Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Gotta work your jelly, work your jelly...

Well, the finale of The WB's Superstar USA was a complete disappointment. As I predicted, Jamie was the winner -- she wasn't the worst singer but she had the most hubris and was possibly the most entertaining. It started so well. They made Rosa, the girl who can't learn correct words, sing "Bootylicious," a song that makes no sense in any language (and I suspected for the first time that they're actually giving her bad lyric sheets, but it was still entertaining). Jamie and Mario both screamed their songs at the top of their lungs, then, as the final two, dueted on "(I've Had) The Time of My Life." I began to wonder for the first time since the beginning if the joke might be on us, since the song was meant to be spontaneous, but had obviously been rehearsed at least a little, and neither "singer" showed any signs of reading the words off of a teleprompter somewhere. I suppose they could have had them all rehearse it, but wouldn't it be obvious then that Mario, the only boy left, would be one of the finalists? Still, it was entertaining. I can't imagine a more mismatched pair of performers, singing a love duet but looking as though they'd never met (and allegedly having never heard each other sing).

But then it all went horribly wrong. Or rather, not wrong enough. After selecting Jamie, they showed the usual Idolish video montage, and watching Jamie watch herself, it seemed as if she knew something was up. Ooh, this would be good! But then when it came time to reveal the twist, Not Ryan Seacrest appeared to decide in mid-smackdown that it was all too mean, that he had to change his approach. He told Jamie how much the audience loved her, and the audience dutifully cheered. He then announced that the purpose of this show had not been to find the best singer in America. Yes, yes, good... The purpose of this show had been to prove that you didn't need to be a good singer to be a pop star in America, that it was equally about looks and spunk and being an "entertainer." Yeah, and Boy Meets Boy was a "social experiment!" The purpose of this show was to humiliate someone! Not to tell her she's pretty! Next came the real kicker: "Are you willing to work, to do what it takes, to become a pop star?" Well, DUH! Of course she is, if only to redeem herself after the national embarrassment of this show. So they gave her $100,000 (which she certainly deserves for being the butt of the joke, even if the joke wasn't as mean as I'd like) and a recording contract, which presumably comes with singing lessons. And Jamie, of course, was thrilled. I suspect she still didn't quite get it, since the blow was cushioned so spectacularly, but even if she did, her dream (if not of pop stardom, at least at a chance at it and cash) just came true anyway. Where's the mean in that?? And the judges, by far the best thing about the show, said nothing.

As a little coda, they showed the reveal of the twist to the other two finalists. This was done by an off-camera voice (not Not Ryan Seacrest) in the relative privacy of their dressing rooms. And the off-camera voice said, "We were actually looking for the worst singer in America." Yes! THIS is what needed to be said to Jamie! Because Mario and Rosa's reactions were entertaining, but not nearly as entertaining as they'd have been in stupid Jamie in front of all those people. Mario and Rosa were also given sizeable checks ("for being such a good sport"), which I was happy about. Mario then said in an interview that he was grateful to have had the chance to live out a dream, even if it was all fake. So Superstar was like fantasy camp? Okay, I'll buy it. It sure keeps me from feeling too bad for any of the contestants...except for they way they'll be mocked for the rest of their lives now. Well, except for the way no one watched this show but me.

Thank god Joe Schmo 2 begins tonight.

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