3/1/06

keeping it real: what exactly does it mean ?


"American Idol" is about to sweep away the nation and yes, I am totally indulging in it. ( No shame here, I know you are watching and loving it too). I probably should turn away and be more productive with my time ( I am blogging at 1 am who am I kidding ? ) but the reason you and I watch is that there is something compelling about such a simple concept: People try to win you over with a song and a dance and you decide if you like for reasons that matters only to you. ( "he/she seems nice" seems to be the most common reason, so much for the singing).
It is also intriguing because of the social issues it reveals . How big of a factor is race or demeanor in the contest; and how the contestants will fit the stereotype we came to expect or support. The judges' behavior is what really amazes me. They are the one most concerned about fitting into their public persona. Paula is tring to be nice but still be credible as a judge, Simon has to be the one with the most articulate and critical point and Randy has to appease to his fanbase.
Now what would happen if Randy would quit saying: " you did our thing, dawg" or " I did not feel it tonight, man". I probably would be shocked and a little dissapointed. Why ? Because my first reaction would be that he is straying away from his demographic and try to be someone else. aka he is not " keeping it real" anymore.
That is a bit sad because we tend to feel more comfortable when someone behaves as is expected and stay true to his roots. Where is the threat in Randy just saying: "I did not like it "? In other words, why would a community want to identify itself with cliches and catch-phrases?
I believe a culture draw its strength in its flexibility. The moment we outgrow our needs for obvious benchmarks as speech pattern or traditional daily routine is the mark of a mature culture. The only tradition worth keeping is the one that generate productive results and better quality of life. If "keeping it real" allows the black community to generate more jobs and nurture the children, then I am all for Randy and his dawg pound, keep them coming. I am not so sure this is the end it achieves though. The recurrent cliches make him sound both contrived and foolish . Not really the kind of way you want to represent your community.

1 comment:

  1. What an elaborate post about American Idol! It's actually the only reality show that I have watched for more than 5 minutes, mainly because the contestants are too hilarious.
    But don't you also think that Randy keeps his routine of "keep it real" and "dawg", because that is what's expected of him?

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