American Idol didn't just jump the shark last night. It transformed itself into a nauseating celebration of corporate sponsorship and celebrity self-indulgence that was breathtaking to behold.
Though AIDS in Africa and hunger in America are serious issues that deserve the public's attention and charitable donations, I had trouble taking "Idol Gives Back" seriously. Then again, my cynicism kicks into high gear whenever I see a gaggle of celebrities trying hard to convince me that I should care about something. Actors and corporations have a right under the first amendment to express their political views, but I have just as much of a right to ignore them.
"Idol Gives Back" was all about the close bonds between Hollywood and Wall Street.
American Idol makes big money from the advertising that's integrated into its show such as the glasses on the judges' table that have the Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) logo on them and those idiotic Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) commercials featuring the contestants doing renditions of pop hits that have as much musicality as a high school rendition of "Grease."
As an Idol viewer, I can live with all of that stuff. Heck, I even put up with the hapless Sanjaya Malakar, who was in the audience last night.
But host Ryan Seacrest took America's top-rated program into new territory last night with his prodigious thanking of all of the sponsors, including Fox's parent News Corp. (NYSE: NWS) and ExxonMobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM). He made these multi-billion corporations sound almost saintly at times.
In case you were wondering what comedy writers are doing in Hollywood now that fewer sitcoms are being produced, now you have your answer.
But I would have put up with all of that too if American Idol lived up to its promise and told the audience which wannabe pop star was being sent home. Unfortunately, the show's producers decided that it would be too much of a downer for the audience who watched a two hours' worth of videos of death and despair.
I know that two Idols are going to get sacked next week, but I don't know if I'll be watching. There's only so much heartache that a TV viewer can take. Besides, it's baseball season. If I have a choice between being played and watching people play, I'll take the latter.