For domestic reasons, I’ve ended up watching more American Idol this season. The show is not very compelling, although it’s clear that some of the contestants are really talented. But the more I watch it, the more I’m convinced that the show — aired on Fox — is actually a subtle propaganda piece designed to reinforce News Corp/Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch’s vision for America.
The most obvious example is the nature and role of the “judges” on the show. It would be hard to imagine a cast of characters who would inspire more loathing in the heart of America: a black man, an (Arab?!) woman, and an effete Brit. Ladies and gentleman, I give you Nancy Pelosi’s America! They are the bad guys, the evil overlords who sneer and pass judgement on the singers from on high.
But here’s where it gets interesting. The judges, of course, have no actual power. As if in a Republican wet dream, they are unable to legislate from the bench, unable to overrule the rowdy populace. The judges have been neutered, which is exactly how Murdoch would like to see our judiciary.
Now comes news that, this season, the cash cow is in danger of being hijacked. Howard Stern and others are launching a campaign to destroy the show by encouraging people to vote for the worst candidate, in this case, local boy Sanjaya Malakar. This is a problem, since the whole point of American Idol is to generate a multi-platinum recording star who will make gobs of money on the back end for the show’s producers.
As President Bush has learned in Iraq and Palestine, unleashing democracy can be a messy thing. So, just the Bush Administration is backing some Shiite groups in Iraq in an effort to stem the violence and crank up the country’s oil output, don’t be surprised if Sanjaya suddenly bows out of the competition, claiming he wants to “spend more time with his family.” Because democracy is all well and good, but when there’s real money at stake, it’s all just bread, circuses, and karaoke.