Monday, August 25, 2008

The Meaningless "Atta Boys" of American Culture

“American Idol” Reflects American Culture
by William E. Cripe, Sr.

If you’re one of the millions who watch the wildly popular “American Idol” I trust you will appreciate what I am about to say. Week after week in these early stages of tryouts, we are “treated” to a montage of Americans who, with stars in their eyes, gyrate, rotate, vibrate, juggle and dance with a song in tow and a dream of being the next pop super star.

To be sure, many show up just to say they went; and I have to believe that many more are putting on when they get upset and act shocked when they are told they can’t sing. Tear, sobs, wails and expletives often accompany the star struck entertainers, supposedly crushed to the core, when they are told flatly that they stink.

But what are we to think when the others, who are truly awful by any objective standard of talent, are honestly shaken to the core because, apparently for the first time, someone is honest with them? The fact is, being judged for the actual quality of their performance rather than the quality of their desire obliterates the fragile bubble of self-esteem inflated over the years by the guardians of mediocrity.

Of the three judges on the show, everyone seems to loathe Simon Cowell. He is blunt, no nonsense and sometimes downright mean—all true. But meanness aside, his assessment of talent, more often than not, is dead on. And contestants leave in tears or cursing or both insisting these professionals—who make their livings assessing real talent—have “no idea what they’re talking about.” And why? Because they have never been told they are anything but "Fantastic!” “Great!” “Awesome!” much less that they have no talent whatsoever.

What we see in American Idol is the fruit of a hollow generation where no one was ever cut from a team, few if any have ever been allowed to “fail” and where everyone was given an award just for showing up.

And so this generation of deluded adults struggles through life bewildered when doors remain locked, and the sea does not part before them. When God was kicked out of our schools, truth also packed its bags and children were left to find meaning in cheap diplomas and worthless awards. But the real world does not operate on the measure of one’s sincerity. Hard work, in the absence of ability, is no guarantee of success.

So, instead of a red carpet, these children, now grown, get a pink slip, having been set up for failure in a vacuum of truthful honesty. These young adults are left shattered, the harvest of an ethos germinated in the soils of deceitful “Way-to-go’s” and meaningless “Atta-boys.”

God allows us to ignore Him and His wisdom for life, but we do so at our own peril.

“The sins of the fathers are visited to the third and fourth generation,” and it is up to us to stop the delusion.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy,” wrote Solomon. (Proverbs 27:6) The young people of today have been given the kiss of death in so many ways. Who will love them enough to “hurt” them for their own good?

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