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The tone deaf wannabes, lend us your injured egos

by the staff

Is everybody else as insulted as we are?

To get on the same plane with us, so to speak, you would have had to watch last week’s installment of the country’s favorite talent search/humiliation parade ‘“American Idol,’” the one shot here in Greensboro.

For the most part we love the show around here, and we think it’s more than coincidence that two of the greatest talents the show has uncovered, Fantasia Barrino and Clay Aiken, are North Carolinians.

Ryan Seacrest, the show’s tiny host, did give props to the Old North State and to the South in general in the beginning of the episode. But from then on, the attitude of the ‘“AI’” crew towards the Gate City was, in our eyes, condescending.

‘“What happens when ‘Idol’ rolls into a small town like Greensboro?’” Seacrest asks, forgetting, or perhaps ignorant of, the fact that Greensboro proper boasts nearly a quarter million citizens. We have five colleges and universities in town, and a population that is reasonably educated and affluent. You can drive for a week without getting stuck behind a tractor in traffic and, last we checked, we have the same amenities as larger cities including breweries, big-box stores, independent theater, beaucoup art galleries and crappy chain restaurants. We even have our own big-time police scandal. Add a hookah bar and a tourist season and we’re Fort Lauderdale.

Greensboro may not be as bustling a metropolis as, say, Denver or Las Vegas, where ‘“AI’” also held contestant searches, but we’re hardly a ‘“small town.’”

Yet Seacrest persists in labeling us as one.

‘“Maybe we should have gone to a bigger city,’” he quips after a woman from High Point delivers a disturbing version of ‘“Over the Rainbow.’”

And though our numbers are small in comparison to San Francisco, another audition city, we provided a proportionally larger array of losers, stumblebums, wannabes and outright freaks that are the bread and butter of the early part of the season. Did you catch Rhonda Jones, the warbler with the pink cowboy hat whose voice was insulting even to the Backstreet Boys song she covered? How about Sammy Neighbors, the UNCG student whom judge Simon Cowell described as ‘“Sylvester Stallone’s younger sister’”? How about the foul-mouthed Ronetta Johnson, who made the trip from Charlotte but whom we claim as our own anyway? Are they freaky enough for you, Seacrest?

And Greensboro delivered on its legacy of talent, most notably Kellie Pickler from nearby Albemarle, who we believe should easily make the final ten.

So what’s with the ‘“small-town’” dis? After hearing Seacrest crack on our city no less that three times, we have to admit it started to sting a little.

Greensboro is not a small town. And if the slickers at ‘“American Idol’” persist in labeling us as such, we recommend they check out Hendersonville or Mt. Airy or any of the other places in our state that can be legitimately classified as such.

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