American Idol: Which Judge Are You?

Simon, Paula, Randy.

Each of the American Idol judges has an idiosyncratic approach to critiquing the contestants.

Let's start with Randy.

Randy — Randy likes to remind both the contestants and the audience of his stature as a producer/musician. Expertise is important, but in telling the contestant that they weren't as good as Mariah, Whitney et al. all of whom he's played with, the critique tends to be more about Randy than the contestant.

Paula — Paula gives compliments, lots of them. But because her need to be liked is so palpable, she seems to give to get. This only serves to further discount her already discounted opinion — because she's a woman we expect her to say something nice. Not to mention her often muddled thoughts.


Simon — Simon gives it to the contestants straight up. They know it and we know it and so we trust and value his opinion. Could he be more kind? Absolutely. Is he any less self-interested than Paula or Randy? Probably not.

But in this single moment — when the judges must give feedback to the contestants — providing his honest opinion, and thus maintaining his integrity supersedes asserting his stature or being loved. Ironically, he has become the ‘biggest hitter' and most ‘beloved' of the three.

I know that it is unfair to reduce people to a single trait or characteristic, but if we consider these judges as archetypes, here's the question:

When our husband, daughter, son, friends, co-workers share their dreams with us, haven't they figuratively just sung, and are now waiting for our critique?

If they are dreaming big, do we applaud them? Or do we tell them them we're not sure that they can realize their goal so as to shore up our own self-esteem? Regardless of why we discourage them, is our commentary more about us than them?

Or, are we so eager to be loved, especially as parents, that we aren't willing to be honest. And thus, over time, we are eroding the value of our opinion? For women, finding the balance between being supportive and ‘keeping it real' is especially difficult.

Or do we honor others by giving our honest assessment? With love, mind you — Simon could use a little more love.

There's probably a bit of Randy, Paula and Simon in all of us, depending on who we're interacting with, how we're feeling about ourselves on a particular day, but in general, who do we need more of?

And who do you need more of in your life?


Related Posts:
Why We Love American Idol
Rachel, Leah and ‘So You Think You Can Dance?'
Et tu, Whitney?
Tie-Dye, Daughters and Dreams

Finding Our Reality in Reality TV

Unlike American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, America's Got Talent opens up auditions to a broad array of talent, from animal trainers to stilt walkers, and welcomes both solo acts and ensembles.

But here's what's interesting.

All four finalists are solo acts.


All four are singers.


Despite a wide variety of acts that the judges purposely placed in the top twenty — the voting/dialing/push-buttoning audience has chosen a fairly homogeneous group of finalists — four singing soloists.

While it is probably true that American Idol has influenced how we vote, there is something much larger at play with America's Got Talent, and all reality TV.

Each is a hero's journey. Each involves thousands hoping to be called to adventure. And as we watch, and participate by voting, we begin to feel that we are on the journey as well.

But we can't be on the journey, unless we can identify with the contestants, and so we find ourselves drawn to and voting for solo acts, rather than ensembles, to people who talk/sing/beat box to us, rather than those who don't. When the contestants speak to us, we can connect with them, and find our voice, even as they find theirs.

We've talked about this before, so now let's analyze the idea further.

Will you quickly listen to the YouTube clips of the four finalists for America's Got Talent?

Who do you identify with?

Terry Fator, Butterscotch, Cas Haley or Julienne Irwin?


I identify with Terry Fator.

And I'll tell you why, as soon as I ask you this question — When I say that I identify with him, does that mean that I want to become a ventriloquist, that I want to see him perform live, or join his fan club?


But because I want to be the hero of my story — and for you to be the hero of yours — rather than focusing on the who, I want to focus on the specifics of the why.

And, my gander of a guess is this.

Terry Fator is a man who's been perfecting his craft for decades, laboring in obscurity, wondering on many occasions if he shouldn't just pack up his puppets and go home.

I too sometimes feel that I work very, very hard at whatever I'm working on, and it isn't necessarily acknowledged or valued. And I too want to pack up my puppets, as it were, and go home.

But, Terry Fator didn't pack up and go home. And given how very capable and competent he is, how happy we are that he didn't.

Which is when I begin to wonder — am I — are you — competent and capable too? Far more than we know?

And with that wondering comes a slice of hope.

Delicious and delightful hope.

Who do you admire at the moment? Why?

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