Popular culture--and American Idol is nothing if not popular--is like that: it s a commodity: base, venal and without a soul. Carefully
contrived by Hollywood (or some related industry) to be hawked to the largest number of consumers, popular culture is all about maximizing
profits, not expanding refinement. It does not aspire to be art.
--Warren Kinsella, Nat Post, May 24 '07
It's good to see Warren Kinsella's keeping his knees in fine jerking trim. Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, Billie Holliday and Bessie Smith, John Ford and John Huston, the Goons and the Pythons, Fellini and Truffaut are all examples of pop culture, about none of whom it can coherently be said that they are base, venal or without a soul. It could be said of one or two of them that they didn't aspire to art, but of none that they didn't achieve it.
American Idol, sure, crappy show. But the nadir of human cultural history? If you're going to claim that, Warren, don't go referencing the Roman Coliseum. ("Why does American Idol attract so many, sometimes against their better judgment? Because, one suspects, the program permits its audience (as did, say, the Roman Coliseum) to be maudlin and cruel simultaneously.") That was pop culture with a vengeance, and until 5,000 American Idol contestants are divided into rival armies and ordered to fight to the death for the delectation to the masses, American Idol is still well above the nadir. Well below the ordinary human average, in sensitivity and intelligence, I'll give you that.
C 2007 Martin Heavisides