Reality television seems here to stay. When "Survivor" first appeared I found it an irresistable opportunity to observe and study human inter-relationships under physical and psychological stress.
After series 6 it all got a little repetitive….the same behaviour with different faces and in different places. A lot like real life I guess.
The two young-talent discovery programs, Australian (and American) Idol, and So you think you can dance, for me have more inherent shortcomings;
1. The requirement for public voting makes them a popularity contest and not a true talent quest.
2. Each episode contains too much repetition of previously screened material that wastes what little time I have left on the planet.
3. Dance judge, Mary Murphy has no place in my serene world.
Recently in Australia, "Idol" sorted through the thousands of applicants. Among the very many who obviously had little or no singing talent, were a minority who were there for comedic purposes, or just to get their faces on television.
There were however, a very great many who, somewhere in life have been given the mistaken information that they had singing talent. Performers with no grasp of melody, pitch, tempo or presentation. They publicly humiliated and embarrassed themselves, and left the audition rejected, dejected, distraught and often in tears. I felt sad for them because their suffering was probably avoidable.
How many of them are victims of modern trendy parents who have some moral objection to critically evaluating their children in any way, or an education system which fails to examine or provide comparative grading of childrens performances, for fear of damaging self esteem.
When I was eleven years old I sang a Christmas carol solo in church. Also on the same bill of worship, a friend sang another carol. On the way home, I sought from my parents some confirmation that my performance, particularly compared to my friends, was one of the finest vocal renditions ever witnessed in the whole history of Methodism. They quietly suggested that my enquiry was perhaps a tad immodest, and that it was also possibly a line of discussion better left alone. For ever. But, they hastened to ask, " would you like to learn piano instead of singing?". My parents grounded me in reality.
Self esteem is not a birthright to be cosseted from damage. It is a process built through the acquisition of life skills and achievement.
It is a realisation that we have developed to a satisfactory level our own unique individual talents. Self esteem necessarily needs to be kept in check occasionally by being dented, bruised, and modified to avoid a society consisting of spoiled brats full of the self indulgent worship of their own "wonderfulness". There will be many pursuits for which we have absolutely no interest or aptitude. Lets be honest with our children. Tell them. Creative criticism may inspire improvement. At the very least it will allow them to learn what is real, and give them the necessary resilience to live life accepting their limitations, and not make themselves unnecessarily vulnerable to a critical world.
You may choose to tell them they sing like angels, but if they do not, honest people, and Australian Idol judges will tell them the truth.