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American Idol: When Self-Esteem Is Not Enough

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

All right, American Idol: The Search For The Next Sanjaya started up this week, and though I could just write up the usual episode recap, I've decided to instead use this cyber-soapbox to get something off my chest. Something that needs to be said by someone other than Simon Cowell.

OK, here goes: We live in the era of too much self-esteem. See, for decades, various child psychologists, self-help gurus, well-meaning Learning Annex instructors, Dr. Phil, et al have cited low self-esteem as the root cause of all societal ills. "No one can love you until you love yourself," these American-dream-weavers boldly decreed. "You can do anything you set your mind to," they optimistically promised. "Nothing is impossible as long as you believe in yourself."

Well, after viewing the season 7 Idol premiere, I am here to say that this self-esteem stuff is a load of bunk.

It's this sort of thinking that's spawned a generation of Paris Hilton-worshipping, Bratz-emulating tweens who feel the need to advertise their imagined superiority by wearing T-shirts inappropriately emblazoned with words like "Hottie" and "Princess" and "Diva." And it's precisely this sort of thinking that's bred a nation of tone-deaf wannabes with inflated senses of entitlement and unwavering conviction that they're more talented than all four Beatles combined...all of 'em caterwauling Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love Of All" at American Idol auditions and taking the lyrics way too seriously.

Yep, this is because no one--not until Simon and Randy came along, at least--ever dared crush these kids' "self-esteem" by telling them the truth: that sometimes believing in yourself and never giving up simply is not enough. That sometimes giving up and moving on to Plan B is actually a pretty good idea, IF YOU CANNOT SING. And that sometimes, just sometimes, maybe you can love yourself just a wee bit too much.

This season, one of the Idol hopefuls, nine-months-pregnant Antoria Gillon, went into labor while waiting for her chance to sing. Naturally, she didn't let a little nuisance like contractions stop her from completing her (initially successful) audition, but eventually she was rushed off to the hospital to give birth to a bouncing baby boy that she christened Jamil Labarron Idol McCowan. (Yes, "Idol" is the child's middle name, right there on the birth certificate.) Now, congratulations are of course in order for Antoria and the first official Baby Idol. But I do hope that if little Jamil grows up with aspirations to be a singer like his mama--but he sounds like William Hung on a bad day--that Antoria will sit him down and, in a compassionately Paula Abdul-ish yet firm manner, let him know that music just ain't his forte. He'll appreciate her tough love later.

OK, do come back tomorrow for a more straight-ahead recap of night #2 of this week's double-whammy American Idol kickoff. I just felt this message needed to be conveyed, as some sort of public service. Because maybe if a few stage-parents of the next generation of Sanjayas read this, they won't squander thousands of dollars on singing lessons and cross-country Greyhound tickets to the American Idol season 20 auditions, just because they're afraid of wounding their untalented offspring's precious pride. 

Thanks for hearing me out...

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