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The solemn, the dignified, the high-profile marketing.
September 5, 2002 4:11 PM   Subscribe

The solemn, the dignified, the high-profile marketing. On September 11th, the national anthem will be sung on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. By the recent winner of Fox's American Idol. Days before the release of her new album. Two weeks before the winner's next, though obviously equally significant, "American Idol in Las Vegas" show. You will also note that this was reported before last night's finale. Meaning, this important symbolic event was arranged without even knowing who the winner was. In other words, Kelly Clarkson is not signing the National Anthem on September 11. "The Winner of Fox's American Idol" is.
posted by XQUZYPHYR (36 comments total)

 
I figure some will hate posts on American Idol, some will hate posts about the ever-growing coverage of 9/11. So either the two can combine and make a tolerable post or this will be deleted twice as fast. Apologizes if it turns out to be the latter, it was a risk I was willing to take since I think this is a perfect example of why all televisions should be burned. Or something like that.

I await all your rage be it for me or the subject. Come on, don't be niggardly. Sorry, I had to.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:13 PM on September 5, 2002


I guess that answers this question. The Onion just can't keep up with reality anymore.
posted by homunculus at 4:23 PM on September 5, 2002


I await all your rage be it for me or the subject. Come on, don't be niggardly. Sorry, I had to.


Look, I like your input; but you're just beggin' for it here. Isn't that kinda pathetic?
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:24 PM on September 5, 2002


Dude. Joke. I obviously do not really want this to be a thread about my or what people think of me; that's what MetaTalk's for, and even there I really don't want a thred started about what people all think of me. I'm fragile.

I'm trying to emphasize that the nature of this article proves Fox can't even pretend that they're trying to be supportive and patriotic about this. The very fact that they didn't even know WHO was going to be singing on 9/11 is an obvious sign that the likely high viewership of ceremonies, especially in a place as nationally significant as a performance at the Lincoln Memorial, is a great marketing advantage.

I thought letting Ricky Martin sign on the steps for the Inaguration was tasteless enough. This is pathetic.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:28 PM on September 5, 2002


think this is a perfect example of why all televisions should be burned

I'm calling Sturgeon's Law on that. See here for an example of the 10% which keeps me from burning my television.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:30 PM on September 5, 2002


"Kelly Clarkson is not signing the National Anthem on September 11"

Or singing, apparently.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:38 PM on September 5, 2002


God Bless America!
posted by zekinskia at 4:47 PM on September 5, 2002


Fox can't even pretend that they're trying to be supportive and patriotic about this.


Did you read the article? Here, easy to follow, just for you:

"This fabulous promotional stunt is the brainchild of Champions of Hope, a D.C.-based group "dedicated to improving the lives of young people" by getting them to participate in community service. Champions of Hope, looking to drum up publicity for the Sept. 11 launch of its United Day of Service campaign, secured permission to stage an event at the Lincoln Memorial and pursued the "American Idol" producers.

Aggressively."

It wasn't Fox's idea. Damn, reading is fundamental.
posted by SuzySmith at 4:52 PM on September 5, 2002


zekinskia: More like God Bless Emerica.
posted by Keyser Soze at 5:18 PM on September 5, 2002


They should let Anna Nicole Smith sing. At least she would be a more "accurate" representation of America. ; )
posted by stifford at 5:34 PM on September 5, 2002


stifford, that was just mean, so I hope you take in the best spirit when I tell you proudly:

Kiss my ass!
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:38 PM on September 5, 2002


Hey, I'm all about America. What difference is it to me if the Fox Network or the E! Network whores out who gets to sing the national anthem? (as long as I get to make snide remarks about it,lol...)
posted by stifford at 6:06 PM on September 5, 2002


I don't care *who* decided to have the as-then-unknown Idol winner sing, it's still disgustingly commercialistic and IMHO the opposite of the patriotism this country ought to show in any situation. Reminds me of the satirical radio stations from Grand Theft Auto III: "LIPS 106...the best in commercial radio, and proud of it!"

