Some Comments On America’s Got Talent…
I started watching this show back during season 8. I don’t like many reality shows. In fact this season, was the first time I ever watched American Idol and I didn’t even finish the season. I stopped watching around the time they got time cut the contestants down to like 10 or 12 guys and 10 or 12 girls. They had cut so many singers I thought were great and kept a lot that weren’t that good in my opinion. So I lost interest. America’s Got Talent though, I have managed to watch faithfully each season because it’s just pure entertainment to me. There are acts you won’t see any other show and I just love the variety of it all.
However, there are many things about the show that aggravate me to the point that I have considered not watching it anymore. I can handle it when I disagree with the judges, opinions vary. I’m cool with that. What I am not cool with is all the contestants that seem to go missing without explanation. I think it was last year that a very nice old man preformed on the show. He song was outrageous and I loved it! It was about going out on a date and finding that the girl had a penis. It was so funny. He never appeared on the show again after he getting all the judges approval to go on to the next round. What kind of heinous fuckery is that? Then there’s the prize money. The top 10 contestants really need some prize money as well.
I did some research on one of the contestants that was never asked back. I don’t know how true it is but as I understand it, the trans community complained about Ray Jessel’s performance. I fully support the LGBT. I am pro gay marriage. I have gay friends, I’ve hung out at gay bars with them. I have no hate in my heart for anyone based on their sexuality. However, if it is true that Mr. Ray Jessel was pulled from later airings of the show because some members of the LGBT community found it offensive, then I am very disappointed in them and anyone else who found it offensive enough to complain about it. Being able to laugh at yourself is a good thing. There was no hate behind the man’s song. It was just funny and if you can’t see that then I feel sorry for you.
There was another contestant that never got his second chance on the show that stands out. It was a kid comedian and he’s jokes were pretty raunchy for his age but he was funny. Never saw him again and that is a shame. There are contestants that never got a second chance after making it through the first TV round and I could name them all but it’s the point of their absence I am trying to make. It’s just wrong. It’s a contest, if they make it past the judges, they should be allowed to preform again. If people complain about it that’s fine. They will have their chance to not for them soon enough. That’s how it should work. It shouldn’t be left up to some executive who is trying to appease the tiniest part of viewing population that are offended by something. This is something that really, really needs to be fixed.
Another problem with the show I’ve noticed, is something that’s also viewer related. But, something I don’t think she show can really fix. It’s the singers on the show. I have no problem with them. It’s hard for me to vote for them in the final round but, I have no problem with them on the show. However, I have seen a sort of backlash against them the past few years. Because of this, I think it’s going to be a while before a singer ever wins the big prize.
The backlash I first noticed a couple of years when I used to post regularly on Facebook. My FB friends didn’t like the singers on the show. I don’t recall who it was on the show but I had posted that I voted her, she was of course a singer. My friends damn near attacked me over my vote for her. They felt that AGT isn’t for singers. If you’re singer, tryout for The Voice or American Idol, told me. The acts they voted for were the comedians, the magicians, the dancers, acts like Freelusion and Siro-A and so on. Acts they’d really want to go and see in Vegas. And, I have to admit in some ways, I agree with them.
It won’t stop me voting for a singer or band. I voted for Benton Blount all the way through. He wasn’t the only act I voted for in the finale, I voted for 3 acts primarily. I have 3 gmail accounts so I voted for Paul Zerdin, Stevie Starr and Drew Lynch primarily. They each got 40 votes me for. Benton Blount, as much as Loved him, only got 20 votes from in the finally. The reason being, as much as I genuinely like the guy and his music, I’m not a big concert fan. If anything is going to pull me away from a blackjack table in Vegas it’s not going to be a musician. I have seen lots of acts in Vegas, even Carrot Top once (to be honest, I had free tickets). But, to go see someone singing, I’ve been to concerts before, and they pretty much bore me. The music doesn’t sound that good live, the crowds annoy me, it’s just not my thing at all.
