Saturday, May 24, 2008

Two Davids on One Goliath

I've devoted this week's blog entries to an in-depth look at the Indiana Jones mythos, and that means that some pretty big pop cultural events have gone by uncommented upon by me. Horrors! If a tree falls in the forest and I don't comment upon it, does it really have any meaning?

Well, yeah. But that has nothing to do with "American Idol."

As everyone from Harrison Ford on down knows by now, David Cook defeated David Archuleta in the "Idol" finale this past Wednesday in an upset of every kind except talent. Cook is so clearly more talented than Li'l David that I figured the big guy didn't have a chance. After all, since when does talent have anything to do with "American Idol?"

It should be noted that this final shook down exactly as predicted by Pop Culture America contributor and occasional co-host "Uncle" Marty Selgrad, who said that Cook woud defeat Archuleta "if there's any justice in the world."

Since when does justice have anything to do with "American Idol?" Since now, I guess.

My own predicted winner, Brooke White was shown the door after barely scraping her way into the top five. After some stellar performances, including a rather splendid "Let It Be" during one of the show's two Beatle weeks, I thought she could get through on a combo of good looks, wholesomeness and (yes) talent. But right after I stated my pick on the show, she bobbled a Police song. Then she had to stop and start on some Andrew Lloyd Webber drivel and one week later she was gone. I jinxed her. Sorry Brookie.

As for the finale, it was the usual overblown marketing synergy-fest. Here's Donna Summer! Buy her new album! Here's Bryan Adams! New album available soon! Here's Mike Myers! Go see his movie in a month! Here are Robert Downey Jr., Ben Stiller and Jack Black! Say, they're all in Tropic Thunder, due in theaters on August 15! What are the odds! One day, all entertainment will be nothing but infomercials for other entertainment infomercials. That day is last week Friday.

But back to the competition. After a performance night on Tuesday where Cook thoroughly outsang Archuleta, like usual, the judges, especially Simon, all but packed Big David's suitcase and bought him a bus ticket back to Kansas City. So blatant was the bias that Simon Cowell -- of all people -- felt the need to apologize for it the following evening. Perhaps he had seen the results.

Some have chalked this up to some sort of diabolically clever reverse psychology strategy on the "Idol" producers' part, but I don't think so. I think that given the choice between the two Davids, they would rather be in business with the easily led and molded 17 year old, rather than the (slightly) more creative older contestant. Yes, even when the 17 year old has a stage father so meddlesome, the producers reportedly felt the need to banish him, first from the backstage area, then later from the studio entirely.

So now David Cook gets the benefit/detriment of having all the "Idol" machinery behind him for the (second) launch of his singing career. Had he come in third or fourth, I could have seen him with a career not unlike that of former "Idol" contestant (and fourth-place finisher) Chris Daughtry, making bland arena rock and far outselling the man who defeated him, Taylor Hicks. But now, he's going to receive all the micro-managing that drove Kelly Clarkson nuts. Good luck to him.

As for Archuleta, he'll be squinting his way through some feel-good pabulum at a theme park near you any day now. You can tell him from the other animatronic squirrels because he's the one with an overbearing stage father.

Can't wait for Season Eight!

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