Friday, March 27, 2009

American Reject

How to make it through the audition process of American Idol:

1. Don’t beg the judges for “one more chance.” If they said no, they mean it.
2. Maintain one identity. If you're going the third-person route, refer to yourself by your given name and not as the reincarnation of Elvis.
3. Do not make a joke out of the competition. Being a recording artist should be your only reason to audition, not just the chance to be on TV.
4. And, if only to prevent your viewers from ripping their eyes out, never ever dress like this:


Nick Mitchell was just one contestant who auditioned for the 2009 season of AI by not following these rules. He went by the name of his "alter ego" Norman Gentle, begged to be chosen, tried his best to make the judges laugh, and was clearly channeling Richard Simmons when he chose his outfits. But while all other contestants who throw out the rulebook become a mockery in American pop culture and get sent home, Mitchell went straight to Hollywood by a vote of three to one. So what made him different?



(To comply with YouTube's new rules, this clip has a 15-second "introduction" that isn't part of the actual video.)

It was obvious Mitchell didn’t really think his name was Norman, and it’s fairly safe to say his actual closet probably doesn’t consist of tight shorts and flashy shirts. He made pretty clear that he was just a comedian and nowhere near being a serious contestant. But even that didn’t stop the judges from not only letting him go to Hollywood, but also voting him into the top 36 out of over 100,000 contestants.

Viewers, however, already drowning in a sea of juxtaposed and transubstantiated signifiers (see "Baudrillard" two posts back) were not as forgiving of a comedian being in a singing competition; the first night they got to vote, they sent him home.

Though opinions on his presence on AI varied, there’s no denying that Mitchell left an impact on the competition. He shattered the stereotypical norm of an “American Idol” and showed that all American pop acts don’t have to be from the same cookie cutter. And most importantly, he told America not to take the show so seriously.



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