‘American Idol’ postmortem
It’s time to bring out not the bubbly but the sour grapes. There, there. We all knew how it would turn out.
Consider the glaring fact that, for the past four years, all the winners of “American Idol” were what have come to be known as WGWGs.
White Guys With Guitars.
Still, we good-naturedly rolled our eyes as Filipino-Americans held text-voting parties in the United States. We tolerated our Manila-based kababayans’ attempts to make a difference by voting via Facebook, magicJack, netTALK and Vonage …
In the end, Jessica Sanchez, the first American of Filipino-Mexican heritage to make it to the top two, seemed to have as big a chance to win as Clay Aiken did in “The Apprentice.” (Actually, this could be an issue of fate. Aiken, who lost in the latest season of “The Apprentice” to Arsenio Hall, had lost to Ruben Studdard in the second season of “Idol.”)
Reality stings in US reality shows, it seems.
But are race and gender crucial factors in “Idol” as well? Although America already has an African-American president, it looks like it’s not ready for a brown-skinned Idol.
“I knew that would happen,” said Lea Salonga, Filipino Broadway and West End star. “America wasn’t ready for a gay Idol either.”
Four seasons back, standout Adam Lambert could’ve been the first openly gay Idol, but lost the crown to the much less stellar Kris Allen.
The last male person of color to win this competition was Ruben Studdard in Season 2; the last female (of whatever color) was Jordin Sparks in Season 6.
Since the duel of the two Davids (Cook and Archuleta) in Season 7, viewers have been treated to a parade of WGWG winners.
Many blame the show’s fan base – mainly housewives and teenyboppers. If there isn’t the required testosterone level in your genetic makeup, this powerful bloc will never ever vote for you. Sorry, Adam.
It doesn’t help that the audience of the reality show, once a cultural touchstone, is dwindling. According to initial online reports, the rating for this season’s finale was 32 percent lower than last year’s figure. Still, the finale posted the highest number of votes at 132.3 million –indicating that the show’s core followers remain as loyal and passionate as ever.
Vote for the Worst (VFTW), an anti-Idol website that encourages netizens to vote for the worst contestant every year, could claim victory because Phillips was its pick for Season 11. On the eve of the grand finale, VFTW came out with a cuttingly hilarious parody, “Top 5 Reasons to Vote for Phillip.”
Number 5 read: “You can put the Phillip back in the Philippines.”
It claimed that by voting for Phillip, netizens can help expand Filipinos’ tastes in music beyond “light, family-friendly pop ballads.”
Not! Phillips’ and Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery’s countrified styling hardly sounds like an improved playlist for our archipelago.
Admittedly, Jessica’s second-place finish – not her fault at all – was as frustrating as Chief Justice Renato Corona’s “walkout” from the Senate impeachment court. Nakakabitin!
Since humor seems to be our best quality as a people, we asked these local celebs to share quick quips to soften the blow.
Salonga asserted: “Voting has nothing to do with talent.”
Character actress Vangie Labalan agreed: “The winner is not always the best.”
Filmmaker Yam Laranas: “It just proved that magicJack has no magic and Jessica is not American.”
Comedian Jon Santos: “I am so sad that Jessica missed the top spot. I’ve already bought new gowns, wigs and stilettos – all set to play Jessica Santos!”
Comic John Lapus: “Jessica is still the winner in my book. If vocal acrobatics was what the judges wanted, Jessica could’ve performed the English version of Dulce’s ‘Ako ang Nagwagi, Ako ang Nasawi’ or ‘Eseng ng Tondo.’”
Jessica was fearless in the finale show, Lapus said, “even though Jennifer Holliday seemed determined to swallow her whole during their duet on ‘And I am Telling You (I’m Not Going).’”
Scriptwriter-director Jose Javier Reyes concurred: “After Jessica’s earthshaking, nerve-wracking duet with Broadway legend Jennifer Holliday … 132 million votes did not exactly indicate who the winner should be. Let America crown their Idol. Jessica Sanchez won the world!”
Internet sensation Mikey Bustos jested: “Phillip is American and Jessica is Idol.”
Comedienne Chariz Solomon suggested: “Since America seems to love men who play guitars, next year we should send Freddie Aguilar!” (But he’s not white!)
Comedian John Feir, a.k.a. Belli Flori: “Jessica was cheated. The votes for Phillip Phillips were counted twice. Na-doble!”
Filmmaker, fictionist and songwriter Khavn de la Cruz raised the issue of racism: “Fatboy Slim said it best: ‘You’ve come a long way, baby.’ But no, it isn’t only Jessica that’s come a long way. In many ways, so has the Filipino who, more than a century ago, was nothing more than an indigenous acquisition of the US, for cultured nations to ogle. At the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, more than 1,000 Filipinos were put on display in the human zoo. They were decked out in full Filipiniana.
“Some critics shouted foul over Jessica’s pre-assigned song. I say stop worrying about the bomb and be happy that an Asian even made it to the finale. Always be grateful that the powers-that-be no longer require their little brown brothers and sisters to wear Filipiniana for their gawkers. Once we were a museum oddity; we still are to this day. Thank you and praise you, America!”
Actress Tessie Tomas bristled: “Nakakatawa na hindi yata puwede manalo ang isang Latina like Jessica. Dahil ba ‘American Idol’ kailangan pure American? But Jessica is half-Latin American! Hindi ako natatawa, naiiyak ako. Nagbenta pa yata ng kalabaw ang ilang Pinoys sa USA para lang maka-vote for Jessica.”
Stand-up comic Willie Nepomuceno joked: “Sayang. Were it not for the confusion and divisiveness of the Pinoy overseas texters, we could have had the first ‘American Idol’ from Asia. A number of them thought Phillip Phillips was the Pinoy pride candidate and voted for him. Could any other name be more Philippine than that? Adding to the confusion was the usual clannish and partisan attitude of Pinoys made worse by the network wars. Of course, votes for Jessica Soho and Korina Sanchez were nullified! Seriously, only time will tell. Who knows? This whole thing may even boost local tourism … now that Americans know that it’s more fun with Phillip Phillips.”