Simon says talent first, then fame

Once upon a time, the point of television was to allow the average person to escape the rigor and humdrum of everyday life. The tides have turned, however, and in today’s voyeuristic society, it seems that I cannot turn on the television without finding some type of reality show.

It is possible that Americans enjoy watching ordinary people perform extraordinary tasks in the vein of Survivor or Fear Factor. However, with the immense success of talent shows such as Star Search and American Idol, as well as off-the-wall concepts such as Are You Hot? and Bridezillas, it has become apparent that an epidemic of sorts is sweeping over America. For some inexplicable reason, everyone wants to be famous.

As the second season of American Idol began a few weeks ago with well over 50,000 hopefuls, viewers were treated to a bevy of characters. There was the guy who truly believed he was Enrique Iglesias, the twins who believed they were God’s gift to the music industry and the “Like A Virgin” whiner, who judge Simon Cowell dubbed “the worst singer in the world.”

Just for the record, if your singing voice sounds like a cross between a dying frog, an old car engine and a deflating balloon, it is highly probable that you should consider an alternative career path.

With such a huge turnout of hopefuls at the auditions, one would expect a large expanse of talent, ranging from the exceptionally gifted to the exceptionally tone deaf. However, in the case of American Idol 2, the latter was much more prevalent, as the majority of “singers” were not worthy of singing in the shower, let alone performing on national television or, God help us, getting a record deal.

In considering the horrendous performances that actually did make it to television, we can only wonder how many cringe-worthy moments remain on the cutting room. Behind each of these television snippets is a real person who truly believes that he or she has the ability to become a superstar.

While the goal of American Idol is to create a singing sensation, there are other shows that intend to make ordinary people into models, comedians, actors or even “perfect” spouses. Disregarding the desired outcome, there is one thing that unites the contestants of each of these shows, and that is their inane desire to become famous, even if their fame only lasts for that fleeting 15 minutes.

Granted, there are some perks of fame that make it an enticing goal. Endorsements, free stuff, media exposure, special privileges and of course, money, are all attractive benefits. It’s understandable how, for a fleeting moment, the average person would dream of that kind of lifestyle. However, a problem arises when people believe that they should be famous, just for being alive. On American Idol 2, the majority of the people shown auditioning had absolutely no talent, but believed that they deserved to be famous. Not everyone in the world is cut out for a life of fame and fortune, but an overwhelming number of people believe that stardom is indebted to them.

It’s a sad reality, but when it comes down to it, very few people in this word will actually achieve celebrity status. America is undergoing a fame epidemic, with vast numbers of people believing they deserve to be famous for absolutely no apparent reason.

If you have talent, then by all means, go for it. However, if you deserve to be famous for just being born, then it’s probably in your best interest, not to mention the rest of the world’s, for you to consider a more humble profession.