I am really amused that the first time my full name - not merely the pinyin-nised name, but MY FULL NAME - appeared in the local papers is for something I wrote related to...American Idol. Too bloody hilarious. I read the cover story they did last week (or whenever it was that Kris won) and emailed them about it because I disagreed with something. They emailed me back a few days later asking for my permission to publish it, should they decide to. Obviously I was all, Hell yeah!, because I'm a whore for publication like that.
But damn, if I'd known that it might appear in print before I sent it out, I might've put more effort into the bloody email. In any case, I was wondering how they were going to edit it because it's fairly long (as per everything I write) and I'm really amused, too, that they left intact the polite, not-really-sincere bits commending the article. I was actually quite nice in my email, surprisingly; it was definitely nowhere near the level of vitriol that I directed at Channel 5 over the Desperate Housewives censorship.
Anyway, here's my awesome email in full:
To whom it may concern:
I read with interest your cover story on the American Idol finale, expecting yet another "homophobia won!" spin that has been infecting the Internet ever since Kris Allen won. While I was heartened to see that your story is relatively balanced and ultimately vindicated Allen's well-deserved victory, for which I thank you, there were two points which I very much disagree with.
First, you insinuated that America did not vote for change because Allen won. With all due respect, as someone who has watched Idol religiously since Season 3 and followed online forums dedicated to the show since Season 6, I believe that, contrary to what you suggested, Allen's victory is a sign that voters did vote for change. It is not change in the political sense, and it should not be; Idol is not a
political show. It is a singing competition that has evolved into a platform where musicians and artists can have a shot at the career that they want. Essentially, though, American Idol is about discovering a previously-undiscovered talent from tens of thousands of unknown faces and giving them the biggest platform ever to showcase
their talent. Simultaneously, American Idol is also a television show with which its producers have always interfered, picking certain "producers' favourites" contestants to showcase in the early rounds which disadvantage other contestants that do not have the luxury of similar screentime. The behind-the-scenes machinations and manipulations by the producers is most glaring this season: the over-the-top praising of Adam Lambert (sometimes deserved, sometimes not) and Danny Gokey (mostly undeserved) by the judges was extremely blatant throughout the whole season, and the show made it crystal clear who they wanted in the final two. They also made it crystal
clear who they wanted to win. Kris Allen was meant to be canon fodder from the beginning: No one knew who he was when he sang Man in the Mirror in the semi-final, and he was not the only one shocked when he made it to the Top 13. Yet, week after week he came out with strong performances that carried him through. He hooked in audiences like
myself with his sincere, earnest delivery of his songs, his genuine, raw and tender emotional connection with his songs, and with his creative and distinct rearrangement of familiar songs. Nobody expected him to make it past the top 7, then the top 5, then the top 3; him making the final 2, pushing out producers' favourite Gokey in the process, was a testament to his talent and the quiet, unassuming and subtle way in which he won over enough people to carry him to the finale.
Kris Allen actually winning, however, is in part a statement by Idol viewers to the producers that their behind-the-scenes machinations have no sway on how they vote. Just beacuse they wanted Lambert to win, doesn't mean they will get Lambert as a winner - and they did not. In this sense, "America" voted for change - they voted for the
under-featured dark horse who got through by sheer talent and hard work, over the equally-talented frontrunner who unfortunately suffered from the over-enthusiastic over-promotion by the producers (for instance: Lambert was the only one from the Top 5 who got an Entertainment Weekly cover). In this sense, too, Kris Allen being crowned the new American Idol was shocking: It was shocking that the
producers' plan failed, that the Idol machine is not as well-oiled as it perhaps believed, and that, true to the show's basic premise, an unknown from a mass sea of faces can come from nowhere and win it all. Kris Allen is the only Idol winner not to have his audition aired and to be virtually anonymous, save for 10 seconds of face time in the
Hollywood group round when he was featured with Matt Giraud, another producers' favourite, before the semi-final. If his winning is not in part a signal to the Idol producers that the viewers are tired of their behind-the-scenes manipulations, I really do not know what is.
