Their American Idol?
The recently-concluded Season 11 of American Idol has made US immigrants -- Filipinos and Latinos alike --more reflective and assertive. However, the turnout of events only indicates that American Idol is truly a search for the 'American idol.'
On Wednesday night of May 23rd (Eastern Daylight Saving Time), all eyes and ears were tuned on the television. This date was the grand finale and announcement night of the new American Idol. I couldn't figure out the energy of the Filipinos, each casting a maximum of 50 votes on Facebook and 100 votes on the phone a day before.
At 9:58pm, the winner was announced. Phillip Phillips, a white guy with a guitar (WGWG), won over Jessica Sanchez, a 16-year old half-Latina, half-Filipina young lady from California whose influence has reached the farthest end of the world. Phillip received the larger slice of the pie consisting of an estimated 132 million votes.
I was holding my laptop at the finale time, trying to track breaking news, trends, and buzzes on Facebook and Twitter. Social Media is physically inaudible, but I seemingly could almost feel and hear how it cut through the pandemonium that took place: no rant, no ovation -- just silence in the social media. The 'silence' lasted for minutes. There were bits and pieces of statuses, but they were not as loud as involving congratulatory messages, fan shoutouts, exclamation marks, and animated smileys. I checked on the AI site and what I got were nasty haters' comments from both sides.
What Went Wrong?
Nothing actually went wrong. Jessica's performance was astounding. To borrow Disney's favorite byword, her performance was "shining, shimmering, splendid!"
However, American Idol is a contest that is meant only for the Caucasian American -- without slur or offense. Richard Rushfield, author of the book 'American Idol: The Untold Story,' has emphasized that for several seasons, AI's winning icon is represented by a WGWG. There have been attempts of minorities with prolific voices in the past: Jennifer Hudson, Jasmin Trias, David Archuleta -- but they all ended as runners up.
'The Judges Know Best'
I don't mean saying Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson, and Steven Tyler, know who made the greatest performance. Rather, they knew who needed to win as an icon -- not necessarily based on tough criteria. They know that it will preserve their dignity, morality, and reputation in the entertainment industry. They are accountable to the traditionally dominant Caucasian country-loving folks who will do everything to preserve an institutionalized structure that has been maintained for generations. It is sad to accept that even the judges of one of America's top-rated shows are subject to the will of the prevailing structure.
The only thought that came to mind after the announcement was embedded in my FB status: 'JLo and Randy Jackson need to resign from AI because they have lost their relevance.'
A Night of Great Entertainment
Below are bits and pieces that made the night...
Phillip Phillips, 2012 American Idol
Jessica Sanchez singing her unique version of 'The Prayer'
Jessica Sanchez and the legendary Jennifer Holliday in their unforgettable duet