I read in my newspaper today that Canberrans will be glued to their televisions tonight for the final of Australian Idol.
Um, do we have to? All 308,700 of us?
My wife and I were planning to go to our son's school Christmas concert tonight. I am going to feel soooooo conspicuous if we are the only ones in the audience.
Teacher No 1: "Where are all the parents?"
Teacher No 2: "I told you we should not have scheduled the concert for tonight. Most of the parents must have all stayed at home to watch the final of Australian Idol."
I have a terrible, terrible confession to make.
I have never actually seen Australian Idol.
Judging by the hype in the newspapers here, I was beginning to think I was alone in this great big country of ours. But, no, a colleague at work last night told me she had had exactly the same non-experience.
What's Australian Idol all about then?
Well, apparently it is a kind of talent quest in which viewers get to vote for contestants by mobile phone or SMS message.
What a cool idea! I wish they had had it for Young Talent Time when I was growing up. My mates and I would have voted Jamie Redfern out quick smart.
Like many things we do in Australia these days, however, it is not a new idea.
The Poms and Yanks did it first.
My newspaper tells me that 38 million viewers watched the finale of American Idol. (Actually, it says a "massive" 38 million viewers watched it but I have edited this out because I do not think they could possibly know that all 38 million had big, fat backsides just because they veged out on mindless telly that night.).
Um, and just because the United States and Britain do something, does it always mean we have to do it too? What next? We'll invade a country just because the US and Britain are doing it?
Well, OK, then, but only if we can SMS George W. Bush or Tony Blair or John W. Howard and tell them to get out because we like someone else with a bit more charisma, a higher IQ and a better singing voice.
I actually do think this television format has great potential.
I would love to see it harnessed in televised one-day cricket so there is more viewer participation.
Glenn McGrath bowls a wide and next moment the ground intercom crackles into life and tells him he's out of the game because 10,231 people just voted him off by SMS message.
For the record, the finalists tonight are, according to my newspaper, a funky Malaysian-born Guy Sebastian and down-to-earth farmer Shannon Noll.
The winner will get a million-dollar contract with record company BMG, at least one guaranteed hit single, Angels Brought Me Here, and a place in a World Idol sing-off.
Well whoppee-do. I am soooooo excited.
I am even inspired to take my mobile phone to tonight's school concert.
And that kid with the freckles and the falsetto voice at the back had better lift his game or else I swear I will vote him out.
©November 19, 2003, John Martin. All Rights Reserved
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