Wednesday, February 21, 2007

While Jules is on a bloggy break...

maybe I can get away with an American Idol post?  Seriously, this has been rattling around in my head, and I must write it down, or type as the case may be.

I'm not a fanatical watcher of the show.  I've seen a bit here and there of each season but I don't TiVo/DVR/tape any part of it or overturn U.N. resolutions to catch it.  However, something a friend mentioned the other day made me pay closer attention to what I was watching.

He said, "American Idol is the symbol of postmodern culture."  He based his statement on how the contestants respond when the judges critique their performance.

For example, a 20-something walks in to the audition and sings some screeching, nails on blackboard rendition of "Unbreak My Heart".  Throughout the tragedy, the judges have alternately grimaced and laughed.  When the contestant finishes, one of the judges gamely asks him, "How do you think you did?"

Contestant: "I think it was good."  (postmodern use of "good" for all things relevant to "me")

Deliberately the judges inform him that his singing will certainly be used by Jack Bauer in his next interrogation of a terrorist.  The judges aren't being rude.  They evaluate the contestant on the industry's accepted standard necessary to qualify as 1) singing and 2) talented singing that will draw crowds, sell concerts & CDs, or maybe even win awards.

Contestant: "Well, that's your opinion." (postmodern nod to the belief that everyone has an opinion and that's okay because sometimes opinions can pass for truth, when necessary, which is a relative issue)

"That's your opinion."  He doesn't question qualified judges as to how he could improve or even why his singing was unacceptable--quantifiable characteristics of being pitchy, off-key, muddled words, poor voice/tone quality.  Instead drawing from his years of relative truth training, he believes himself perfectly reasonable to justify his performance with the valueless statement, "that's your opinion."

Since hearing S. mention this, I've noticed it every time I watched.  There is a staggering lack of truth acceptance because there is a staggering lack of truth understanding.  None of these people would buy an 8-track of someone who sounded like them, but they believe themselves singers because they want to believe it.  The idea of believing something based on truth doesn't matter because truth to postmoderns is a changing standard.

If this phenomena were only pertinent to reality shows, then this post would be over.  We could just all pledge not to watch silly reality shows.  Unfortunately, this reality show actually exhibits a reality. 

People choosing to believe what they feel most comfortable believing regardless of quantifiable standards, mouthing off about opinions and tolerance for opinions as ideals of behavior, and complete ignorance of personal limitations.  On American Idol, mildly entertaining in a shocking way; amongst Christians, grievous and a stain on the body of Christ.

Quantifiable standards, behavior ideals, and understanding of personal limitations--all found in Sola Scriptura. 

And we thought taking the Ten Commandments out wouldn't be that big of a deal.  Look what we've inherited.


  1. HEY! I'm taking a break from blogging, not blog READING!

    I'm watching you Wazowski! Always watching...

  2. Hmm... how is it you say all the thoughts running through my head??? What really gets me is you say it so much better that the words I have running around up there. I mean come on already. :) Once again you have nailed it dead on, sister.
    I find that I have such a hard time calling someone on something that is obviously wrong, sometimes I even chalk it up to, "well she must not be convicted about that!" *Sigh* if I give you my password will you write all my blog posts from now on? LOL

  3. Great point!! This is something we've noticed during the small handful of times we've watched that show, but I never really correlated it to the whole mindset of today. It does make it hard to talk to someone when they want to base everything on opinion, doesn't it?? But the fact remains, there is truth. And one day, every knee WILL bow to Christ, whether we like that or want to hear it right now or not.

  4. Hubs and I have been watching Idol and have been commenting on the truly humble nature of one contestant (Melinda). So many of them exhibit exactly what you describe. "Well, that's what YOU think!" You nailed it with this statement: People choosing to believe what they feel most comfortable believing regardless of quantifiable standards, mouthing off about opinions and tolerance for opinions as ideals of behavior, and complete ignorance of personal limitations. On American Idol, mildly entertaining in a shocking way; amongst Christians, grievous and a stain on the body of Christ.

  5. Fantastic observation! I think that terrible singers who criticize honest feedback from professionals in the music industry are products of the everyone wins, there are no losers concept of competition. I applaud the Simon Cowals of the world who place high value on excellence and have the courage to "call it the way he sees it". Left unchecked, this new generation will have no concept of excellence and will produce nothing but mediocrity.

  6. I don't really watch the show either, but I love these thoughts. It's so true of the "kids" today.

  7. "American Idol is the symbol of postmodern culture."

    I would have to disagree. "Postmodern culture" is something to be defined itself - but it certainly wouldn't be represented by the individualistic and competitive modernism of American Idol. I don't agree with the philosophy of postmodernism, particularly not Lytotard's postmodernism (some call him the father of postmodernism). And I'd agree that plurality and relativism are aspects promoted in his attempt to dispense with metanarratives.
    However the fact that some-one comes up with "that's your opinion" hardly means they are postmodern. There's a relativism to the statement, but it is not a uniquely postmodern statement. Moderns have used it plenty - because modernism does not mean the absence of any relativism at all.

    Calling people postmoderns fails on two levels. Firstly, it is extremely doubtful that there is anyone who is truly postmodern - it is simply not possible to dispense with certain rational absolutes. Secondly, it has become trendy to label people "postmodern" whether they are or not.

    Does American idol dispense with metanarrative? Quite the opposite - it relies on a very well known metanarrative.

    Does "well that is your opinion" actually mean the personn is being relative? Not necessarily - true relativity would give credence to the opposing opinion. However the statement used is dismissive - a form of denying the opinion. It is not said to convey equality in plurality.

    Are "quantifiable" standards for everything found in sola scriptura? It can appear so - one does not murder - that is quantifiable. But what about the heart? One does not commit adultery - that is quantifiable - but what of the eye? You could say we can measure these things. I'd be aware of the propensity for pride - "look how I can quantify my standards". The spirit of scripture is key.

    I wrote a series on postmodernism and have done other posts on it - in particular looking at how it tries to remove Christianity as a metanarrative and how Christanity outdoes postmodernism. But, speaking honestly, the word "postmodern" is applied to people as a trendy word to use these days - and applied without it's actual meaning. The fact that people have some relativity doesn't mean they are postmodern.

    American Idol postmodern - that's stretching it beyond credulity.

  8. Elle,
    Wel I don't like my last sentence there - that was a bit OTT. Sorry! I don't think American idol is postmodern but I think you've hit on the relativism issue. In terms of what postmodernism is you are right in that it allows for competing truth claims, and gives them equal validity.
    I have observed a trend with the postmodern label - but I don't like the inference that could be drawn from what I said - as if you are just being trendy. It wasn't what I meant - I have observed it in other places directly. I apologise for that - it comes across to me that you spotted the relativism and on that I agree. :)