Taste, tastelessness on ‘reality shows’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Black and white, heavy and light and lots of talent best describes the latest two heartthrobs – the American idols. &uot;The American Idol,&uot; a talent search program that ran on the WVBT Fox 43, is one that is well worth watching, and other so-called reality shows would do good to follow their example.

The big winner, Reuben Stoddard, and his runner-up, Clay Aikens, were featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show last week.

Email newsletter signup

Stoddard, a native of Birmingham, Ala., is a 350-pound black singer who is now being described as a Velvet Teddy Bear. He said that Gladys Knight gave him the name. To me, Stoddard’s singing resembles that of Luther Vandross, the soulful singer who is recuperating from a stroke he suffered in April. Stoddard’s first CD release,

&uot;Flying Without Wings,&uot; is now out. Aikens, a native of Raleigh, N.C, was the runner-up and is equally as talented as Stoddard. He has that Barry Manilow-style of singing and a new release called &uot;Tonight’s The Night.&uot;

Thank God young people are finally singing songs where we can understand what they are saying.

When Winfrey asked Stoddard how he and Clay felt competing against each other, he said that they asked a man on the set to practice announcing each one as the winner so that they could get use to it if their name wasn’t called. These two have displayed a kind of sportsmanship that is setting a good example for all mankind and young people because perhaps the young are going to look up to them as role models. Stoddard and Aikens have also admitted that since the show, they have become very close friends. On Monday, May 26, they teamed up as a duet to perform patriotic songs on &uot;The Good Morning America Show&uot; on Channel 10.

The &uot;American Idol&uot; Show has been described as a reality show just like &uot;The Bachelor,&uot; and &uot;The Bachelorette&uot; that aired on WVEC-Channel 13 and &uot;For The Love of Money&uot; that aired on WAVY- Channel 10. However, the latter shows don’t leave much to be appreciated.

&uot;The Bachelor&uot; has 25 women seeking to win one man’s proposal. The competition produces backstabbing, jealousy, and sometimes too much intimacy with the bachelor. The dating program &uot;For The Love Of Money&uot; is equally as distasteful when 15 women competing for the bachelor has to choose between him and one million dollars if she is chosen.

After an interview on &uot;Good Morning America&uot; on Monday with the bachelor on that show, he revealed that he had lost a job because of alcohol abuse, attended an alcohol abuse program and he also made an unpleasant gesture toward one of the contestants and ended up in her room uninvited. Now tell me, what women in her right mind would want to take a chance on a man like this? I don’t think that the women know these things at the time of the show, however the gesture toward the woman was revealed. If I were the woman who won, I would take the money and run because she would have a million dollars and wouldn’t have any problem with men floating her way with financial security to boot.

The latest dating show, &uot;Meet My Folks&uot; aired at 10 p.m. on WVEC-TV Channel 10 Monday and showed no respect for the young woman’s family. On this program the woman’s family was supposed to select one of five men for their daughter to date. The rules were that her parents were there to ask the young men questions to see which one was best suited for her. Her father, a school principal, asked the questions, and relatives of the men could give advice on why he should be the one selected.

From these questions it was revealed that one man had stolen money from his grandmother and that she hoped that his daughter would pick him so that he would have other relatives to pinch from. Another man’s mother said that her son had been in three car crashes in one month and had no respect for traffic rules. Other information was revealed that I consider too obscene to print.

Listening to these answers – if I were her parents – I would have done the same with my daughter that I would have done with the million dollars from that other show.

So let’s vote for more shows like &uot;The American Idol&uot; which brings out the best in people.

Also on the Oprah Show, Stoddard’s win showed how much Birmingham has changed since the 1960s. During that era when segregation was active, little children were killed when a church was bombed. Dr. Martin Luther King was arrested for fighting for civil rights and wrote many letters from a Birmingham jail.

Since Stoddard’s win many miracles have taken place. Blacks and whites came together to support him. For his new release he paid tribute to the people of Birmingham for their support, moved the scene of his video to the heart of the city and stood center stage to serenade the people that surrounded him. But most of all, it was a miracle that one black man in Alabama could rise to stardom in such a short time.

Evelyn Wall is a staff writer and regular columnist for the News-Herald.