And Keyser: What about skate shoes? o_O (EmericaSkate.com)
posted by cyrusdogstar at 6:13 PM on September 5, 2002


Well, see, commercialism's kind of the point. It's to drum up support for this Champions of Hope thing. Yeah, I thought it'd rock if Radiohead or Fugazi did the national anthem too, but hey, the kids seem to like this American Idol thing. Whatever they can do to get their attention is a good thing.
posted by Stan Chin at 6:18 PM on September 5, 2002


but hey, the kids seem to like this American Idol thing. Whatever they can do to get their attention is a good thing.

uhh...if those kids are gullible enough to get suckered in to that "American Idol" trash, I think I'd prefer them not getting involved...
posted by stifford at 6:25 PM on September 5, 2002


No. That is not the way to do thing's at all. At least we the Britizens/UK'ers/Devoluted peoples - all leave the Established celebrities to mourn for our national tragedies.

Just think networks, a warning from history- When Pop Idols Go Wrong
posted by DaRiLo at 6:30 PM on September 5, 2002


Gawd bless Queen Elton.

I caught about five seconds of the American Pop Idol doing a duet with Will Young before making my excuses and leaving. I still think that Eddie Izzard's take is accurate, if a little scatty:

"The American national anthem I’ve noticed is a bit hazy in the middle! Cause it starts strong and you finish strong, but the middle bit’s a bit, “And fish in the sky, and a big monkey pie…” I’ve seen guys up there, halfway through, just losing it. “What the fuck is it?” “I came second, I’m from Turkey – I don’t know! Would you like some furniture?”

"But you do sing the national anthem – I’ve seen you singing the national anthem, and I’ve worked out how to do it. If you look – if you’re lost in the middle of it and you’re singing the words, you know, because – it – the tenor systems at big stadiums, you know, it – it doesn’t matter, wherever you’re singing it. All that people care about is – is the look – because th – th – there’s figures on this – 70% of what people react to is the look, you know, it’s how you look; and there’s about – 20% is whi – about how you sound; and only 10% is what you say. So if you look good and sound good, just up there going, “*gibberish to a few bars of The Star Spangled Banner*” Big mouth! “[more gibberish to a few more bars]” The eyes! “[more gibberish]” Use that! “[more gibberish]” And keep confirming and denying things. “[more gibberish, up to the words ‘star spangled banner yet wave’]"
posted by riviera at 6:36 PM on September 5, 2002


kids are gullible enough to get suckered in to that "American Idol" trash, I think I'd prefer them not getting involved...

You'd rather them not get involved in volunteerism (and quite possibly a beginning understanding of serious activist issues) just to defend your righteous indie-cred "everybody else is sheep" thing? How do you expect them to begin changing for the better? Are they that bad because they like pop music like a majority of their generation does? Should we punish them from caring because they happened to like celebrities?

So what if it's a corporate publicity stunt. A lot of people are going to fawn over the American Idol girl anyway, might as well be for a cause and whatever faux patriotism you'd like to label it with.
posted by Stan Chin at 6:44 PM on September 5, 2002


You'd rather them not get involved in volunteerism (and quite possibly a beginning understanding of serious activist issues) just to defend your righteous indie-cred "everybody else is sheep" thing?

Let's be serious, just because these kids watch the flavor of the month TV show doesn't mean they will be volunteering their free time just because "The Icon" sang the National Anthem.

So what if it's a corporate publicity stunt. A lot of people are going to fawn over the American Idol girl anyway

That girl that won will be lucky if she manages to be a Trivial Pursuit question in 2 years. What happened with that ABC "Making the Band" winners from last year? I don't believe "The O-Town Revolution" lasted that long.
posted by stifford at 6:58 PM on September 5, 2002


Stan Chin: You'd rather them not get involved in volunteerism (and quite possibly a beginning understanding of serious activist issues) just to defend your righteous indie-cred "everybody else is sheep" thing?

That's a might big non-sequitar you got there. The Young Republicans can get Britney to play for free in Wicker Park in Chicago but I doubt many kids will run over to the booth and sign up.

I think kids are a lot more shrwed than we give them credit for and with this interweb thing going on, probably a lot more intelligent than previous generations regarding media, spin, commercialization, etc. Lets give them some credit, please. We're not living in 1950's suburbia anymore.

