1. I sometimes take things personally.
I just wrote 800 words explaining that statement, exposing myself in a brutal and personal fashion. Then I felt embarrassed and deleted it. » Read the rest of this entry «
Sheenagh Pugh on criteria for poetry anthologies
To reprise the quote from Mallarmé in an earlier post: poetry is not made of ideas, it is made of words. An anthology is supposed to collect together poems that have some intrinsic similarity, and in my view such a likeness, to be at all meaningful, can be based only on one of two things: » Read the rest of this entry «
There are several ways in which one can rationalise/apologise for/render socially acceptable one’s watching (and by “watching” I mean “following religiously”) of a show like American Idol. Like:
- “I’m a masochist. I love the really bad singers.” (This does not explain why you keep watching when only the sort of bad ones are left on stage, and one or two good ones.)
- “I’m a geek at heart.” (Weak.)
- “I only watch it for Simon.” (Just a thought: doesn’t he look a bit like Johnny Bravo but with dark hair?)
- “I need a break from work/my studies. I need a break from using my brain.”*
- “I’m a pop culture scientist.” (This, of course, explains everything.)
I say, we should stop finding excuses. I watch American Idol religiously. Have been ever since it came to India, which was in Season 3 when Fantasia Barrino won. (Remember her? She’s all weird now, isn’t she?)
I don’t watch it just for the bad singers.
I’m still iffy about the word geek when applied to me**.
I don’t watch the show only for Simon, even though I pride myself on knowing exactly what he’s going to say after each performance. (Also, it always surprises me that he is so pink. I don’t know why I thought Brits were pasty. I live in all these strange universes.)
American Idol is not a break from using my brain. I mean, you need to be astute if you are to notice the subtle differences in each of the suits Ryan Seacrest wears. And you have to do all this processing while the contestants sing: what is Simon going to say? Are Paula’s boobs going to fall out while she leans forward to blow kisses to Danny Gecko (I steal the monicker from my cousin)? Who’s going to get kicked out? And you will not believe the amount of facial control it takes to parody Kara DioGuardi.
I am not a pop culture scientist, enviable as that would make me.
I’m tired of making excuses for all the supposedly crap TV I watch. I’m not afraid of AI making my brain deteriorate. Frequent assessments of poetry readerships, for example, find that our present-day TV and internet culture lead to a deadening of cognitive faculties, a curiously reduced ability to appreciate the more difficult end of the spectrum of cultural products available to us. I’d like to be exempt from this hypothesis, if only because I experiment with the “difficult” stuff, i.e. poetry.
Overall I don’t think it’s whether or not you watch TV that decides your cultural backwardness, but what else you watch/read. That said, AI is not some sort of compensation for reading poetry or whatever. It’s all fun to me. I hate the idea that watching a Rohmer film or reading a poem is less fun that watching AI. Boo to anyone who thinks it is.
Also, as I was telling someone recently at on online forum, my IQ has dropped since I abandoned science and my lukewarm dreams of becoming a doctor/architect, but I don’t feel stupid. I feel stupid, occasionally, sure, but not in general. But I feel far brighter than I was three or four years ago. In other words, I’m OK with needing a calculator for everything, so give me back my remote.
Back to AI. I’ve been thinking, the show seems to exist in a vacuum for me. As soon as the season gets over, I forget about the winner unless his/her music is forced on me via VH1 or the radio. (Yes, I know I can change the channel/station.)
The contestants seem to be interesting only as long as they sing songs written for/by other people, songs far superior to anything on their albums. Even the popular Idols have terrible songs, by my standards, and my standards are pretty low.
Season 1, Kelly Clarkson: I think she had one marginally interesting pop song on her first album. Now she makes all these shouty songs. She can sing-shout pretty, but “life would suck without you”? Really?
Season 2, Ruben Studdard: I recognise him. I don’t recognise his music. Zero recall.
Season 3, Fantasia Barrino: Same as above.
Season 4, Carrie Underwood: OK, she’s an exception. While I don’t care much for country music, I am familiar with it, thanks to my dad being a country fan. I’d say she has a few good songs.
Season 5, Taylor Hicks: This guy is a joke. Did he even make an album? Because it didn’t come here, I don’t think.
Season 6, Jordin Sparks: I keep forgetting who she is. Strangely, she’s very popular.
Season 7, David Cook: I had hopes for him. Such hopes.
I suppose it’s up to Adam Lambert to win Season 8 and wow us all. I am rooting for him; he’s the only interesting one this time round, other than the tiny blonde girl who looked like Dolly Parton. Sadly, Allison got voted out just as I had begun to like her. The things a new stylist can do to personality and performance.
Am I stupid to hope that Lambert, whether he wins or not, will make an album worth listening to? What’s guiding my hope (that sounds so religious) is the fact that not only is he different from every other AI contestant, he’s pretty damn unique on his own. (Unlike David Cook who got swallowed into some pre-existent pretend-rock category.)
Adam’s also kinda sexy, unlike all other AI winners. See below for proof.
*This is the most dubious excuse of all. When someone admits to needing a break from using her brain, I’m tempted to consider that she has no brain at all. Or let me be kind, a very small brain that gets overworked easily and is most pleasant when comatose. People like this exist, you know. I have been told by the same person that (a) she engages in so much discussion on politics, books, writers, “issues” at work/college that when she comes home she wants to read only chick lit (b) she only likes literature when it’s taught to her (c) Madhur Bhandarkar films are worth watching. I think (b) and (c) explain the absurdity of (a), don’t you?
Man, if I could say more such honest things about specific anonymous people who will never read this blog, I’d be a much happier person.
**Here is my somewhat politically incorrect meditation on the word ‘geek’ that I posted as a note on FB:
It is common knowledge among my friends that I hate the word ‘geek’. Specifically, I hate being called a geek because I read a lot. Even more specifically, I hate being singled out as a geek.
Lately, however, I’ve begun to think that maybe ‘geek’ has some positive connotations, or that it has been reclaimed by those designated as geeks as a chosen, not enforced, identity. Sort of like ‘queer’. Once upon a time it was an insult, and now it offers an umbrella to all sorts of people that aren’t painfully straight. (Sadly, I think I am one of those painfully straight people. I wish someone would call me queer, so I could feel offended for a half second and then be all, “Yes, I’m queer dammit!” and feel empowered.)
How late am I in recognising that ‘geek’ may not be an insult after all, I wonder. I blame the sonics of ‘geek’ and the way it makes me think of ‘gunk’, ‘goo’ (and consequently ‘pus’) and ‘gekko’.
A footnote to my footnote: It was pointed out to me that I may not actually be painfully straight. This pleases me.