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 compliments. 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.
Unlike American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, America's Got Talent opens up auditions to a broad array of acts, from animal trainers to stilt walkers, welcoming solo acts and ensembles alike. But here's what's interesting. All four finalists, as you'll see in tonight's finale, are solo acts. And -- all four sing. Yup. Despite a wide variety of acts purposely selected by the judges for 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. We've talked about this before, so now let's analyze/probe a bit further.