American Idol Season Seven: The Freak Show Begins
How else to explain the lengths to which they make some of the freaky rejects at their auditions go through, just for the privilege of being ridiculed by the largest audience in modern TV?
Case in point: the hairy, bellydancing fat guy.
Sure, beefy Ben Haar planned to face the judges at Philadelphia's auditions in a skimpy Princess Leia outfit, prompting Paula Abdul to exclaim "I can't get past the chest hair." But it took a truly fiendish producer to encourage the guy to go out and get his voluminous chest hair waxed -- which they filmed -- just so he could come back with a smooth chest and stomach to complete the gag. (thank God Simon called an end to the whole awful display before Harr could sing, noting it was "all because that fat lump wanted to be on TV.")
And so it went on last night's two-hour debut of Idol's seventh season, which told the story of auditions in Philadelphia in a rhythm familiar to fans: nice enough people who can hold a tune, spiced by freaks who shouldn't get within the same time zone as a live microphone.
It's an odd game in the early days (more than 100,000 people auditioned this year). Most of the people passed through these tryouts to auditions in Hollywood we will never see again. And the freaks have become so freaky, they are almost painful to watch. Funny as it was to see a guy dressed like Howard Stern in drag wearing a "Gender Chameleon" t-shirt, you mostly wanted to steer him to some serious psychological help and a good barber.
Longtime fans also know singers pass through two auditions with no-name producers before they get to the Holy Trinity of Simon, Paula and Randy. So producers knew that, even as overweight, football playing 16-year-old Temptress Browne poured her heart out about wanting to pay tribute to her morbidly obese mom as an Idol contestant, she was already a Dead Girl Walking.
And how did Idol's cameras wind up at the one-room studio apartment of aspiring veterinarian and rejected aspirant Alexis Cohen, a glitter-wearing, Grace Slick-sounding doppleganger for Willem Dafoe who broke into an inexplicable, profanity-filled rage when Simon quite nicely noted she was crazier than a sack full of Sanjayas?
Diabolical, I tell you. No wonder this is TV's most-watched show. Strap in folks -- the freak show continues tomorrow and for two more weeks.