Friday, February 27, 2009

American Idol

I've been insanely busy with a book deadline, but I don't miss an episode of American Idol. So, what does this have to do with being a widow/widower? Well, it seems that this season is barely underway and the Internet is abuzz. It's partly about some of the contestants and their talent, such as Adam Lambert, who has such amazing range and stage presence (and eyes, LOL) that he's going to be hard to beat.

But another contestant is getting Internet buzz for two reasons. His name is Danny Gokey. Now if you know American Idol, you know the first few weeks are bad and good auditions and sob stories. They pull you in, get you to sympathize with the homeless teen or the man who is looking after his mother who has cancer. These stories really don't bother me; some people think they should just stick to the competition (honestly, if you're really bothered by hearing these stories, you're taking this show waaaay to seriously). Since I write about celebrity-do-gooders, it's nice to see the human side of people who, for at least some of them, are going to be the next big thing. I hope they use those personal stories to do something good after they've made it big (think Elliott Yamin and his diabetes story -- he now works with on behalf of diabetes charities).

Now Danny Gokey's story, which has been highlighted by AI repeatedly: Danny, who looks like Robert Downey Jr (I am NOT complaining because I happen to think that RDJ is one of the sexiest men in movies ever) is a young widower. He is 28 years old and lost his wife only four weeks before his audition. His friend convinced him to get out of the house and go to the audition -- Gokey made it through and made the top 24 last week. The buzz? People on the Internet are 'sick' of hearing about his wife. They claim he is using it to gain votes. A shot to his friend in the audience shows a picture of his wife and he is interviewed and asked about it all the time. The Internet audience -- bloggers, fans, etc. -- want him to stop and 'move on.'

In an interview, Danny said, 'this is a sob story i don't want,' and says he says that it's only been seven months and it's part of who he is. He didn't want to get out of bed until this. We can all identify with him. He had the courage and the strength to go to an audition and achieve something big, only to not have his wife on his side to celebrate with when he was told he was through. And since then, the man has been going with American Idol -- success and fame is staring him in the face and he just buried his wife a few months ago. He's dealing with a huge rollercoaster of emotions and the Internet is giving him such a hard time.

Now, everybody fell in love with Elliott Yamin's mom (and by the way, I've interviewed Elliott and he's such a sweetheart), but there was no major Internet buzz about how they keep going to her and using his story about being deaf in one ear to get votes. Yet Danny is hearing this to the point where he already had to be interviewed about it and has this weighing over his head in addition to trying to audition week after week. He has agreed he wants people to vote for him for his talent -- and he's VERY talented -- and not his story. But I totally agree with him that this is who he is right now. He's had to adjust to a new life, cope with new feelings of grief and pain, audition for something he's never done before, be interviewed by reporters about the whole thing and find out that people on the Internet are writing nasty things about him. Lots to cope with and I think he's doing it with class.

Remember how we were seven months or even four weeks after our spouse died? If it wasnt for my kids, I also wouldn't have gotten out of bed. Danny has a great friend who encouraged him to try something. Some have said, "what was he doing at an audition only four weeks later?" My, how people are still judging widows and widowers. We're damned if we do and damned if we don't. If he couldn't sing well, we wouldn't have heard a thing about him or his story or it would've ended after a bad audition. But he's being judged by people who have no idea what it's like to bury a spouse at any age, nevermind at his young age when he thought they had a whole life together.

My point is this -- I hope, for Danny's sake, that people vote for him on talent alone and that American Idol gives him a little privacy on the subject and not constantly bring it up. If he wants to mention it, he has that right, but he's already said it's a sob story he doesn't want. Would anyone? So he's doing the best he can. Let him work through it. Do I think that he's the best person in the competition. He's one of my top faves right now, along with Adam Lambert and Alison (sorry I can't remember her last name...the redheaded one). I would like to see him go far in the competition purely on his talent. And I wish people would stop being so harsh on him. I thought we've come farther than this. I guess I was wrong.



Jscothammerquist said...

That is so true. For a year I went up to everyone and said, "Hello, my husband's dead" Unfortunately people who haven't been there cannot understand how the grief connsumes you.

Shan said...

Hi there - love your blog! And I love Danny too! I think that even if I weren't a widow - I'd love him!

Sorry for being a blog stalker - but thought I'd say Hi instead of a ghost :)

kandice said...

Hi, I just found your blog.. and I wanted to say, I loved Danny. Tomorrow will be four weeks since I lost my husband and the love of my life. I honestly can't imagine how he was able to do what he did at four weeks. I admire him greatly and hope that I can start figuring out how to keep going. He is amazing and I can only imagine what great things God has in store for him and his future.