaneously combusted from embarrassment. How many times did we hear some parent say, "I should be the one trying out"? These parents seem to have no regard for how their behavior might affect their kids.
The whole concept of the show is a bit scary for that very reason. Adults who should know better get swept into a frenzy over the possibility of early success for their kids. Reason flies out the window and some of these poor kids are stuck trying to live out their parents’ fantasies. The message that's being sent to the kids is that being a rich and famous performer is the only way to be successful in this world. And the message isn't coming from magazines, TV, or the internet; it's coming from their own parents.
So as not to be misconstrued, I am not telling you to avoid Juniors. I'll be watching the show cuddled up next to my daughter. There are some very driven kids out there who could use this opportunity to launch their careers. Just because I don't know what I want to be when I grow up doesn't mean these kids don't know either. Watching talented children with a desire to perform try to achieve that goal sounds like good TV to me. It's the other kids I'm worried about – the kids who are crushed because they didn't make the cut. Not to mention all the kids who are watching at home. It's these kids who need to hear the voice of reason from someone. They need to know that there are plenty of people in the world who are not Britney Spears and they live happy, productive lives. I know it's sounds crazy and I am getting old... but I know it's true. There's more to life that being a pop star and hopefully the kids who watch Juniors will hear that from their own parents.
Nicole is homeschooling mother of two who watches reality shows purely as an escape mechanism and writes to preserve her sanity. Feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org as it will be the only adult contact she has all day.
Be sure to sign up for our e-mail update so you can stay informed about new articles on the site! And take a look at the rest of the site. You can find all of our recent AI2 articles at the American Idol 2 page -- and don’t forget to check out The Foxes On Idol Website for more great coverage!
For more news about reality TV, be sure to check out SirLinksALot!
View Printable version of this article