I’ll confess – I occasionally watch American Idol. I will also confess that I kind of like it.
Last night I watched most of the American Idol special – “Idol Gives Back”. This was a two hour special that mixed the faux reality of “voting singers off the show” with actual reality showing stories of real people living in real poverty around the world. The stories of mothers, fathers and children in places like Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya were very real. I was surprised at the graphic images that they did show. They did not spare the viewers from this actual reality of life and death for so many people. I give the show credit for this honesty.
One of the stories was of a needless death of a mother by malaria. I thought of the children that I saw in Malawi who had permanent disabilities due to this same cerebral malaria. One boy was five years old and could not hold his own head up. A simple net – costing around $5 would have prevented these tragedies. Of course, the problem is not only the cost of the net but also access to the nets in the rural villages.
I found it kind of disconcerting to have these two realities juxtaposed so starkly against each other. A story of a five year old girl struggling with AID’s in Ethiopia was transformed seamlessly, with dramatic music and dimmed lights and tension, to the question of “who is in the bottom three”.
Did anyone else feel a bit of an emotional whiplash?
The bottom line for me though is that I am glad that American Idol does give back. I was glad that the glamour of the show – couched in this faux reality and drama – showed real people, real drama, and real reality. For at least two hours the massive viewing audience of this show were exposed to the harsh world of poverty and introduced to the real hero’s in this drama – women, men, and children making it through another day.
It is too bad that the situation was not reversed – a weekly show on the real global and daily drama of poverty and a two hour special on the faux drama once in the season! I don’t think that those real hero’s in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda cared who was voted off the show last night.