“American Idol” highlights fights, not talent
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 20:02
“It’s more about the judges, it’s not about the people singing,” sophomore Lisa Keiffer says. “It’s really unfair to the people on the show, this is how they launch their career.”
Three new celebrity judges were introduced on the twelfth season of “American Idol,” but the focus put on the feud between two of them is already causing mixed reviews.
Before the premiere on Jan. 16, reports surfaced that two of the new judges, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, had numerous disputes during the show’s auditions. In an interview with Barbara Walters, Carey claimed that Minaj threatened her during the North Carolina auditions, which caused her to hire a larger security staff. Minaj responded to these claims on her Twitter account, stating, “Let’s just say nicki said smthn about a gun. Ppl will believe it cuz she’s a black rapper. Lmao. I’ll then hit up Barbara n milk it.”
So far, the show has featured numerous bickering moments between Carey and Minaj, including debates on the name of a “Mean Girls” character, name-calling, eye rolling and arguments over contestants talents. The attention given to the stars’ quarrels is being assessed by some TV-watchers as a distraction from the show’s purpose, the singing competition.
Freshman Melissa Hollander, a singer, says she began watching the show for the singing competition, not the celebrity judges. She says the show has strayed from its original purpose, which was to give aspiring singers the opportunity to acquire fame.
“It was first and foremost supposed to be about good talent, taking good singers and making them famous,” Hollander says. “It’s a bit unnecessary to just show the judges bickering all the time. They are just trying to make it into a typical reality show because that’s the fad right now.”
Sophomore Craig Chatterton says that the show should give more attention to the contestants, but that it has always given the judges’ more airtime.
“They have always had this focus on the judges’ antics,” Chatterton says. “They used to always show Simon’s conflicts with people.”
While some students express concerns that the disagreements between the judges are taking away the attention from the contestants; it is also being assessed as a ploy for more ratings, although the season premiere’s ratings decreased by 19 percent from season 11.
Matthew Donahue, a professor in the department of popular culture at Bowling Green State University, says this season seems to be different from previous years, with the judges’ feuds taking over the limelight. He notes that producers could be using this to inspire viewers to tune in and see the arguments for themselves.
“It really is something new,” Donahue says. “I’ve watched American idol every season, so this particular season is interesting because there is such a focus in on the judges and their feud, which again is basically a way to drum up interest in the show.”
Donahue says he believes that there has always been viewer interest in the judges, and that this is just one of several ways to bring in viewers. “American Idol” also feature people who cannot sing during auditions, which is demeaning, he says.
Nicholas Conway, a professor at University at Albany, says he is unsure if the feud between Carey and Minaj is real. The two artists collaborated on a song titled “Up Out My Face” in 2010.
“My instinct is that there was some sort of spat, but the media and the show itself chose to run with it and blow it out of proportion,” Conway says. “The media does it as sensational journalism.”
Janell Hobson, a Women’s Studies professor at the University at Albany, has studied “American Idol” and written about it in her book, “Body as Evidence: Mediating Race, Globalizing Gender.” She says the fights could simply be dramatized for the reality television aspect of the show, and also says that it feeds into stereotypes.
“When you think about how women are represented in reality television, whether it is mob wives, basketball wives, or other reality television shows, cat fights have been a staple of trashy reality shows,” Hobson says. “The show [American Idol] may have looked at it as a way to get some attention.”
Hobson says despite the possible capitalization of their cat-fights, she still believes audiences tune in to watch the contestants.
Conway, who teaches a course on hip-hop music in culture, says although the stars may be receiving criticism for their feud, it may be beneficial for their music careers.