Second, you said that Allen and Gokey have a similar vibe. By this I hope you meant that they are both Christians, because the mere suggestion that they are anything similar musically is a huge insult to Allen's distinct musicality, his passion for music, and his talent in changing up familiar songs to make them his own (Ain't No Sunshine,
She Works Hard for the Money, Heartless, Falling Slowly). Gokey is pure karaoke with no sense of who he is as an artist and no clue whatsoever what to do with his voice. Allen, on the other hand, is the whole package. He has a distinct vibe, he knows himself, he plays multiple instruments, and he has displayed enough musicianship and
musicality on the show to prove that he is not just another
run-of-the-mill karaoke singer the way Gokey is. He connects with his songs with his heartfelt singing and thoughtful vocal phrasing, while Gokey coasted by week after week with his sob story, his religion, and the pimping given to him by the producers. Allen is the musician that Gokey is not, and will never be. No way do they have a similar vibe, and that bit of lazy writing was extremely disappointing to read.
Lastly, as a Kris Allen fan who was slowly won over by the talented Pocket Idol, I am a bit disappointed that your story is about why Lambert lost and not why Kris won. I think Kris deserves a story charting his Idol journey - because it is the most unique Idol journey I have ever witnessed on the show. I say this as a huge David Cook fan
for whom Season 7 is still the best season of Idol. While I understand that Kris' victory is the biggest Idol upset ever, I think your story could have benefited with another article on why Kris Allen won.
Having said all that, though, I must commend you for a relatively balanced article. I did not like your characterisation of Kris, but the article could have been a lot worse. The last part where you interviewed Ken Lim and another Singapore Idol judge also vindicated his well-deserved victory. Thank you for that.
They totally cut out the reasons I gave for saying that comparing Gokey to Kris is insulting to Kris. And I'm pretty sure "cannon fodder" is not spelled "canon fodder" but they didn't edit it. HA HA HA.
I'm still not reading the Straits Times. Ever. I only picked up Life! today to see if they really published my letter...which reminds me. I didn't read the others.
I'm too lazy and can't be bothered.
I'm really amused today. REALLY AMUSED.
Anyway, dinner last night was amazing. I love Sheraton's food. Actually, to be more precise, I love their desserts. I was super hungry from tennis so I happily took...okay, I was going to say I took a lot of food but if I'm being honest I didn't take an amount more than what I usually take (which is very little). I do think I took three pieces of fish though. Usually I only take one because I don't like eating fish.
I was still quite hungry after the first plate so I went to take a bowl of mushroom soup. I stupidly filled the bowl almost to its brim, and half a bowl of soup and three pieces of bread (their tomato bread was AMAZING) later, I was almost completely full. Still, I was determined to eat their sushi...and after maybe 4 pieces, I was an inch closer to being completely full. HOWEVER! I'd been eyeing the desserts spread the whole night, and when I saw my brother cutting into this amazing-looking lava chocolate cake, I knew that it was time to enjoy my favourite type of food: DESSERTS.
Last night I satisfied two cravings at one go: tiramisu and sticky date pudding. The latter wasn't fantastic (they forgot the toffee/caramel/dunno what sauce. Where was the sauce. Seriously) but the former...wow. A bit too rich in alcohol, but the bloody creamy part was AMAZINGGG.
But the best part? THE FUCKING LAVA CHOCOLATE CAKE. FREE FLOW OF LAVA CHOCOLATE CAKE BECAUSE IT WAS A BUFFET. YOU ORDER ONE OF THOSE TINY CAKES OUTSIDE AND YOU'RE 11 BUCKS POORER. IT WAS FREE FLOW LAST NIGHT. DEFINITELY IN DESSERTS HEAVEN.
I ate a second one in the end despite feeling like I was gonna burst after the first one and a second serving of tiramisu. It was well worth it.
I love chocolate. I love desserts. I need to keep exercising or I'm gonna lose my figure.
Okay, I'm like going to faint from hunger now. I can't think anymore. That's all.