Sitting and relaxing lazily this Sunday afternoon, reclining in my sofa without a care in the world; I’m watching SA Idols and I’m thinking…wow fame and success are two of the most misunderstood words in the entertainment industry. The competition is winding down to top 4 this season, and the countdown is speeding down to one; soon there’ll be lots and lots of tears from parents who believe their “talented” kids were short-changed! Believe me I’m no fan to Idols, I just bump into the programme since members of my family like the show; I cannot make similar claim when it comes to my position. I am forever amazed at how the finalists make similar assertion and agree unanimously, when it comes to one’s success, to always believe in one’s dream; no matter what happens or whatever obstacles may lie on their way! Like Cindarella in the midnight hour, they can’t believe how their simple lives have turned over night into this “accentuated celebrity” status; right before their eyes and on Live TV!! The whole country watching, their families, friends, colleagues, neighbours and foes. It can’t be real….and…suddenly.
The top finalists begin to become occupied with themselves in their thoughts and in their dreams, out of billions of world’s population, they see nobody else but themselves; sitting on top of the world and having everyone feeding off their superstarred hands! What ifs and If I only coulds, give them sleepless nights…pressure from their families and well-wishers mount day by day, and the burden gets heavier for their fragile shoulders. And, as if this was not enough, they still have to face their determined panel of judges who are paid thousands of rands to be mean and rough, as rough can be during each episode of their grilling. Not forgetting the sometimes hostile and nerve-wrecking crowds; these guys are still expected to show up with a smile and without a single pinch of stage fright or jittering! As finalists, like all mortals, the would-be-idols can only affix their eyes on the big prize, celebrity status, loaded first prize and a big recording contract…it’s a dream startup even some of them would oblige to agree that they have never ever had a dream like this even in their early childhood. Wow! If there’s any setup in life to catapult one into super stardom and celebrity success…set me up. Pick Me!!
I’m not sure when did SA Idols begin, I stand corrected, it could be a decade since the first Idols were held in this country. Ever since the first day, Idols were introduced and founded in America; the success rate of yesteryear Idols winners in the real world, real markert, can never be equated with the hype that preceeds every new season; it’s almost like people have never seen an episode before. Nobody cares to scroll back five or ten years back and take inventory of the trail of broken hearts and deferred dreams Idols Promise leaves behind its wake of fame. Idols comes to town with much applomb and such energy, mesmerising all the simple minds (contestants) and leaving them in a dizzy height; with no guarantee to bring them back to their natural simple and usual selves. This to me as a sensitive viewer, to put it mildly: is a mirage of a forever drifting illusion…Idols bring the dream of becoming an overnight superstar so close, the finalists could almost hug their own dream as one hugs themselves in front of a mirror! Imagine a dazed, sun-scorched tired man, dragging his dehydrated body in a simmering hot desert…from a distant over some desert dunes, sees something that appears like a pool of water. He runs towards this pool with all of his might and, ready to plunge himself into this amazing find, illusive waterhole…and, seconds later, splash and thuds, he lands heavily face first into hot desert sands….what did he see? A mirage, illusion of what he was dreaming for… to him, water everywhere becomes water nowhere!
In my own statistics (no questions asked please), yester year winners of the past decade hardly amounts for a rickety and wobbly 1% in the whole entertainment music industry; when it comes to real substantive success! We can hardly see no former Idol winner standing or still standing, with the same amount of aplomb and sheer celibrity bravado with which they were originally launched paded; say, going back at least five years back! Recording companies have had their cuts from the guaranteed capital, delivered on their tendered promise by releasing and cutting the first CD for the winners. They all look forward to visit local music stores to hear the ching ching from all the cash registers dishing out their on-demand albums, after all, failure is no option here; the noble judges have confirmed their “talented chosen ones” and the public voted with their feet of approval…what else there is to do? The market has been tested through and through and made ready to slash their hard-earned money on this guaranteed product: The Idol Winner…
During the campaign stages, the would-be Idols finalists have the most amazing support from the public, the event organisers who even drive them around in limos, back to their humble neighbourhood and present them as superstars who have seen better days of success. Suddenly, everyone wants to touch them and pose with them for pictures…they almost get the same celibrity status like the now forgotten kids from the dot com millionairs of year 2000 and earlier. No hard work required, just horn your voice and be ready to perform and, if you win, you’ll be riding on the wave of success for the rest of your life. Success Guaranteed! How convenient?
When it comes to reality, the market decides otherwise and always to the contrary, suddenly, the once most loved Idol cannot fathom what really went wrong; when everything was looking bright, his/her first debut album never takes off the shelves..despite all the media and TV adverts that keep reminding the people (Idols fanatical crowds) not to forget the promise to buy their music in order to make the Idol’s dream come true…Can you hear the ching ching from the tills rolling out the amazing CD release of the most talked about Idol winner, after all, everybody knows this guaranteed product, please people don’t be jealous now…buy this crap CD! I don’t know about anybody else, but as for me, myself and I, I choose to stick to my Barry White, my Stimela, my Soul Brothers, my Black Mambazo, my Zahara, my DeLazy, etc, but Idols! For the Idol Winner, success remains only a mirage of drifting illusion…Talent can never be bought nor success guaranteed in real life and in real world, because most people tend to think otherewise and carefuly when it comes down to the wire of spending their hard-earned rand on hyped Idols!