I've decided that American Idol is a show you are best served by watching every other year. Two years in a row and you start to see all the obvious assembly-line production value of it...how it's designed to sell big advertising bucks, titillate the young masses, and pop out another sterilized "artist" who won't even get to record an album that is from their soul for years, if they ever break free of the machine.
I realized last night that I don't even like most of the music on the show. I have never bought an album of a single Idol winner. There's one Kelly Clarkson song I like; I've been saying I might check out Taylor Hicks' album because I really did think he was unique since last year; and I thought Fantasia was a different breed until I saw her streamlined, soulless MTV video in which she looked and sounded like any, and I mean any, hip-hop artist. I'll admit it--I'm watching purely for the drama and even that's starting to feel lackluster.
Not that the sponsors or the executives care--their pocketbooks will be as fat no matter if there are a handful of us who don't invest a dime or even cast a single vote.
On that note, I've been thinking about how ephemeral fame is. As someone who has aspirations to publish a novel it's been good for me to work in a bookstore again and be reminded of how quickly the average title passes out of public consciousness. About a month. If it got a mention in People, on Oprah or was written by someone famous, it has just a teensy bit longer shelf-life. The stuff that sticks around for a really long time is very rare.That means there's enormous pressure to make it big fast, to burst onto the scene with something wild and edgy, with some "high concept" hook that makes editors drool, because in this culture, that's all you've got unless you're an exception to the rule. (For perspective, do you realize that Britney Spears, whose career seems to already be in some kind of Elvis-in-his-fat-boozy-final-days-stage) is only 25 years old??).
Which brings me back to what the hell is the point of making art anyway? I'm reverting to the "for the fun of it" attitude again, bolstered by the "to make meaning" idea. I'm writing to entertain myself at the moment. If I succeed, maybe I'll entertain someone else. I'd be perfectly okay with being paid to entertain...no different than some cheesy singer in a Vegas casino. Even those guys make the occasional person cry, right?
But this grasping after fame and fortune in this culture of overnight success is not for me. I used to think I just wanted to publish a book. Now I realize how fleeting even that can be. I mean, the urge is still with me, and I doubt I'll stop trying, but I am getting more and more comfortable with the idea that I just write novels because I do. Because it's more satisfying to have the very first thing I do in the morning be to tell myself a story than anything else.