Tuesday, February 06, 2007

American Idolfreude

scha·den·freu·de [shahd-n-froi-duh]
satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune

We lack an English word for Schadenfreude, literally in German 'harm joy', but the delicious tingling pleasure of seeing anothers misfortune has managed to become to the 00s what apathy was to the 90s. What is it about seeing another person suffering and making an ass of themself that gets us so hot and bothered? Does seeing other people fail make us feel better about our own lack of talent, style and physical attractiveness? We love it when celebrities get busted, politicians get caught, and the rich go bankrupt, but we also love seeing regular people get taken down a peg.

The American Idol auditions that have been airing 68 hours a week on Fox are a prime example of our national schadenfeudic obsession. Why watch someone with a terrible voice attempt to belt out a Christina Aguilera song and then get ridiculed by psudo-celebrity judges? For the humor of it, and to enjoy the fact that you might be a talentless slob, but at least you're not making a fool of yourself on national television. And aren't the contestants just asking for it, knowing that they aren't going to be taken to Hollywood but desperate for their 15 minutes of fame in whatever form they can get it. Makes you long for the days when you could watch contestants dry-heave from eating pig testicles on Fear Factor.

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