Tuesday, March 7

Spin (or, Boycott Kellie; Save Melissa!!)

I think most people know by now that there is a lot more than talent involved in choosing American Idol contestants. The Powers that Be ("TPTB") want people with whom the audience will connect, and take into account many factors - looks, talent, style, personality and backstory. What we are shown on TV, especially in the early rounds, is chosen/edited/presented in a manner to promote the contestants they want to promote. Unfortunately for the rest, a *lot* is left out....

This season much of the focus has been on Kellie Pickler, who is "boxed" as a major hard-luck story (mother left when she was small, father's in prison, raised by grandparents), not to mention naive and inexperienced. I'm seeing some 'gossip' around that implies she's not nearly as inexperienced or hard up as we're made to believe. But I'm also seeing actual news articles filling us in on some of the others. Melissa McGhee, for example, whose father and mother have both had multiple arrests and spent time in jail. It doesn't say if she had other family members (like Kellie's grandparents) who stepped in to help, just that Melissa is the oldest of 4 children, so I'm sure she carried a lot of the burden for taking care of the others during that time.

We have been seeing a little more of Bucky Covington the last couple of weeks - like Kellie (and Chris & Heather), he is from rural North Carolina, and is a bit overwhelmed by the California cuisine. What we haven't seen, however, is Bucky's twin Rocky, who also sings. Mind you we saw way too much of the Brittenum twins who aren't even in the viewer-influenced (I just can't bring myself to say viewer-controlled) part of the competition. And we saw Becky O'Donahue's twin. A lot. But nothing of Rocky, at least yet - he's attending the show this week so we'll see!

One more example is Gedeon McKinney. I don't have a link to the original source so I'll just post the excerpt here:

The American Idol Competition was to take place in Memphis, TN in Sept of 2005. It was cancelled due to Hurricane Katrina. Gedeon didn't have the finances to go to Chicago. His teacher suggested that he put on a concert and sell tickets.

Like gedeonfan said, he raised $700 to go to Chicago. His Father was still alive at the time.

Gedeon is the third oldest of seven children. His Father passed away suddenly on Dec 30, 2005 due to kidney disease. Supposedly when Gedeon sang at his Father's funeral, there wasn't a dry eye in the place.

Gedeon's Mom is now a widow. She has 4 other children younger than Gedeon, and was unable to leave them to go to Hollywood, so she sent her Mom, Gedeon's Grandmother. She's the cute one that wears the hat and gets up on her feet and claps at Gedeon's performances. It seems that we sometimes forget that Gedeon is 17, still in highschool and is required to be accompanied with a Parent or Guardian.

Gedeon almost didn't make it to Chicago. If you watch his "Shout" clip, you'll see Ryan getting Gedeon's Mom ready for the good news. Gedeon comes out with the yellow ticket in his hand, and the joy the McKinney's felt is evident for anyone to see.

After the funeral, Gedeon left his Mom and hasn't seen her since Jan. He is mourning the loss of his Father, without the comfort of his Mother. And Yes, because of his Faith, he's still able to Smile.

That is why it was very unfortunate that Simon made the remark he did regarding Gedeon's smile. But I guess it comes with the territory in the Reality TV world. You have to have very thick skin.

Just wanted to provide a little background on what Gedeon has been through the past few weeeks while pursuing he and HIS FATHER's dream for Gedeon.

Now, I'm not saying that backstory should necessarily influence voting (for those few that do vote). But, if it is going to influence your opinion of one or two contestants, then you should also take into account the backstories of the rest. (Or at least remember that we aren't being shown the whole package - about anyone.) TPTB don't want to give you that option; I do.


Thatchermom said...

Thanks for posting this. I read that story about Gedeon somewhere else, but I hadn't heard about Melissa. I didn't watch the pre-shows this year, but I can tell Kellie is TPTB's favorite. Did they feature Elliott at all in the pre-shows? He sounds like a true hard-luck story too, but he's not cute so I imagine TPTB ignored him.

There's such a conflict between the Simon's and Clive's who are looking for a good recording artist, and the Nigel's who are trying to make good tv. They often are not one in the same. Unfortunately, really good singers get left behind in favor of a good story, which is a shame. But it is odd how they decide to feature one person's sad story but not another's. It is neat that this show came about in the internet age, so you can aren't subject to getting only the info the producers want you to get, but you can find out stuff for yourself.

I should probably be writing all this on my own blog instead of clogging up your comments!!

J.D. said...

Excellent post. You're absolutely right about Gedeon. He's from my town, and his story is well known here. I was crushed when the A.I. auditions were moved from Memphis, which is really wretched when you think that since Memphis auditions were moved to Greensboro that THAT'S why we now have Kellie Pickler in the competition. She wouldn't have made it to the auditions if not for the disaster relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina here in Memphis.

Thanks for stopping by my blog, and I'll be posting a link to you on my blogroll.