It’s no secret, a lot of people are lousy parents.
If it weren’t for bad parents, we wouldn’t have such great television shows as Supernanny. We probably also wouldn’t have Jerry Springer.
That’s why I love Simon Cowell.
I’m sure Simon would love me too, if he got to know me. Not that I think Simon would make a great nanny. He probably has very little skill at poaching an egg or reading a bedtime story with funny voices. But there’s one skill Simon excels at:
Simon makes a career at making the dreams of a few young people come true on American Idol…and making sure the dreams of a bunch of other young people don’t come true. It’s not really a skill that’s hard to develop. It’s just that Simon has to do it because so many people don’t do it at all.
The way I see it, the people who win American Idol, deserve to win. The people who show up for tryouts and make fools of themselves don’t deserve to win. And Simon is there to tell these fresh young faces that, no, they don’t have what it takes, and they should continue to look for their calling in life.
If you ask me, Simon is doing what millions of parents and relatives and friends should’ve done for these people, before they tried to get on television. Some singers get rejected, and reality hits them like a ton of bricks. “How can this be? Everyone has always told me I’m a good singer! My mom says I’m the best singer at school!” That’s bad parenting.
Others get on TV, apparently looking forward to being rejected by Simon so they can have the justification they need to follow other dreams. “See, mother! I am not a singer! Stop making me wear these matching sailor suits and practicing these Andrew’s sisters songs with you! I am a grown man!”
All because everyone was afraid to offer a little gentle criticism where it was needed. I’m certainly glad my friends laughed their butts off when I tried to do kareoke for the first time. I thought I could carry a tune. I’m glad I was told differently, so I didn’t have to make a fool of myself again. Sure, there was probably a more subtle way of delivering the bad news, but it was effective. I didn’t want to be one of those kids in the school talent show that gave a hilarious performance…except they didn’t seem to know they were being funny. The experience caused me irrevocable psychological damage, but I’m better for it. And every time someone looks like an idiot on Idol, it vindicates me a little bit.
I’m also glad my P.E. coach forced me to prove to myself that I cannot climb a rope while wearing short pants, and thus, I should direct my efforts to less humiliating tasks.
Is it better to let someone think they know how to sing, or allow someone to go through with a terrible idea, or let some kid go unaware that his body odor is extremely offensive and he will never have any friends unless he takes a bath and uses deodorant on a daily basis?
I think I like Simon because I hate to criticize people, and I admire people who have skills I don’t. I know, that may seem far-fetched, since I make a regular habit of criticizing people on this blog. I should edit that to say, I hate to criticize people I like. I hate to have to hurt someone’s feelings, almost as much as I hate having my own feelings get hurt. Simon’s doing our dirty work that we don’t have the stomach for.
It’s just as hard to take criticism from others. I have to fight the urge to take it personally. I want you to like me, and if you don’t think highly of all of my skills, you must not like me! As if the fact that I can’t sing means no one wants to be my friend. If I have to be able to sing to be someone’s friend, he’s probably trying out for a part in Cats, and I hate that musical, and I don’t need his friendship.
Of course, we can’t all be like Simon. We can’t all go around telling people how it is, can we? How do you deal with criticism, being on the business end of it, or being the dealer? Do you shoot people straight, or try to smile while you tell them they’re awesome when they clearly are not? Do you have a proven strategy for being able to knock anyone down a peg without hurting their feelings?