So I can see the argument against the singers and bands. People picture a Vegas show as being more like Blue Man Group and Penn & Teller type acts then someone who just won a talent show for singing. I can see going to a Vegas show for a legitimate icon like Billy Joel or Celine Dion. I would NEVER go see Celine Dion, I’m sure she’s a wonderful person but her music pretty much makes me gag. But, she’s an icon, I get it. I would however go to see someone like Paul Zerdin, Derek Hughes, Oz Pearlman or Drew Lynch. A singer, just not my thing. And, not while in Vegas unless they are truly an icon.
This season was the toughest for me. I honestly loved so many of the contestants this season. Voting in the finale, I swear to God I don’t believe in that I sat in front of my PC for over two hours trying to decide who wasn’t going to get my votes. I re-watched clips on YouTube even. My final decisions actually made me feel guilty. I wanted to vote for Benton Blount more. I had planned to vote for Derek Hughes and Uzeyer Novruzov but I agreed with the judges comments on Derek Hughes. He came out and did rope tricks. I love the guy but he did rope tricks and they weren’t that original. There was Uzeyer Novruzov my favorite from the beginning! But, I just couldn’t vote for him in the finale, not when his performance was so lack luster. I understand he was hurt but it wasn’t fair to the other contestants that went out there and killed it.
My last and finale concern or recommendation rather, the prize money. America’s Got Talent makes millions and millions of dollars. They need to bump up the prize money. A million, paid out over 40 years? Really NBC? Bump it up to 2 million as the top price. Then, take a another million and give the number two person 500k, 350k for 3rd place and so on down to the number 10 spot. Go big or go home. Make the show bigger! Because a million dollars sounds great but when it’s paid out over 40 years, that’s about 2k a month. Sure, an extra 2k a month would be nice but it’s not about nice. It’s supposed to be “life changing”. And, if it’s a group that wins the big prize. How sad is that is going to be if a trio wins and their cut of the money is going to be less then $700.00 a month. Cough it up NBC. AGT is one of the few shows you have that doesn’t suck, throw more money at it.
Anyways, these are just some very unorganized thoughts I’ve had about the show. And, after re-watching the finale again last night I just had the urge to rant about it a little.
Those Times I Learned About Racism…
I know the big thing in the racism of today is what we are calling “White Privilege” and I’m not sure if that’s a correct or not. I think it’s more “White Ignorance” then anything else. My opinions have changed so dramatically since I was a kid in high school back in the 80’s with regards to things like racism, religion and homophobia. Back then I was blind to the racism around me. I loved the Cosby show, I couldn’t be racist. I had black friends, I couldn’t be racist. I had no problems with interracial dating. The only racism I ever saw came from the government in my eyes and later TV.
I was against any laws that required a business owner to hire someone based on the color of their skin. How was that not racist? I would hear minorities talk about the lack ethnicity in TV and film and I would think, it’s bullshit. The number 1 show was the Cosby Show. The movies I liked had black people in them. They weren’t always the main character but they were at least there. There was more discrimination against white people than there were minorities. Racism was a thing back in the 60’s. This was the 80’s none of my friends were racist.
in my eyes, my train of thought became confirmed in the early ’90’s when I was trying to get hired on as a cop. Time and time again I couldn’t get hired because I was white. I saw minority men and women get hired that didn’t score as well as I had done on the various tests. In one case, I saw a Latina fail the physical agility test for LAPD and get asked back for the oral interview. I scored higher on the orals than she had and yet, that was the last I heard from the LAPD and she continued on. Later I was a reserve deputy sheriff and I got to play golf with one of the sergeants from my station and a captain that worked at one of the jails. The captain had been the sergeant in charge of or the lieutenant in charge of hiring before he’d become a captain. He had asked why I hadn’t been hired yet. Told him I didn’t know. He said that he would look into it. It turned out that I should have been hired. However, I and dozens of others had been passed over because they had to hire more minorities.
I was young and ignorant and I just couldn’t understand how person of color could say with a straight face that they were being discriminated against. I thought that not based on research but my very limited experiences. And, that is the problem. That is what white people don’t get about racism. As human beings there are two ways we can survive. One is through learning from our experiences and the other is through is education.
