Monday, March 7, 2011

Life Lessons a' la American Idol

Okay, so I got sucked into American Idol this season. I haven't watched it since Kelly Clarkson won....I'm just too much of a bleeding heart boob. Watching Simon tear apart those poor kids (even when they really didn't sing well) just leaves me a blubbering pile of broken-hearted goo. So I steer clear.


My mom was staying with me for a few weeks and I started watching it one night with her. It was group night, where the contestants get together in groups and plan a little performance. And there was this kid, a sweet, very young kid, who was kicked out of his group by an overzealous groupmate because he didn't go with the vibe of the group (or something along those lines).

The real problem....the kid had the voice, but not the looks. And no matter what the other guy said, everyone knew the reason why the sweet little 15 year old was asked to leave the group. Had the kid not been able to sing, I would have been sad for him but probably understood. If the contestants were being judged as a group, I might have understood. But while they were judged on stuff like their harmonies, at the end of the day, they were judged on their individual performances. The sweet kid wouldn't have messed up the groups vocals; he has a wonderful voice. So....yeah....there you have it.

And yes....I was a total crying, slobbering mess. My mom suggested therapy :D But I had to keep watching every week to find out what happened to these two.

They both made it to the next round. I knew the sweet kid wouldn't make it further than that. He really has a beautiful voice, but it needs a few more years to mature. And as much as I hated to admit it, the jerk guy can really sing. Like REALLY. An amazing voice.  He made it to the top 24. The sweet kid did not. And going on voice alone, the jerk guy deserved to be in the finalists.

However.....I never in a million years would have ever voted for him because of what he did to the sweet kid on group night.

And apparently I'm not the only one. He didn't make it into the top 10. And the judges didn't give him a chance for a Wild Card slot.

Here's the thing that I think some of the contestants may not have realized. Image DOES mean a lot in a business where you depend on your audience for success. What you do, what you say, how you all matters. People are watching you, the people who will vote for you or buy your album, or see your movie, or read your book. And fair or not, their opinion of you and your work will be swayed by your actions.

Now, you might have the talent to get you pretty far. But bottom line, if your audience doesn't like or respect you as a person, it's going to hurt you in the long run.

So, what can we as writers learn from the poor guy who let his ambition get ahead of his common decency?

Don't burn bridges. Ever. Do what you need to do to succeed...but not at the expense of others. Pay it forward, don't slap them back. If you get a bad review, thank the reviewer for the time they took from their lives to read your book and move on. A simple "I'm sorry you feel that way but thank you for your time" and leave it at that. A rejection? Take the letter out and burn it if you want, but please refrain from firing back a hateful email to the poor agent. People are entitled to their opinions and unfortunately those opinions are not always going to be in our favor.

This doesn't mean you have to agree to crazy requests, spend all your time helping others at the expense of your own work, or put yourself in situations you don't want to be in. But be kind and professional no matter what the occasion.

Just remember, in businesses such as ours, talent is only a small percentage of what will make us succeed.
When it comes to entertainment, whether it be music, movies, or books, people have a LOT of choice in who they will spend their time with. Don't make it any easier for them to pass you over for the next guy. :)


Laura Pauling said...

So very well said! I agree that the dude with the glasses lost votes over ditching the sweet teen! So many lessons to learn from Idol!

Misha Gerrick said...

So true! Image is about more than looks and talent. It's about how people perceive you.

And that's where the problems sometimes occur.


Anonymous said...

Everything you just said, Michelle. Everything you just said.

Right. On.

Corey Schwartz said...

Ah, nothing better than an AI analogy post! :)

Matthew MacNish said...

Excellent post. Words to live by, really.

Jamie Grey said...

I started watching AI again this season too! And you're exactly right. Talent isn't always enough to make it - you need to have the professionalism and kindness to take it to the next level.

Great post!

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

You make a great point, Michelle. We have to remember that looking out for each is always going to be more beneficial than stepping on other people's toes! (And my kids were totally rooting for that 15 year-old!)

Rachelle Christensen said...

Excellent points made and love the Idol illustration. I saw that cute kid and thought the same thing. You never know how things are going to affect you in the future, so I love your advice.

Talli Roland said...

Ah! That poor kid - I know exactly the one you're talking about. You're so right; it pays to be careful and NICE. It really ain't that hard!

Eric said...

Well stated, Michelle. I actually jumped (happily) off the AI train just before Simon exited the stage. I liked his commentary, because more often than not, he was accurate with his comments. Maybe not as tactful as some might like, but accurate. I can respect honesty, even in it's most brutal form.

But it's like you say, we don't have to be rude to people in the writing world either. We can still maintain a level of respectability while being honest with people. And if we're going to continue with a writing career, it behooves us to do so. Nice post!

Shari said...

Perfectly said. It's like Thumper said, "If you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nothin' at all." That goes for actions, too.

Liza said...

I am enjoying the kinder judging in AI this year...and I hated what happened to the 15-year-old (and he WILL be back, mark my words.) In truth though, last week, the guy who did make it bombed his song. He really did. If he hadn't, would America have voted from him? I don't know. I guess the point is that after he bombed, neither America, or the judges gave him another chance. You make a very good point here.

Unknown said...

How very true Michelle. I had someone who slashed my work to ribbons and questioned everything about my writing process. I simply picked up and moved on, did not comment, did not fire back, nothing. Was courteous in my email response and that was it. You never know who is going to read your words and it behooves us to always respond with due civility no matter what.