What does bother me about this is that American Idol clearly validates the opinion that the celebrity star system is just as much hype and who you know as it is about talent, creativity, or hard work. Its probably much more the former than the latter. So we have an interesting perceptual problem here. A manufactured, perhaps even fake, celebrity is taking a sincere role with what looks like a sincere organization. Its like going to the autoshow to see all the new cars and conceptual toys and finding a replica KITT in the corner. The cars are real, the conceptual stuff is almost real, and KITT is completely fake.

Kelly is fake, or fake-like, and I think that is going to take away from whatever sincere message she might be delivering and this event certainly has nothing in common with activism. This isn't about raising consciousness and exposing problems, this is simple-minded cookie-cutter patriotism. I think the shrewd kids out there, and they are out in there en masse, might just see this as the crass-commercial event that it truly is, but enjoy the performance and the potential booty-shaking.
posted by skallas at 7:09 PM on September 5, 2002


Let's be serious, just because these kids watch the flavor of the month TV show doesn't mean they will be volunteering their free time just because "The Icon" sang the National Anthem.

They're pretty gullible, let's not dismiss that they just might at least be a little bit more aware of volunteering. Having a giant celebrity as Kelly Clarkson is an enormous fundraising boon to these groups. And yes, she is a giant celebrity right now. Whether she is going to be in a month isn't the point. Every local news station I saw spent a ten minute segment on American Idol last night, there was a deleted thread on MeFi yesterday after the winner was announced, I can't turn on the radio without another interview from one of the losers of the show, the girl is a damn star.

Yeah, maybe they should of had the remaining children of the WTC form a choir to sing the anthem if they wanted to milk sentimentality without incurring the wrath of the shrewd public. It still wouldn't have gotten as much publicity for these volunteer groups as Kelly Clarkson. Publicity = money. Money + Volunteer Organizations = Good.

on preview:
That's a might big non-sequitar you got there.

Sorry, that was out of line, just finished a similar discussion with a friend who decided that anyone who bought into corporate consumerism was naive and stupid and it rolled over.

Anyway, even if it's a bust for raising awareness among kids, I still think the volunteer group will come out a winner just from the publicity. It may harm their credibility, but it's an acceptable risk in my opinion.
posted by Stan Chin at 7:16 PM on September 5, 2002


Why is it that because someone became famous from a television show, they are a no talent hack, no matter what the truth is.

Truth is, Kelly Clarkson is very talented. I've watched American Idol all the way through (I love watching Simon trash people), but undiscovered people being discovered and making careers, thats a great thing.

She's pop music, not heavy metal or grunge or any other "cool" music genre that would allow her to be "cool" in the eyes of the elite in this group who would trash Kelly Clarkson, simply because she found a route to success.

I am sure she will go far, whether you like it or not. But let's look at the music scene. Simon put it great, these two (Kelly & Justin) are a whole lot better than some of the people that were at the Video Music Awards. Look at Britney, Christina, etc., and you will see a definite differance. While those two have some decent looks, they can't sing a lick. But Kelly Clarkson, now thats talent. She can sing, she looks good. She is the American Idol.

So don't automatically dismiss someone as "flavor of the month" just because their rise to stardom was a talent show. If they've got talent, which she does, they will succeed.
posted by benjh at 7:32 PM on September 5, 2002


She is the American Idol.

Just the concept that Fox will name "the Idol" for us all (the American Public) to worship is obnoxious. And Talent and Success have nothing to do with each other (the few instances that they overlap are coincidence). Maybe if VH1 is scrapping the bottom of the barrell in a couple of years trying to book "Pop Divas 6", you'll hear about this chick again. The General Taste of the American Public may be pretty horrible, but at least it's fickle so the interests change semi-frequently (even if it just moves on to some other type of crap...). Too bad she chose the most disposable art form to seek fame in...
posted by stifford at 7:47 PM on September 5, 2002


Champions of Hope has a website, but it wasn't very illuminating as to why they went this way. The obvious would be that they're going after that demographic to fill the ranks for their national service project goals, which have similarly glib labels -- collect 911,000 books ... end polio.

