Thursday, May 3, 2007



Remember freak shows? For a quarter, voyeurs from small towns would eagerly gawk at the bearded lady, the World's Fattest Man, midgets, Siamese twins and Zippy the Pinhead.

"Oh wow, lookit that, Ma!"

"Not so loud, Timmy. It can hear you. Pass the popcorn."

But we've moved on from those barbaric times. We're civilized. Who goes to nasty old circuses now? That’s so twentieth century. Besides, why stare at physical deformities when it’s more fun to peel off a loser’s emotional scabs in front of everybody? Now that’s entertainment!

Today, the freak show comes to you.

Hey, isn't American Idol on tonight?

Oh, don't be fooled into thinking it's just a big and loud talent contest where bad singers disfigure good R&B/Rock 'n' Roll songs and induce migraines. No, it's a sleazy, lowbrow carnival where pop music's Axis of Evil gleefully crush the dreams of anyone foolish enough to step inside.

And how could you forget William Hung? Ick.

Is American Idol any worse than those daytime TV shows where you can watch the obese lesbian ex-nun having a incestuous relationship with her HIV+ step-brother who's in jail for stabbing their blind grandmother to death?

Sure it is. At least Jerry doesn't ask his victims to sing for their supper.

"Sweet Jesus, ain't she terrible? Sounds like somebody's torturing a cat, huh? Pass the popcorn."

And, of course, the noisy carnage drowns out a national dialog on topics like Iraq or rising gas prices or the sudden uselessness of the FDA. We're more interested in hearing about what Sanjaya's doing now. As Neal Postman wrote in Amusing Ourselves To Death, “Our politics, religion, news, athletics, education and commerce have been transformed into adjuncts of show business, largely without protest or even much popular notice. The result is that we are a people on the verge of amusing ourselves to death.”

Hey, whatever happened to Clay what's-his-name?