This query is for anyone familiar with the show American Idol. I am referring to the glass-cracking efforts of the first rounders. My question is: Why is it and how is it that they have come to believe they can sing? Please feel free to take this question in any and every direction you all see fit. I am interested in the mechanism of self-deception in general.
I'm not completely sure, but, I have an idea.
We don't really get a true understanding of how others perceive our performing abilities until we are able to really see a recording of ourselves performing. We perform for family and friends, or they hear us perform here and there around the house, etc., and we get the "okay" from them that we can go ahead and try to do this elsewhere. They don't want to discourage us, so we make attempts. It's just that most people who truly are great performers have started much, much earlier, and on a much smaller scale than national/international TV. So it's a perception problem of that sort, I think.
Good Day Daniel Carter
Its interesting that you mention how we're not really to get a sense of our performing skill if and until we "see a recording of ourselves performing." I wonder if you ever heard of a much crueler version of Idol, that was on television for a while. It was called Pop Star (the former rapper Tone Loc was one of the judges) and the idea was to take the really bad singers, the William Hung's of the world and cheer them on, promote them, move them on; then they would deliberately boo off the stage the good singers, the Kelly Clarksons of the world.
What they wanted to do was have a grand finale performance of all these glass-cracking performers in the hope that they would figure out how awful they were as they sang together. I didn't have the stomach to watch the show and see how things turned out.
Anyway, What do you think was more cruel: the family and friends of these people allowing them to deceive themselves or Pop Star?
A number of reasons.
1. The people showing up have already put themselves out on the line once during the huge stadium auditions we aren't privvy to. They have been told by someone there they are good enough to go onto the next round, raising their hopes.
2. They have had very successful outings to the kareoke night and their drunken strangers have advised them to "totally" go onto American Idol.
3. The real people being deluded are us. Most of these people are probably well aware they're not good and are more interested in becoming professional reality show contestants and showing off their personality.
4. They are mentally ill. Congratulations, we've been goaded into laughing at someone with a medical problem.
Good Day Len Cannon
While I don't completely discount point #4, point #3 interests me most. You say that the real people being deluded are us, the general population; and that these glass-shattering "singers" know that are no good.
It would seem, from your point of view, that these folks are taking way too literally, that old saying about the whole world being a stage. Do you think that we, the public, are fooled into allowing them to make a living being awful?
What I am asking is: To what extent do you think that modern technology, YouTube and so forth, allows say, the William Hungs of the world ("She bangs") to either: A) continue the self delusion (I know you said you don't think they're necessarily self-deluded); or B) take the easy way out, so to speak (Is it possible they don't really like working for a living that much?).
It's funny I used this as an example in a post about pursuing dreams. I don't know if it's self deception or if these people actually hear something that no one else can! Maybe it is just a pure hunger to fulfill their dreams that prevents them from hearing the sad reality, that they lack any talent what so ever, or maybe their is the hope that even without talent they may be able to capture a few moments of fame like Kevin Hung did. Still, you gotta give them credit for trying!
Good Day Leeberttea
Your point about pursuing dreams interests me. I am also intrigued about your observation about how these glass-shattering singers will settle for infamy if they cannot have true fame - that is how I interpret you statement that "maybe their hope is that even without talent they may be able to capture a few moments of fame like Kevin Hung (wasn't his name William?) did."
Do you think that's true? Are we a culture that either confuses infamy with fame; or don't care and will take either one?
One more point. Are you familiar with the 1950 play Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller? If so, do your remember Willie Loman, the failed salesman? How would you compare Willie Loman to Kevin (or William?) Hung?
Yes I think many people would settle for infamy if they couldn't obtain fame. Indeed that worked out for Hung as he was able to capitalize on his lack of talent. Well I wouldn't call Loman a failed salesman, he did make a living even if he struggled to do so, but he never reached the greatness that he desired where as Hung has at least reached recognition and capitalized on it even though he lacks the talent to be even mediocre.
Do you think we, as a culture, have lost a true understanding of the difference between infamy and fame? Yes, many people probably settle for one if they can't have the other. Oh and that brings to mind another question.
But first, Willie Loman did not actually make a living as salesman, except in the early years through sheer determination. But remember that scene when Willie comes back from Boston, and joins his family in the backyard, and his sons, Hap and Biff (the football star) are there with their friends from school? This is a flashback scene.
After Willie does his blustering about how he "knocked them dead," here, there, and everywhere he went in New England, and the boys scatter, he tells his wife, Linda, the truth.
At first he had given a false figure of what he made on his trip. Then with Linda, he told the truth and the fiugre was substantially lower. Furthermore, he lamented the fact that he has a much harder time of it than other men, who "seem to do it easier." Willie had to "be at it ten, twelve hours a day," with little to show for it.
Moreover, later in the play (Linda has a confrontation with Biff and Hap about this, in part) we learn that Willie Loman has been "borrowing" two hundred dollars a week from "Charlie and pretending to me its his pay," for quite some time. He had been taken off commission by the Wagner Corporation, who didn't think his skill was worth paying for.
In addition to this, Willie Loman is what is called an unreliable narrator. We have to take what he says with a grain of salt. His memories about his prowess as a salesman can't be trusted. This came out when Willie went down to ask his boss at the Wagner Corporation for a transfer to the New York office, so he wouldn't have to travel any longer.
Anyway, back to fame and infamy. Prostitution. I'm talking about those people who go into the field voluntarily, who are not coerced - indeed, some of thos people come from nice, middle or upper middle class backgrounds, they are educated, and so forth. Sometimes we see them on talk shows -- these are women we would expect to be making decisions in a boardrooms.
Why have they chosen this infamy over fame? Do you know the difference, do you think, despite their education? Do they care?
I think self-deception issues stem from childhood when nobody wants to destroy a childs dream or self-esteem. Then the problem becomes bigger and bigger as this child is no longer a child yet thinks they are much more capable than they really are.
Good Evening Rafini
Thank you for joining our forum. You are welcome here. So, you believe that self-deception (of the catastrophic type we are talking about? which can make a no-talent, glass-cracking screecher have the nerve to appear on American Idol?) can stem from childhood, where the child finds himself a part of an extraordinarily warm and supportive, self-esteem (inflating?), constantly self validating institutional structure of family, friends, and relatives, that never, ever manages to evaluate him critically and honestly, as well as lovingly?
You know, its funny, I talked about this a litte - but in class terms - in an article called "They Live in a World of Their Own." Anyway, Rafini, do you think that family structures that function this way are, on one level, dysfunctional family systems?
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