In the crossfire prattle about American Idol, much of the focus has stagnated on the “suck” or “doesn’t suck” divide, a dead end debate that barely touches the surface of what has become a nationwide phenomena of democratically incubated pop stars. In the spirit of providing a lively context for our national pastimes, PopMatters writers expand, color, and add nuance to this conversation, broadening familiar threads and tackling Idol fever from wholly new and surprising angles.
Bill Gibron junkyard dogs the hell out of Idol, fiercely aligning the show with a long line of corporate experiments in suburban evil . Rob Horning takes a brilliantly political and meditative approach to the show, burrowing seriously into what Idol has to say about the defects of democratic utopianism. But others in the PopMatters crew serve as strident, intelligent champions for this pop culture underdog. Jodie Janella Horn mingles with rabid Idol fans standing on the fringes of the Idol red carpet and finds Idol to be a harmless balm for parents’ mid-life crises. Justin Cober-Lake flat out throws a parade for the show, albeit a smart assed one, berating the grumpy holier-than-thou elitists who can’t just sit back and take in some harmless entertainment. Finally, Terry Sawyer considers American Idol as a harmless revenge fantasy against those we perceive to be perfect. And we do hate those whom we think perfect, don’t we? While reading these essays hopefully you’ll laugh, you’ll get angry, and you’ll feel a sudden need to find a way to vote for PopMatters with your cell phone.