Saturday, March 6, 2010

Getting Simon-ized

I am a fan of American Idol. My favorite thing about it is watching undiscovered talent get discovered - like Chris Daughtry, who worked as a service manager at a car dealership when he auditioned and is now a major recording artist. He didn't even win the title, but his being a contender was enough exposure to take him where he wanted to go.

The successful contestants give hope to all the great singers (or better-than-average singers with a great look) who are out there doing their day jobs and plugging away at their art on the side. But, my heart always pains a bit for the contestants who do not have a successful experience on Idol and have to deal with having their talent (or lack thereof) being critiqued in front of millions of people.

As is widely known, judge Simon Cowell is the most brutally honest judge on the panel, often crossing the line between constructive criticism and just plain meanness. Here are a few of his nastier comments:

"Did you really believe you could become the American Idol? Well, then, you're deaf."

"You have the personality of a handle.”

"You came across as a background singer for a background singer."

"I’m tempted to ask if you sang that the night before your wife left you."

You get the idea. Aside from the meanness, I have to say he is the judge my opinion is most often aligned with.

As I watched an episode this week, I imagined how I would handle it if I were on an Idol type show that was judging my writing. Would I be one of the contestants who argues with the judges and rejects the criticism? Would I politely rebut the criticism with the assertion that I do have what it takes? Or, would I accept whatever is said and promise to do better next week?

I've noticed that the contestants who argue with the judges (yeah, I'm talking about you, Jermaine Sellers) almost always get voted off the following week. Knowing my personality, I'd probably be in the accept the criticism and try to do better category, but I would hope if the criticism was really unfair I would have the guts to respectfully defend myself.

Luckily for us writers, I don't think there will ever be a TV contest show based around writing - Great American Novelist Search, or similar. Although I know the rejection letters will be a bummer, I'd rather get a quiet letter telling me I suck than have to hear it in front of millions of people while they watch me squirm.


  1. I hope that I would quietly take criticism and try to improve my efforts.

    When it comes to confrontation I never have courage. Neither the courage to quietly defend myself or the courage to walk away.

    In general I just mess it up. There are some people who can totally deal with confrontation so smooth. I am not one of them.

    Great post. Thanks Linda.

  2. I'm pretty sure that I'd be on the argue with the judges and get voted off cycle but I'd keep coming back and after the show I'd most likely do an interview where I tell the world that in the end the judges had a good point.

    Such is my experience. I am however working on respectful acceptance process.

  3. I'm not an idol fan but mostly because I'm not much of a TV fan. ;) However, if there was an Idol for Writers, I would never get on that show. The camera adds 10 lbs and I can't afford even one more. =P

  4. A line from a song comes to mind. "I've got dragons of my own."

    Yeah, I'm with you, Linda. I'd rather squirm in the confines of my own home than in front of millions of people. I can't even handle watching OTHER people squirm...but, anyway, I don't know if it's wise to say anything incriminating about my own critiquing tendencies.

  5. I disagree . . . I think there are thousands of people who would take to the air-ways in a heart beat, given the chance, to showcase their writing talent. I think it's a risk worth taking if you want it bad enough. The issue is watchability--as it would take a genius to create a platform entertaining enough to make it work.

  6. I would try and master a great listen and respond technique where I appear to be taking the judges criticism to heart while making the world realize I'm right...

    And I'd be voted off in the first show :)