Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sympathy for the Bush Baby

There was a lot of build-up about the Seattle American Idol auditions being the worst ever, and this 2-hour freak show lived up to the hype. The first misguided youth was Jennifer Chapton, who called herself “The Hotness” without a hint of irony and who responded to Simon’s criticism with ebonics-infused nonsensical retorts.

Of the Seattle wack pack, the standouts were Darwin “Mischa” Reedy and her mom, who conjured up images from Grey Gardens. It’s hard to say if the amply-endowed Mischa’s failure to wear a bra or her failure to sing in tune doomed her audition, but there was something strangely fascinating about this pair. I think they deserve their own reality show.

The show did cross the meanness line in its treatment of new BFFs Jonathan Jayne and Kenneth Briggs. The rotund, genial Jonathan seemed a little slow, and Kenneth had eyes that bugged out of his head. Simon told Kenneth he looked like a bush baby, which was really uncalled for. A news story about Kenneth's grandma's outrage over his treatment mentions that Kenneth has a disease called Aarskog Syndrome. It’s one thing to berate people for auditioning when they can’t carry a tune, or even for being overweight which is something they could theoretically control, but since when is mocking people for their birth defects acceptable behavior? Still, Kenneth and Jonathan may have the last laugh. they've already appeared on Jimmy Kimmel's show, and they’ll likely parlay their humiliation-based fame into a free trip to LA and appearance on the grand finale.

There were a few bright lights. Rudy Cardenas sang “Open Arms” capably. Brother and sister Shyamali and Sanjaya Malakar had a cute rivalry/camaraderie, and it will be fun to see how they progress during Hollywood week. Blake Lewis beat-boxed his way to a golden ticket, and fresh-faced, talented Jordin Sparks seemed to have the total package.

I think four hours of bad auditions this week was a bit much for all of us. It’s no wonder Rosie, Larry King and others raised the alarm flag. I guess I’d prefer a little more balance between the showcasing of the good and the bad, and a lot less of the ugly.