It's high-concept volunteerism. Hard to turn down, but amateurish to those of us who've been in the trenches.
posted by dhartung at 7:56 PM on September 5, 2002


Lost in all of this is the fact that it's not about the kids, or Kelly, or whoever else wants to use the event to further their own ends. Is getting kids involved in community service good? Sure. Is getting commercial avenues involved to help drum up their interest good? Sure. Is any of that - yes, even using Sept. 11 to get kids involved in community service - appropriate? No. Because, as we've seen, if only because it devolves quickly into a self-righteous defense of corporate marketing. "It's for the kids!" If the kids want to hold their own star-studded, tempting-the-corporate-bitch-goddess event somewhere _not_ on some of our nation's most symbolic ground at a time when we're still trying to figure out just what the fuck is happening to us, that's cool too. Just, please. Not on Sept. 11.
posted by risenc at 7:57 PM on September 5, 2002


benjh: Why is it that because someone became famous from a television show, they are a no talent hack, no matter what the truth is.

Imagine if this was a radio show. I'll play the part of the indie snob here for the sake of argument, but if Kelly Hogan's amazing pipes were punching the speakers on your home stereo you would probably sing her praises also, but she happens to be a bit overweight and not a TV-friendly cutie. Funny, how talent can be trumped by looks or the lack of. I wonder how many people were turned down from participating during the initial screenings because of looks. Afterall, this is television. Television is a business.


benjh: Simon put it great, these two (Kelly & Justin) are a whole lot better than some of the people that were at the Video Music Awards. Look at Britney, Christina, etc., and you will see a definite differance

Really? I don't. Perhaps you're trying to say that the American Idol kids are better live performers? If not this is getting too subjective for comfort.

benjh: She can sing, she looks good. She is the American Idol.

That's going to be a problem with some people and you shouldn't dismiss their criticism or lack of enthusiam automatically either. Like I mentioned earlier, I think the "kids" are more media savvy than some of our fellow posters give them credit for. They knows looks sell, they know the celebrity system is downright manufactured, and considering this they may not want to take Kelly Clarkson too seriously. That's their perogative and I see nothing wrong with dismissing her as more mainstream media fodder. I'm seeing more people accepting artists as peers and not idols then ever before. Perhaps poor Kelly's talent will be overshadowed by changing perceptions of media stars.
posted by skallas at 7:59 PM on September 5, 2002


All I'm trying to say is if you want to try and get kids to volunteer for things, there's probably a better demographic of kids to go after that would be more likely to actually volunteer.
posted by stifford at 7:59 PM on September 5, 2002


This is no more depressing and discouraging than Britney Spears whore-for-all performance on the Fourth of July on NBC, brought to you by Jeep. This is why I'm not patriotic. I'm not so much against the principles of the country as I am the practice of the vast majority of the people.

In history class, I always thought Nixon's Silent Majority (or was it LBJ? maybe both) was a cop-out. Frankly, I still do. Now I just hope one does exist so I can have some peers within the borders.
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:21 PM on September 5, 2002


In this case, I think the standard biblical definition of idol is more applicable than the modern one.
posted by gsteff at 9:43 PM on September 5, 2002


Just a minor point: Does anyone feel like commenting on the fact that, perhaps more than anyone in the recent history of the music business, Kelly Clarkson has made her name in a fashion that was extraordinarily democratic? I'm not entirely familiar with the way American Idol was conducted, but I've been led to believe that there was some sort of voting process and that she was selected from a large field of candidates. She's not someone who was benighted with superstardom and a corresponding look by some record executive the way pop stars typically are; this was conferred upon her by actual people. And if you are with me this far, then what better criterion is there by which to choose someone to sing the national anthem?

That said, I'm not saying that it takes a ton of talent (or at least musicianship) to do what Ms. Clarkson does. I'd have a lot more respect for her if she was actually writing her own material and preferably playing an instrument. But I think people who sing the national anthem typically need only be singers. I'm also disgusted to a large degree by the fact that the the "democratic process", in this case, was mediated through and conducted entirely for the benefit of corporate interests, and grant that it is probably representative of only a certain cross-section of the population (although it's probably the same cross-section which I think would validate, in the eyes of a lot of people anyway, the stardom of someone like Britney Spears). It's also quite disturbing, to me anyway, how willingly a lot of people assumed the role of a large focus group simply because that was what was on television. And of course there's also the possibility that legions of computer nerds stacked the deck by voting tens of thousands of times in an evening. But I think that at a certain point, results should speak for themselves.
posted by alphanerd at 11:16 PM on September 5, 2002


Alphanerd:

Singing ability takes an incredible amount of both talent and musicianship to cultivate, and Kelly Clarkson from what my Professional Musician friends tell me has the rare and legendary IT (at least vocally). The whole "vocal chords are an instrument too" theory you know. Classical musicians in orchestras don't write their own material and no one derides them for lack of talent. Lack of creative talent maybe.

