At first it was like The Muppet Show on acid, with the most random celebrity stars showing up, complete with Miss Piggy herself. A truly awful celebrity video to Staying Alive had stars present and past, flying out of the "where are they now?" file and across the screen in short snippets. Images blew by like a smoke monster flashback scene from Lost. Terri Hatcher looking like a drunk vampire. Dr. Phil in all his bald wonder. Helen (gasp! my true idol, what is she doing there?) Mirren. Kirstie Alley dressed like a priest (really). The underemployed members from the cast of Friends. In Hollywood was it worse to be excluded from this freak show, or asked to join in?
As the show reached over-the-rainbow Star Wars Holiday Special levels of weirdness, the attemped charity tie-in kicked into full gear. Honestly, though their intentions may be good, I just don't get it. American Idol is supposed to be a mindless diversion and trying to make it meaningful just didn't work for me, especially a telethon grafted onto a supposed "results show." They'll probably raise a lot of money but the whole endeavor was ghoulish to me.
Simon and Ryan Seacrest visited dying AIDS victims in Africa, set to the soundrack of Grey's Anatomy. Paula Abdul wore a distracting pneumatic push-up corset and told us about illiterate families in Kentucky, where a success story is a kid whose favorite book is Captain Underpants.
Back to pop culture and corporate sponsorship, with the Idols singing a ridiculously immature version of Crazy Little Thing Called Love to shill for Ford. They should really have a Brady Bunch Kids-themed week because when the whole group sings together they come across as about as talented as the Bunch. Especially dressed in ugly matching white outfits. Come on, can't you see the Idols selling Ford's Gen X-targeted cars singing the automotive-themed classic Keep On? (Admit it, you know the words.)
This star-studded mess reached The Love Boat Gets Lost in the Bermuda Triangle and Finds The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island proportions when Celine Dion "transported back in time" to sing a duet with a reanimated digital Elvis.
This pop nightmare was melting my brain when the corporate sponsors were announced: Ford, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Con Agra Foods (makers of Reddi-Whip and Slim Jim), Exxon Mobil, News Corporation (owner of Fox News, The New York Post, MySpace and TV Guide, among others), Allstate and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Somehow this list of mega-corporations felt like the perfect scene-setter to explain the whole night. This well-intentioned but inane and disjointed spectacle was truly the mutated offspring of junk food, media conglomeration, big oil, and intellecutal monopolies.
I guess I'll go chug a Coke, put gas in my Land Rover, eat a Slim Jim and watch Fox News. Then all of this will probably start to make sense.