Like most people, I am addicted to “American Idol.” And, like most people, I like to think I’m smarter than the rest of those idiots who watch “American Idol.” Unlike them, I have not watched every season of "American Idol," I do not vote on "American Idol," and, I am not obsessed with being on "American Idol." It’s because I can’t sing. I don’t even sing in the shower. Sometimes, when I’m alone in my 2001 Saturn SL, I crank up the factory installed FM radio and sing along with Rick Springfield doing “Jesse’s Girl.” I also like to sing along to the Talking Heads and Death Cab for Cutie, but in no way do I think this qualifies me to even stand in line to try out for "American Idol." I am not one of those non-singers who thinks that just because I agree with Simon, somehow I can sing. Nor am I one of those non-singers who tries out just so I can be on the humiliating worst-of outtakes and then claim, to anyone who will listen, “I was on ‘American Idol.’”
I would like to say that my ability to recognize my lack of talent in the singing department somehow makes me above it all, that unlike other Americans I don’t think I will somehow have my 15 seconds of fame, but it’s not true. My 15 seconds will come, eventually, when I receive a long-deserved literary prize for the novel I’m currently not-writing. Then all those people who didn’t get my artistic vision, who didn’t like the rhyming poems about penguins that I wrote in grade school, or the people who didn't get me in graduate school, who said things like "I don't like the main character. Why is she so angry?", all those people will be sorry, and will claim to have known me when, and when I’m walking around town in a long black evening gown and tiara, carrying my prize in my arms as if it were a newborn baby, I will snub them by turning away when they wave. Or perhaps I will condescend to give them a little smile that conveys, “Not now, little people, I’m busy.”
I know. I can’t claim to be smarter, or that I’m not prey to the little movie we all have in our heads, you know the one, the one where you look so amazing even you are a little in love with you, and the confetti falls from the rafters and everyone is clapping, and you see yourself with that “Who? Me?” look on your face, like you just can’t believe it, it’s finally happened, finally, everyone sees what a genius, what an amazing person you were all along, and finally you’re going to get an oversized check for a million dollars. The truth is, we all have that little movie in our heads. Maybe it’s part of human evolution. Where cave men would draw paintings of themselves killing a giant mammoth, we make movies in our heads where we finally get what we think we deserve. It keeps us alive. Maybe these narracisstic little movies help us get up in the morning, even if we never change out of our pajamas.
Maybe that’s why 52 million of us love American Idol. Because while we’re watching 24 singers compete for one title, we believe that our little success fantasies could come true. It’s the American Dream, small town nobody becomes big time superstar and starts dating Justin Timberlake and/or Brittney Spears. It could happen. Or at least we need to believe it can. And isn’t that why TV is so popular? We need to believe that someone’s life is better than ours. Or we need to believe that we are better, more talented, smarter than someone else. I know I am. I'm better than all those other idiots out there who are thinking the exact same thing.