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it doesn’t matter if they can sing

November 30th, 2004

The ‘Idol’ phenomenon has hit Singapore hard. It’s now down to the last two contestants. I neither know nor care which can sing better. I have no interest in the ‘Idol’ franchise. I lived in England when the first Pop Idol aired and the sick voyeuristic orgy that it was made me question the sanity of the British people. Then I moved back to America and it followed me! I lived through two incarnations of the bad songs. The utter hysteria of the people who become addicted to this show served to confirm my ‘take the safety labels off and see if the problem fixes itself’ attitude towards American intelligence. Now I come to Singapore — half way around the world and low and fucking behold, Singapore Idol. It’s a bunch of pre-teen girls wetting their panties over a couple of guys who would not touch them as they have the wrong plumbing.

But enough bitching about Idol, I just don’t get it. I mean I like to a good train wreck as much as the next person, but I just don’t get it. The reason I do find the Singapore Idol interesting is that the final vote is being take very seriously. And it has little to nothing to do with the abilities of the two contestants to sing. It’s all about looks, but not because the girls find one guy more attractive than the other. No, it has to do with looks because it’s all about racism. See one of the contestants is of Chinese heritage and the other is Malay.

It really is that bad. Apparently there are people planning to spend a hundred plus dollars on voting for the candidate who shares their ethnicity. At fifty cents a vote that’s a deep seeded racism.

Most people think that America is racist. And it is. But one thing I have learned form living abroad and traveling is that America is far from the most racist nation. In fact we are probably near the bottom of the pile. The big difference is that there is some sort of dialog in America regarding race relations. We fought a war that had a lot to do with racism and we spent another hundred years acting openly racist. Now we still have a long way to go but there is a dialog, muted as it might be.

America has a built in advantage when it comes to racism: the melting pot. The fact that we are almost all mutts, that after the first few generations immigrants tend to acculturate, has helped long-term racism. I am not saying that racism is dead in the US — far from it. What I am saying is that America is far ahead of the rest of the world in regards to racism. It’s hard to explain without being in another society and observing it, but trust me; most of the world is racist, many of them have just never met someone of another race.

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