Thursday, May 27, 2004


Well, unless you're living under a rock, you know that Fantasia Barrino has won this year's incarnation of American Idol. I occasionally take some flak for my enjoyment of this show, and not undeservedly, since it is something of a monument to the mass-production of pop culture.

But as I noted a year ago, I like the show because alone of all these "Reality" shows, it is not cynical at heart, designed to force people into mean-spirited competition with one another. American Idol showcases talent, like it or not, and it also showcases the incredible amount of hard work required to make talent flower.

Put another way, I think that the winners of American Idol (and I consider a winner to be anyone who reaches the final two) have actually earned something, which is a claim I would never advance on behalf of a winner of Survivor or The Bachelor or whatever. I see winning American Idol as an accomplishment. Fantasia Barrino, Ruben Studdard and Kelly Clarkson (and yes, Clay Aiken) have accomplished something in a fundamental way that Richard Hatch never did.

Now, as for this year's specific result, I think it's just about perfect. It took me a while to warm up to Fantasia, since she chose a string of songs at the start of the season that I don't like. But week in and week out, I found her stage charisma infectious, and I grew to admire her voice a great deal. She always seened authentic to me, whereas runner-up Diana Degarmo always struck me as more of an emulator of more famed singers.

Anyway, yes, I like American Idol. And I'm not embarrassed to say so. So there.

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