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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Today's news

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2009 at 5:39 AM

What the heck? The top of the NY Times front doesn't seem to have a word about Kris Allen's victory in American Idol.

Oh, sure, there's a report about the Pentagon's effort to massage numbers on Guantanamo prisoner recidivism to build a Fort Chaffee-style backlash to housing some prisoners on U.S. soil. (Ever checked the recidivism rate down at Tucker Max?) Dead-broke California gets a look. A plot to bomb Bronx synagogues and shoot down military planes was reported. At least 21 dead and 50 wounded in Iraq bombings.

But what about Kris Allen? No wonder newspapers are dying.

Just funning. Even the NY Times has the story on our favorite son, though it  is way down at the bottom of the home page, a feature that includes this wide-eyed Fox photo of the winner. But wouldn't you know, the elitist rag went all geopolitical on us.

America chose sweetness over sizzle, small-town reticence over Vegas swagger, or as Ryan Seacrest put it, the guy next door over “the guyliner.”

It’s possible that “American Idol” viewers’ selection of Kris Allen over Adam Lambert says something about the mood and mores of the country, that viewers are too conformist to anoint a sassy, androgynous individualist. Then again, maybe not: Mr. Allen’s victory may merely reflect the voters’ conventional taste in pop music.

The choice of Mr. Allen, revealed during the two-hour finale on Fox on Wednesday night, wasn’t a breakthrough decision, even if a record 100 million votes were cast. The winsome Mr. Allen sings well, but he sounds like a lot of other good singers. Mr. Lambert, who tops his singing with a soulful screech somewhere between the blues and a smoke alarm, was like no one else.

But it isn’t necessary to seek deeper meaning in the finale; it’s the “American Idol” franchise itself that best speaks to the state of the nation.

“American Idol” matters not just as a pop culture phenomenon, but as an institution that works — with scary efficiency — at a time when so many other American enterprises seem flawed or imperiled. It stands out this season in particular: “American Idol” is a money-making machine in the middle of a worldwide recession, an old-fashioned must-see television hit at a time when the Internet and cable have eaten away at the networks’ hegemony.

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