American Idol

Episode Report Card
Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
Simon Says

It all started in Chicago, where we learned what it takes to be a paint salesman and a diabetic mom. Douchecentric shots of the both of them make magic hands at the camera in a blurry sped-up Times Square naked-Alanis kind of world, and it's time! It's finally time!

You know, everybody always says it's the worst year ever. Every single year, worst year ever. And round about this time in the season, I've gone through that dark scary tunnel of resentment and come out the other side. But this year? Meh. Taylor Hicks and Jordin Sparks are in the audience, reminding me how exhausting this show always is, but still. I don't think it's just bitching nerds and I don't think it's the fifty-some hours of the season. I think this season just really is lame.

And I was thinking about it today before the finale, like, is that true and if so why, and I think it has to do with authenticity. Great word. Central word. What that word means to me is that you go through life to a certain age and then realize that it's just easier to be honest. Whether that's good things or bad things, you're better off just looking at the truth about yourself and realizing that there's nothing really to hide behind and not really a great reason to even try.

And if you feel like bending the truth or refusing to acknowledge the tiny cruddy things you do throughout the day, you can think on this word authenticity and remember that there's not really a great reason to stay hidden. Even if you're just admitting to yourself that you're angry or being selfish or could have done something better, that is to our mutual benefit to get over yourself. Hopefully you can train yourself to hold up every thought and action against the question -- is this me being authentic or is this propaganda -- and automatically be more honest.

But what we mean here, when we talk about authenticity, is not the same thing at all. To be authentic on this show is to give a strong illusion of honesty, a sort of see-through vulnerability or trustworthiness. Kara talks about it all the time, they all talk about "connecting" to the song and this sort of thing, but it's queasy because basically what they're being asked to do is give the illusion of having no illusions.

You can do this by eating and fully digesting the spectacle, which is how Adam accomplished it. You can do this by skating on the surface so well that the outside and the inside, the form and function, are basically the same: That's Ryan. But the kind that appeals to me is the kind that Simon is about, which is generally about taking whatever thing you think you're selling and automatically pick it up and look underneath it, at the worms and the weirdness it's covering up.

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American Idol




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