As for the cross-section, first of all it was an extremely large cross section of viewers (9.7 Rating, 10 million households), and you could say that everybody participates in a focus group when they decide to buy a CD or not based on what they heard on the radio. "Willingly giving themselves" to television is the entire point of the medium. You surrender yourself for a bit to be entertained and be advertised.
posted by Stan Chin at 11:47 PM on September 5, 2002


"Professional Musician friends tell me has the rare and legendary IT (at least vocally). "

Yeah. She has it. I'm a "professional musician" ie: I make ALL my money either playing or teaching. When I started watching the show, she definately stuck out. She has excellent pitch, and musical sense. And to have those songs memorized in less than a week. The singers I know say that is really challenging.

I hope Kelly does well. She seems nice enough, and most of all of my students really liked her. Almost all of them disliked "sideshow bob" Justin.

Maybe we can get Kelly to sing at the Superbowl as well? I mean, Brittany did. And she sucked it. The only thing good was her outfit.........
posted by ericdano at 12:30 AM on September 6, 2002


Kelly Clarkson has made her name in a fashion that was extraordinarily democratic

Yes, but what's undemocratic about making your name through record sales, as Britney did? You may say Britney's success is all down to hype but the public has to be persuaded that the hype is worth it. You can't just force anyone on the public. The public chose to make Britney a star (hundreds fail) and they'll drop her in just the same democratic way.

The problem with these kind of shows is that the public is voting for a personality, not a talent. It doesn't really matter how well this girl can sing, she only really exists within the context of the show. Once she's out in the real world it's very, very unlikely she'll be around for more than a year. She'll have one No1 single then she'll fade. Then she'll be fit for nothing. Nobody will respect her talent - because nobody respects the show and the way she became famous. There'll be another American Idol soon and another short-lived celeb. Why do young people put themselves through this?

I read recently that Melanie Griffith is going to give Indian street children a week of luxury in her mansion then return them to the streets. Sounds familiar.
posted by Summer at 4:01 AM on September 6, 2002


Does anyone feel like commenting on the fact that, perhaps more than anyone in the recent history of the music business, Kelly Clarkson has made her name in a fashion that was extraordinarily democratic?

You don't think Fox had any pull into who was winning and who was losing on that show? I'd put more faith in florida balloting than the Fox network (although maybe they let peoples' vote count for the final round...maybe).
posted by stifford at 6:14 AM on September 6, 2002


the kids seem to like this American Idol thing

I don't know about the kids but from what I'm hearing a lot of the grown ups around here seem to be into this American Idol thing too.
posted by btwillig at 6:28 AM on September 6, 2002


Seems Kelly understands that it's exploitive, too.

I find it kinda funny that even FOX is uncomfortable with it, while the production company is sailing blithely onwards. I wonder if Kelly will capture the record for quickest breach of contract ever?

Nobody will respect her talent - because nobody respects the show and the way she became famous.

I really hope that's not the case, although you're probably right. Kelly is amazing -- her rendition of "Stuff Like That There" has brought me more enjoyment than any song I've heard on my local Clear Channel station in the past year. However, her (wildly out-of-touch) producers seem determined to destroy her. Her first single is a power ballad so cheesy Celine Dion would vomit, and it's coming out at a time when fakey "rocker chicks" like Avril Lavigne are the next big thing.

I'd have a lot more respect for her if she was actually writing her own material

Both she and the runner-up have expressed interest in writing music, and that production company has stated in no uncertain terms that they are going to make an album that sells, not coddle some young artist's aspirations at writing and producing (paraphrased from The Pulse, there's a brief transcript at Televsion Without Pity). Yeah, gotta love the music industry.
posted by brookedel at 2:56 AM on September 7, 2002


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