It has the largest audience of any show on television yet American Idol is not without its critics, and none harsher than David Della Terza, creator of the website VoteForTheWorst.com. When American Idol is live, VFTW is on its case with biting essays and scorching exposes. Getting as many as four-million visitors a week when Idol is on the air, VFTW guides the voting efforts of those not sold on the American Idol vision. What does Dave hope to accomplish? How does he really feel about Idol. I started with the best question I could think of:
If you could describe American Idol in one word, what would it be?
Dave: Genius. If I could create a multi-billion dollar industry centered on a poorly produced television show, I’d do it too. And when people claim I’ve sold my soul, I’ll pay them piles of money to change their minds.
How did you feel about nabbing Taylor Hicks all grinning with the VFTW T-shirt?
When two posters on the VFTW message board (Bollox and Killer Bee) told me that they were going to meet Taylor and give him a VFTW shirt, I asked if they could try to get a picture of him with it. I wasn’t sure if he’d be allowed to do that, but I figured it’d be worth a shot. Not only did they get the picture, Taylor’s smiling and recruiting new Worsters for us. So the next day I went out and bought his album. I like that he gets us and has a sense of humor about the whole Idol thing.
What is the origin of your tagline “Are you in on the joke?” and what does it mean?
I created that tagline, and it’s basically us saying “American Idol is a big joke of a show… are you one the people who actually gets that?” The show is not a singing competition. It’s a reality TV show manufactured around drama and crying teenagers that brings in ratings and sells promotional materials. The people who spend extra money texting on their Cingular phones and buying Randy and Paula’s stupid voice coach DVD are obviously not in on the joke. Sure, those of us at the site watch the show and contribute to its ratings, but we love it for the hot mess it has become. You probably won’t catch me drinking bubbly water in a Coke cup (unless I get paid of course).
You seem to generally loathe all Idol contestants, have any of them grown on you over the years? Did you give Aiken’s Christmas cd a spin, perhaps?
We don’t loathe all of the contestants, we love certain people from the show. We love the Brenna Gethers, the Kevin Covaises… people who just entertain us and remember this is just a silly television show. I personally love Brenna, Kevin, Taylor, Scott Savol… just about everyone we’ve voted for. I hate Kellie Pickler though. She’s obnoxious. And as much as I love bad music, there’s absolutely no way I would subject my poor ears to Claiken’s Christmas music. Though just so I don’t get an inbox full of angry letters from idiot Claymates… Man, I love Clay Aiken’s album. It’s so… OK, I can’t do it.
Have you been able to get a feel for just how many votes VFTW generates?
There’s no way to know. We have a dedicated hardcore fanbase, but then we also have people who have never participated on the message board who throw in a few votes every week. I get letters from people who tell me that they’re forced to watch Idol every week because their tone deaf girlfriend, annoying brother, or someone else they are unfortunately stuck living with loves the show. So we help them get through it by mocking everyone and giving them a way to enjoy the show. At this point though, so many people who watch the show have heard of us, so I think we have a nice little backing. We don’t care so much that we succeed every week, we just like when we have our various victories throughout the season.
Has FOX ever puffed up to you, or do they just plead ignorance, like Simon?
Oh yeah, Fox’s lawyers have written to us on multiple occasions. During season 4 they told me to take down all of the video, audio, and pictures that we had on the site. That was reasonable since we don’t own them, but obviously they don’t enforce this policy on the “OMG I LUV KATHARINE MCPHEE” sites. During season 5, the same lawyer wrote to me and said they were preparing a lawsuit. I told them they had no grounds for a lawsuit and good luck trying to find a reason. They never did, shockingly enough.
Ever been contacted by a contestant?
I talk to Brenna Gethers and I got to interview her for the site. She’s a class act and she’s doing so well now with her new band, the Bomb Squad. She loves her VFTW fan base, and because of that, we all love her back and will support anything she does. She’s such a phenomenal talent and she was shafted by the show because they just wanted her to be one of the early casualties that doesn’t make the final rounds, so she played up her personality and just had fun with it. I’ve also talked to a handful of the people who auditioned and didn’t make it. They’re all usually pretty nice and feel slighted by the process, which in turn lets them see first hand why our site is such a great idea.
We mentioned your Kellie Pickler expose and it caused quite a stir. How confident are you the information was correct?
Pretty confident. I’ve probably taked to almost the entire population of Albemarle by now since they all seem to write to me. And most of them agree that the expose is pretty true. The ones who don’t agree usually can’t spell half the words in the English language anyway. I’ve also been told that Kellie saw the piece and was not happy with it, probably because it’s too accurate. Anyone who believes her Dolly Parton act is probably pretty dense. It’s not that she’s smart. If she was smart, her act would be more convincing. But she’s not very intelligent and playing herself up as even dumber, which is just a ridiculously entertaining combination of clashing facts. And it made her a great VFTW candidate. That and her awful singing.
What do you think the big mid-season surprise is going to be?
I think they’ll probably let some of the contestants from the season who have been kicked out compete to get back into the competition. It’d be a real ratings draw, and I’d welcome it since at least one really great VFTW pick would be gone by then.
Now that idol has announced this super-sized double premiere, what do you have in mind to match it for your own Season Six kick off?
Well, we have a brand new expose called “The Truth About American Idol Auditions” that will probably create a little bit of a stir. It goes into detail about how the Idol auditions are actually a week long and how trying out is a really random process. We’re also coming back with our second season of Are You the Worst Idol, our bad singing competition that will take place the same time as Idol’s final rounds. And we’re also starting VFTW for Charity. We’ll have more info up about that in February, but it’s our way of trying to give back since the site is so popular. So hopefully that’s enough to entertain everyone through another awful season of Idol!