Idol is not to Blame

Find my latest American Idol article here.

Is it pressure or unrealistic expectations?

This week a former contestant on American Idol killed herself outside Paula Abdul’s apartment, and now, of course, many people are looking to blame the show for her death.

It is sad that this young lady with all of her apparent mental problems chose to end her life, but I do not feel that it can be blamed on American Idol.

The truth of the matter is that kids these days are being given a false sense of reality and expectations.  Just this week, Fox News published a story which blamed parents and schools for attempting to raise students’ self-esteem and expectations for their futures to unrealistic levels.

This is because children are praised without having to perform.  Children will always perform up to the expectations of adults.  When they are given no expectations in order to receive praise and rewards, then they will expect the world to be given to them for nothing.  They are often built-up without any foundation of personal accountability for 18 years, and then released on world that will savage them with its expectations.  Or, even worse they marry early and destroy the lives of their spouse and children with their expectation that everything will just be given to them without them having to put forth any effort.

American Idol and the other reality programs that focus on young people simply present us each season with the ugly truth of this situation.  Each season we see young person after young person talking about how they are not given a fair chance and how the ‘deserve’ to go on.  As Clint Eastwood said in Unforgiven, “Deserve has got nothing to do with it.”  No one ‘deserves’ to make it on American Idol or in any business.  They prove themselves through determination, hard work and talent.  The problem is that this generation, like most, does not want to put in the work that it takes to achieve, and they have been taught that they are the stars of their own movie.  Living a life where you go to work every day and earn an honest wage in order to support the family that you love is something that they cannot comprehend, and if they could, they would probably think it was boring and despise it.

I Love Peanut Butter, as Any Good American Should

I did not need to have Obama come along with his quick-witted repartee in order to know the greatness and potential of black people as a race.  I knew the first time that I heard that a black man, the great George Washington Carver, had invented peanut butter that they had something.

I have always been a big fan of peanut butter, and if I know there is peanut butter in something, I’m probably going to try it.  Some of my earliest memories of my father are of him mixing up some peanut butter and syrup, and then eating it scooped up on some Wonder Bread with a glass of milk.  Yummm….  I, personally, have always been a fan of the Elvis- Peanut butter and banana on white bread with a glass of milk.  Ohhh Yeah.

Of course, everyone knows that the best peanut butter is Jif (creamy).  Though, almost any peanut butter will do in a pinch.  However, I’m sure everyone remembers the time when they were kids, and their mother decided to get that nutritional crap that purports itself to be peanut butter.  You know, the stuff that has to be refrigerated, and separates, and when you try to spread it on a piece of bread, it simply tears the bread up so badly that it can no longer be used in a decent PB&J.  Disgusting.

Of course, the pinnacle of peanut butter came when those two lovers ran into each other.  She got chocolate in his peanut butter, and he got peanut butter on her chocolate.  The greatness of the Reese’s peanut butter cup was born.  The original cup is still the best, though Reese’s has come out with a plethora of variations that are not as good in recent years.  That perfect blend of sweet chocolate and salty peanut butter is great.  Too many candies and cookies (especially chocolate chip cookies) do not realize that it is that little bit of salt that puts it over the top.  You can usually tell when you have a peanut butter candy that is not made by Reese’s.  They are the sickly sweet ones.

As I said before, if it has peanut butter in it, then I will probably try it.  I have had some great peanut butter cookies of all sorts, but I still am in search of a truly great peanut butter pie or cake.  A few years ago, when I moved to the Fort Worth area, I found a frozen custard (ice cream to the masses) place that would mix peanut butter in their ice cream.  I swear it tastes like real peanut butter on a ratio of one to one with the ice cream.  You can even order an Elvis there where they mix in some banana along with the peanut butter in the frozen custard.  Greatness.

The other day when I was having an Elvis at Sheridan’s, I was remarking to myself once again that no one (at least no one that I have tried) makes peanut butter ice cream that tastes this good and this much like peanut butter.  Suddenly, a memory flickered.  I was brought back to my college days when I discovered the greatest peanut butter treat that I have ever purchased.  For a few years, in the early 1990’s Mar Inc. produced a candy bar it called the PB MAX.  All apologies to Reese’s, but this was better.  It consisted of a crunchy cookie about two inches square.  On top of this was what looked like a heaping tablespoon of real (possibly even Jif) peanut butter.  On top of the peanut butter, several small pieces of cookie were sprinkled.  And, finally the whole thing was covered in chocolate.  Unfortunately, the PB Max only lasted a few years, but it will always have a found place in my heart.

Hey Mars, bring it back!