Thursday, April 26, 2007

Conflicted

Last night I watched the Idols Give Back special. In a previous life I have watched way too much of American Idol, so what's two more hours? And this one is supposed to be about Africa, so that's good, right? And Bono will be on, right?

First - the negative.

The show was an interlacing of a usual cheesy elimination show, a concert and clips from charities around the world. Interesting mix.
- In the clips of children it seemed like the kids were coached when to start crying. I was suspicious the first time, but the little girl in LA seriously can't act.
- Also, I thought this was about Africa. Since when are LA, New Orleans and Kentucky in Africa?
- Since when is anywhere in the US considered "extreme poverty" on the level with some of the African conditions?
- Why did Ryan have to follow every clip of the horrors in Africa with a comment about half the money staying in America to help American kids? What's wrong with helping African kids?
- Watching Simon Cowell in an African hut telling the family that their "home" was unacceptable was pretty hard to take. I get that the conditions are deplorable, but it seemed uncomfortable to here a rich Brit say that to the family.
- What exactly are Simon, Ryan, Randy and Paula doing on these issues? When Ryan asked Simon that he quickly deflected the question.
- The Quincy Jones song was awful. In a "this is a horrible song" awful, and also in a "love isn't going to fix everything" awful.
- Having Exxon executives pretending to care about Africa turned my stomach.
- How can you cut from the clips of children in poverty to the AI elimination? It was way too jarring.
- Paula, showing us cleavage within millimeters of getting censored is not what I would consider "Idol gives back". Just sayin.

So, having said all that and having steeled myself for the cheesefest that is AI...
yes, I ended up crying. The brother and sister living in a single room because their parents were dead. The "family" of fourteen children (mostly AIDS orphans) living in a room. Carrie Underwood singing to those kids.

Yes, I went through lots of kleenex. Even I'm not cold enough to stay dry eyed during it.

And, I guess if all the AI watchers gained a greater understanding of the poverty issues in our country and the crisis in Africa, then the sacrifice of two hours of my life is worth is. Kudos to Ellen Degeneres for pledging $100,000 on air and challenging the rich friends she watches AI with to do the same. I hope lots of people are really bothered by the show (in the good way) and follow up by asking lots of questions. I know www.one.org was down most of the night because it's servers were swamped. I also hope those 6 finalists on the show were impacted and when one (or more) of them gets famous they remember what their fame and money can do.

$30 million is nothing to sneeze at. I hope the money makes it's way swiftly to buy malaria medication, nets, ARV medication and all the other things they promised last night.

As much as the cheesy stuff made me snicker and some of the "edge of tasteful" stuff made me wince, mostly the show made me want to go to Africa with suitcases of malaria medication and support those communities torn apart by AIDS however I can.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Sarah said...

Actually from the beginning, they have been touting the "Idol Gives Back" as helping both Africa & poverty in the USA. And yes, poverty in Africa is on a different scale, but if you have ever driven through the Navajo nation or been to eastern Kentucky, the level of poverty in some of these areas is pretty bad.

And I totally agree with you that it makes me want to pack all the malaria meds and mossi nets I can into my suitcase before heading to Africa.

8:38 PM  
Blogger Joy said...

I guess I was just reading the press releases the day before and mostly the stuff that had to do with Bono.

I'm not diminishing the poverty in the US. Believe me, I work with it every day. But they seemed almost apologetic for doing the Africa stuff.

10:44 PM  

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