For those of you not watching America's Got Talent this season, contestant Kaitlyn Maher is an adorable, plucky 4-year-old girl. She sings pretty well for a 4-year-old. But the key part of that phrase is FOR A 4-YEAR-OLD. Her very young and raw talent just is not up to par with that of the older, more seasoned finalists (including some older children in familial bands like the Wright Kids and the Taubl Family). She has absolutely no business being on this show, a show that will award a $1 million contract for a full-time Las Vegas revue to its winner--presumably an adult winner capable of handling that much income, a grueling weekly performance schedule, and fast-lane life in Sin City. This little tot isn't even old enough to go to the bathroom by herself. How in the world is she supposed to put on a 90-minute Vegas show night after night if she actually wins this thing?
Furthermore, would anyone REALLY want to see Kaitlyn perform for 90 minutes, unless they were blood-related to her? Yeah, sure, Kaitlyn is cute. Like, fuzzy-baby-chick cute. So cute it's almost painful to look at her too long, with her missing teeth and askew hair bows and princess party dresses and Shirley Temple-esque chubby-cheeks. Probably the only reason she's made it this far, all the way to the top 20, is because she is cute. But can cuteness ultimately sustain a full-length Vegas show? I think not. Her schtick would get old (no pun intended) after about seven minutes.
And on that note, what will happen when she's not cute anymore? Every kid, no matter adorable she is at age 4, goes through a dreaded awkward stage. So if Kaitlyn wins America's Got Talent now, will she eventually lose her Vegas contract when she inevitably suffers from hormonal teenage acne that not even the strongest dose of ProActiv can cure?
Simply put, Kaitlyn Maher does not belong on America's Got Talent. Not YET, anyway. She should have never been selected for the top 40, and the viewing public should not have voted her through to the top 20 this week. And if she wins this competition, it will ruin not only this entire show but, much more importantly, her entire life. Because whether or not Kaitlyn has coasted through on cuteness or on actual talent so far, the main point is: It's cruel to keep her in this competition at this point.
See, while Kaitlyn seemed to enjoy performing on America's Got Talent at first--as she was oohed and ahhed and fussed over by the smitten judges and equally adoring live audience--now that the show has moved on to the stiff-competition round, she no longer seems to be having very much fun. Last night as she stood onstage next to scary, facially pierced firebreather Flambeaux awaiting her fate, she looked positively deer-in-headlights terrified, on the verge of tears, and utterly confused. It actually hurt me to watch her suffer:
Looking at Kaitlyn's frozen face of fear, it was hard for me to believe that the bright idea to audition for this show sprang from her 4-year-old brain. This girl is clearly not ready for prime time. She should have waited to audition for America's Got Talent season 16. Or, more, specifically, her parents should have waited before they dragged her to the auditions.
Anyway, things will only get tougher for Kaitlyn if she advances to the top 10. Or, especially, if she wins. She'll end up like Michael Jackson--who started singing as a toddler, was consequently robbed of his entire childhood, and now 45 or so years later is a baby-dangling wackjob shut-in with a chemically burned face and chimpanzees for friends. Or maybe Kaitlyn will become the next Britney Spears, shaving off her cute curly locks and forgetting to wear panties under her party dresses 20 years from now. Really, the best poor little Kaitlyn can hope for is to end up on VH1's "Celebreality" programming grid 30 years from now, with her own Breaking Bonaduce-style reality show chronicling her deeply ingrained emotional problems after growing up on television and in Vegas under the guidance of pushy stage parents.
For all these reasons, I say put Kaitlyn AND America's Got Talent viewers out of their misery. Let Kaitlyn go home and sing for FUN--to Kidz Bop albums or to Barney episodes or in school plays or whatever--for at least a few more years. Let whatever talent she has (and it's difficult to discern how much talent she really does have, at her tender age) develop for another decade or so. And then let KAITLYN decide if a career in music, on television, or in Las Vegas is something she wants to pursue. She may not be as cute and girly by then, but she'll be more ready for her close-up all the same.
- Kaitlyn Maher