December Thoughts: Part 2

from Nick Suss

Dec. 3, 2015, noon

I've been thinking about American Idol recently.

Don't get me wrong. I haven't been thinking about watching American Idol again. I, as did most sane people, stopped watching that show a couple of years ago when Simon left. But I saw a commercial last week about how American Idol is ending and for some reason that struck a chord with me. I wasn't sad. I wasn't nostalgic. It just seemed like something that would always be there. And this brought up a question I've been pondering:

Is it possible to miss something you abandoned a long time ago?

As I said, I stopped watching American Idol around my freshman year of high school or thereabouts. I'm not exactly sure when I stopped altogether. But that's when it stopped being an every week thing. But before that, as I assume was true of a lot of kids who grew up when I did, a large chunk of my memories relate to American Idol.

It was the show that was so culturally relevant that my parents let me stay up past my bedtime whenever it was on. It was the show that made it possible for my mom, my sister and I to listen to a Kelly Clarkson CD in the car on the way to elementary school. It was the show that for some reason made girls in my middle school so obsessive that they would make t-shirts emblazoned with "VOTE FOR BLAKE" across the fronts and wear them to school on days they thought Blake Lewis was in danger of being eliminated. (Remember Blake Lewis? That was a thing.)

But like all things that were awesome, at some point they became less awesome. And where there Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood or Chris Daughtry or William Hung, there eventually started to be fewer transcendent superstars. And no degree of Adam Lambert screams could draw me back. I was done.

But really none of this helps answer the question. Why am I sad about American Idol ending when I have no plans on watching it ever again? That's hard to say. I know it's not because the show had some profound influence on the way I decided to live my life. But by the converse, I don't know how I would've lived my life without it. It was the single most culturally relevant pop culture phenomenon of my lifetime. It's the only TV show that I've never met a single person who hasn't watched at least one episode of it. And if I do meet someone who hasn't, I certainly won't trust them.

It's just like with Kobe Bryant retiring. I don't have this connection to Kobe. But the way the world works in my understanding involves Kobe playing basketball. Just as it involves American Idol being on television. I remember a time before American Idol was on television. But I don't remember television before American Idol.

So that was a ramble. Sorry if you read it. Tell me what productive thing this distracted you from in the comments.


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