Today I’m posting a couple of unrelated musings for my column.
American/Canadian Idol, et al
I will admit, I’m not a die-hard fan of the talent-search genre of shows, but I do enjoy them once in a while. I especially enjoy the "audition" shows, where contestants have a burning desire but precious little talent to display to the judges. Still, it always surprises me when the tone-deaf non-singers are devastated after being rejected.
Don’t these folks have friends or family that can be honest with them? It’s one thing to have a dream, but no amount of ambition can make up for a lack of ability.
One young woman started her audition by declaring that she was tone-deaf and could not sing! She claimed she wanted to be the first non-singer to win American Idol. She didn’t take rejection well, falling to her knees and begging the panel for a chance to fulfil her dream.
I watched a talk show recently where someone put forward the hypothesis that people like these — and in fact, many of today’s young people — have as their goal in life "to become famous." Period. Not for anything in particular, just "famous." Hence the popularity of YouTube.
They see these "Idol" shows as being their ticket to fame and fortune. Unfortunately, the only real ticket to fame and fortune lies in hard work, and even then there are no guarantees.
Many of the so-called "overnight successes" had actually been paying their dues working in clubs and bars, playing shopping-malls and weddings and other low-key gigs for years before getting their big break and a recording deal. Even then, just as many were "one-hit wonders" who had one or two songs make the charts, only to fall back into obscurity.
Out of the hundreds of thousands who audition for the Idol shows, only one will win. In another recent episode, one young woman who was rejected said "They’ve sent a lot of really good singers home. I don’t know what they’re looking for."
Randy had already told her what they were looking for: the very best singer. "Really good" just isn’t good enough.
Recently on Canada am I watched an interview with some "expert" (I didn’t catch his name) who made the following statement: "There has never been a time in the history of our species where we had to expend any unnecessary effort." He went on to state that, in his opinion, we are "genetically programmed to be couch potatoes."
I must admit, my first reaction was one of incredulous disbelief. Upon reflection, however, I will grant that there is some truth in his first statement; as a species we don’t expend any unnecessary effort. But throughout the history of our species, until very recently, we have been mainly hunter-gatherers. We have had to expend effort — sometimes a great deal of effort — to survive.
What has changed is the amount of effort that is required. Instead of tracking down and killing our dinner, we can simply head to the grocery store, or to a restaurant, or — expending the least effort — have dinner delivered to our door.
In this respect, it’s no wonder children and adults alike are steadily gaining weight. But isn’t this really all about choice and responsibility?
Yes, some families are very busy, with parents working long hours, and hustling kids off to music lessons, sports leagues, and other activities. Sometimes this means more fast-food meals than might otherwise be considered part of a healthy diet.
I’ve also heard concerns expressed that the amount of PhysEd being provided in schools has dropped, and this is contributing to the problem. Undoubtedly this is so, but it is only one factor in an otherwise bigger problem.
When I was a kid (I know — I hated hearing that, too), kids were active. Not just during PhysEd, but all the time. After school we played baseball or football or hockey, or rode our bikes, or played in the parks. And if we weren’t riding our bikes, we walked. Asking our parents for a ride just wasn’t something we did.
As for adults, look how many are driving to the convenience store, or driving their kids to school, or driving everywhere. Why aren’t they walking more?
So, as for the "expert’s" second contention, that we are "genetically programmed to be couch potatoes," I say that’s complete nonsense. Being a couch potato is a choice.