Fighting singers

| May 8, 2012 | 5 Replies

Who wants to see a bunch of good singers performing? Not so many hands.

Who wants to see a bunch of good singers competing, with the losers sent home and the winner crowned as champion? I see lots of hands, and you people might be big fans of a TV show called The Voice, which just completed it’s finale for this season.

Image From "The Voice"

A man named Jermaine Paul was the overall winner, and everyone else from a huge field of singers, was not the winner. The stage from one of the earlier shows says it all. The singers were competing against each other in a boxing ring. They are hitting each other with notes.  This is the art of war.   The image at the right was from one of the early shows this year.  I saw a few of the shows, and my family kept me posted about the shows I missed.

Although this post is about singing, it could have been about most anything in America. We are a country that insists that we rank things from bad to good and that we need to have a best, a winner.  To have a winner, we’ll need some dejected competitors, some sad tears.

Image from The Voice

I thought of The Voice two weeks ago, when I attended a poetry reading by 50 seventh graders chosen by their schools to present their work.  No, they didn’t compete against each other at the reading.  They merely stood up (many of them nervously) and read their work.  We in the audience applauded them all because they were all admirable.

To keep most people interested in anything, however, you need a good overall story.  World class art hanging in a museum doesn’t get loud applause.   It turns out that conflict provides its own story.  All you need is two people struggling over something, even something stupid, and you’ve diverted attention toward the struggle from every angle, like laser beams.  While at work today, I glanced at the TV in the lunch room–it’s always on and it forces me to see what corporate garbage (not always, but often enough) is pouring out.   I glanced at the tube in time to see the beginning of the Wolf Blitzer “news” show called “The Situation Room.”   The opening graphics appeared to a series of images from around the world viewed through a gun site from a fighter jet.  I suppose this isn’t too surprising, given that the show airs in a country that is always at war, and would lose any sense of identity were it not at war.  Our national anthem fits us well.  Just keep giving us enemies or else we’ll create them.  If we weren’t currently obsessed about the Middle East, we’d be demonizing China (actually we already are demonizing and provoking China).

Would a TV show that simply featured excellent singers singing get good ratings?  Not likely, but this is true even if the performances were much the same as one would see on The Voice.  That is my assumption, and I based it on the powerful and highly addictive effect of gratuitous conflict, of conflict pornography.

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Category: Art, War

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (5)

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  1. Ben says:

    And we are down to the top 3 American Idol singers. Two of them are superb, you will be hearing their music in the future. (Jessica/Jacob)

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Jessica Sanchez has a great voice.

      Both of these show have a karaoke feel, though. I’d like to see a show that features people who both write and sing their own songs.

      I’d also like to see a show that didn’t pretend that it could pick “the best” singer. How would that be possible, give the many styles of singing? How about picking a top five group of excellent singers?

  2. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    Most of the time, we are unaware of the air we breath, until we detect a foul stench. The plethora of winner take all “reality” game shows on TV serves a purpose to indoctrinate the public with an anti community mythos, an ideology that breeds distrust of others and primes our thinking in ways that divides us into defenseless worker ants, unable to stand against powerful corporate “persons”.

    I’ve seen “The Voice” and I prefer it to “Idol”, but too much of reality programming appears to be fixed. “Idol” seems to me to promote style over substance. Age, and appearance take precedence of over talent, often resulting in mediocre cookie cutter performances. Quite often the runners-up go to more successful careers than the winner.

    A few years ago, there was a “Dog Show” style talent show which parodied “American Idol”. Instead of choosing the most talented singers, however, the least talented were chosen and mislead by the show’s staff of fashion experts, voice trainers, talent coaches and judges to believe they were the next idol.

    The program was like watching a train wreck in slow motion, and people tuned in, not because they thought the extended joke was funny, but because they found empathy for the contestants. The show was blasted for its emotional cruelty.

    The show was titled “Superstar USA”

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