The Uncool, Undeniable Appeal Of ‘ America’s Got Talent ’
Prestige TV this is not, but we’re eating it up. We probably weren’t using the word “viral” to describe the skyrocket success of odd, mesmerizing one-off moments from television in 2003 but it’s safe to say that the most-watched clips from reality competition shows looked significantly different from the ones widely shared on social networks today. That was the year William Hung, a civil engineering student at UC Berkeley carved out his legacy in pop culture with an off-key, humorless rendition of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” for the judges of “American Idol”. He was not admitted through to the next round as judge Simon Cowell, known for his straight shooting, simply said, “You can’t sing, you can’t dance, so what do you want me to say?” but a legion of fans who loved him simply for his outright terrible audition grew around him. Hung made the late-night rounds, earned a meager record deal and ensured no one could ever think of “She Bangs” in the same way again.
It’s easy to recall friends saying their favorite part of the subsequent “Idol” seasons were the cringe-y auditions; small-screen-watchers loved to lampoon the poor souls who put themselves up for judgment on national television. Fourteen years later, primetime on basic cable is no longer the only place to watch human foibles unfold in real time. Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, even Musical.ly, the app that’s impossible for anyone born before the year 2000 to understand, there’s no shortage of hours of dumb stunts, terrible singing or ill-advised “pranks” for those seeking it out. Is that why, when looking at the viral moments in the early episodes of “America’s Got Talent” Season 12, stories of unexpected talent, early mastery, and overcoming obstacles are the ones that stand out? Moreover, in a year marked by unprecedented political divides and large-scale scandals, is the happy innocence of dance-partner children, a chicken who can peck “America the Beautiful” and a Pierrot-esque clown who can belt out “Chandelier” the antidote?
This trend seems to have begun in earnest one year ago. Season 11 of “America’s Got Talent” premiered in a nation that was no less divided than it is today, exhausted from and glued to the nonstop election cycle in equal turns. The premiere hit a ratings high for the show, nabbing the kind of audience numbers (12.6 million) it hadn’t seen since its Season 6 finale. That momentum, likely boosted by the appearance of the charming, gifted, ukulele-toting 12-year-old Grace VanderWaal, carried through to the season finale. VanderWaal took home the top prize and the competition show earned its most watched finale in five years with 14.4 million viewers tuning in. The Google search trends for the program show a predictable spike each time the show is on the air, reached a new high with VanderWaal’s win. “America’s Got Talent,” on its face, is not a “cool” show. It’s wholesome and family-friendly to its core; its variety of acts, good and bad, dates back to programs like “The Gong Show.” Prestige TV it is not. Goofy acts abound. And yet the emotional stock is undeniable. Try sitting through the audition of Mandy Harvey, a deaf musician who re-learned how to sing through muscle memory and self-trust, as she expertly belted her way through an original tune, without crying.
People Still Have A Fascination With And Admiration For, People Who “Have The Balls” To Get Up There And Perform: Good Or Bad
Susan Z’s Conclusion:
Amid all the negative news of violence and despair being thrown at us every day and night, people are looking for just plain ole’ feel good TV. “America’s Got Talent” gives that.
Princess of Cups:
This is about young energy and the innocence of the inner child wanting to just feel good again, even if just for a short time. I believe this card supports my above-mentioned statement.
Queen of Pentacles: Inverted (Upside Down)
This is a woman that status is important and a desire to be of service. Since pulled inverted, this may represent a woman who is the brainchild behind the success of the show and understands “uncool mass appeal of the TV audience.
King of Pentacles Inverted
This is a man who is successful and values money and material possessions. I would say this is Cowell’s personality. Since drawn inverted, I feel he is perfectly fine with the “big joke” as long as it is filling his bank account.
Susan Z Rich is an emotional addiction counselor, spiritual intuitive and holistic therapist. She counsels others to see life in a more positive way and teaches personal accountability for life choices. She is also the author of several children’s books and Soul Windows…Secrets From The Divine. (life cycles) Learn more at her website: www.szrwhitewings.com