The problem is that both ways of learning are full of problems. In my case, my life experiences were showing me one thing and one thing only and I was ignorantly allowing that one thing to influence my entire thoughts on racism in America. I never directly saw a minority not get hired because of the color of their skin. Therefore, racism could not exist to the lengths the media was telling me that it did. This is exactly how a lot of people think on the subject of racism. White or black, we refuse to believe in the facts if they don’t agree with what we have seen. This can lead to racism because when we see enough of the same thing over and over again, we are going to believe it as being true. And, when we stop looking at the facts it’s we become blind to the truth.
I was later smacked in the face with this reality just a few years later. I was working for a security company that hired off duty cops to protect FEMA locations. I worked 7 days a week in South Central L.A. just a couple of building shy of Crenshaw and Jefferson. This was real close to where ground zero of the L.A. riots had gone down a few years before. There was this really amazing soul food place just down the street I would often go to for lunch. I would go in there and feel so uncomfortable because I was always the only white guy in the place. At any given moment, I could look up in any direction and see people staring at me. Some looked angry, some just looked confused at what in the hell I was doing in there. But, I will never forget that feeling. I learned then what it must be like for blacks when they walk into some business. My black friends had told me about this and I ignorantly thought they were just being paranoid. Turns out they weren’t paranoid, I was just in denial and very ignorant about the whole thing.
The most disturbing example of this kind of thing happened to me a few years after the South Central incident. I was now working as a car salesmen. I was doing pretty well at the time. One of the other salesmen was a black guy and I liked him. He was little uptight but a strong salesmen and a good person. One day, he called me on the phone and asked if I could meet him at a store he was shopping in. I didn’t live too far away so I told him I’d be there in a minute. He said that security was following him around. Again, I thought he was being paranoid.
I arrive at the store. Right away I spot the undercover guy looking down one of the isles, trying to be discreet. I walk past him and sure enough he’s looking at T.J, my friend. I was in a shirt and tie and T.J was in a full suit having just got off work. I call out to him as I turn on to the isle and he smiles at me and I smile back. He had been right that he was being watched. But, I was still in denial about it until, I turned and saw the security give me a nod that said in every way, “Oh, okay he must be one of the good ones.” and then he walked away. This was unbelievable to me. We didn’t see the security guy again. I was embarrassed. Here was T.J. a better person than I was. Yet, he was being watched and the moment I show up it appears that I have more or less “vouch” for him and security leaves him alone.
That moment has stuck with me for over 20 years. I had learned that I was looking at this racism issue all wrong. It’s out there and it hides in many ways and all of it is evil. I think racism will eventually fade away. But, we have got to learn to recognize it. This goes for all of us regardless of race. Not everything is a race issue and I think our society overreacts to a lot of things that weren’t meant as being racist but sounded like there were. We have got to educate people on how to recognize the difference. Because, I never considered myself to be racist and yet in many ways I was. It had nothing to do with any kind of white privilege. I was just ignorant to it. I didn’t see it in my daily life and so when it was there, I rationalized it away. It wasn’t until I started to see it from a place outside of my own experiences that I began to understand how very real the issue is.
I was reminded of that moment when I read the ignorant but racist sounding rants of an actress last night after Viola Davis when her Emmy. General Hospital actress Nancy Lee Grahn went on an ignorant rant on Twitter. She wasn’t showing what some are calling “White Privilege”, she showed white ignorance. I don’t think she’s racist, I think she’s ignorant. I have no doubt she has had similar experiences in her life to those that I had growing up and because of it has become blind to it. And, when confronted with real racism I am guessing these things are simply rationalized away by her. I did the same thing and I am embarrassed at how blind I was to the real problems of racism in this country.
Many people, like I used to be, see racism as something that is overt. Slavery, the race riots and so on. We don’t understand what it’s like to be that minority that gets pulled over for no other reason than the color of their skin. Not even the cop sees that their stop was based on the color of that person’s skin in many cases. The thing all of us need to understand is that racism is real, and it mostly hides now. Sometimes it hides under the guise of Southern Pride, sometime it can hide under the guise of immigration reform but most of the time, it hides under our very own ignorance.