American Idol: The bitterness of former contestants
Fame is a funny thing.  Once you get a taste, you only want more.  The issue of “fame” as an attainable entity in our society has been complicated in recent years by reality TV.  Whereas once fame had to come from real talent, talent that was first recognized by people who recognize talent for a living, fame can now be found by most anyone willing to submit themselves to the rigors of reality television.  These people can become famous without demonstrating any sort of sustainable quality taimed to entertain the masses.  You can act like yourself (or a parody of yourself) on a popular show and, voila!, people recognize you on the street. 

The problem is, of course, that once your alloted time has passed, and you're no longer on TV once a week, that fame disappears as quickly as it arrived.  With American Idol, it is admittedly a little more complicated than the type of fame garnered from Survivor or Big Brother.  Idol contestants supposedly have the talent to become stars once they're off the show.  That's the whole premise of American Idol.  Unfortunately, this fact creates delusional former contestants, many of whom are convinced that pop stardom awaits them, that the American Idol pie is big enough for them to slice off a significant piece. 

This couldn't be less true.

American Idol has, obviously, given us a handful of supremely talented individuals who have and will continue to lead fruitful careers outside of Idol.  Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Chris Daughtry have established themselves as legitimate stars.  There's a fairly good chance Kat McPhee will find success outside of Idol.  That's only four out of the hundreds who America have come to know over the show's first five seasons.  The plain truth is this:

If you don't write a majority of your own songs and want to be a star, you better be damn attractive AND be an incredible singer.  Otherwise, stardom isn't going to find you.  Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, and Kat McPhee are all great singers who happen to be attractive.  Chris Daughtry is good-looking dude, is a great singer, and fronts a rock band.  Do you realistically see any of the current, season 6 Idol contestants achieving the fame of those four?  Even coming close?

But, that's not what we're talking about.  Former Idol contestants have been coming out of the woodwork recently to do some serious Idol bashing.  Paris Bennett recently claimed to have been voting for Sanjaya all along and she cites VoteForTheWorst as her reason.  Interesting, biting the hand that hurled you into the limelight just one year ago.  But, if you look deeper, this was a calculated comment; Paris has an album coming out this month. 

Season 2 contestant Olivia Mojica will have a sex tape released sometime in the near future, which is the last resort for any marginally attractive person trying to regain any semblance of fame.  It may work, but it probably won't.

I find it interesting when former Idols bash the show (it happens a lot).  They like to claim that Idol is disingenuous, that it's rigged, etc.  But, wasn't it American Idol that gave them an opportunity?  None of these former, unsuccessful Idols would be anywhere without the show that they outwardly scorn.  Of course, as is the case with Paris, it becomes an automatic news story when they utter a disparaging word towards American Idol, so why not?  If you can receive much-needed publicity for talking smack about a show you're already bitter towards, then it's a slam dunk.

The notion that these former Idols are inherently deserving of fame, just because they made it to the finals of a reality television show, really sticks in my craw.  You can get by in the music industry without writing your own songs if you are hot.  Otherwise, you need to make great music.  There are hundreds of legitimately great singers out there who will never be famous.  Being on American Idol doesn't make you better than them. 

The music industry is a fickle business, a near impossible nut to crack for a young singer.  American Idol has made these young singers believe that this is not the case and that a stint on this country's most popular television show is all you need to catapult yourself to superstardom.  When this reveals itself to be untrue, they need someone to blame.  And, since you can never blame yourself, American Idol is, really, the only target.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer

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