2/1/07 – I am 36 years old today. Yesterday I wrote about not feeling particularly old. Today I feel like I need some fiber and a cane. I am barely old enough to be President of the United States. But I am too old for American Idol. This is only my second season watching the hugely popular show and I am still learning the rules and nuances as I go. I just assumed that the show attracted the younger fame seekers--it never occured to me that the older set was methodically left out. You have to be between 16 and 28 years of age to be a contender for the coveted title.
The matter of age and American Idol struck me when I choked back a tear for 64-year-old auditioner Sherman Pore. He clearly exceeded the age limit, but had gathered petitions to allow him to sing for the judges...and for America. Sherman's "lady love" had been sick with cancer and encouraged him to go the distance, or at least try. Two days before the audition, she died. Now if THAT wasn't enough to make you bawl, the likeable Pore sang a lovely and heartfelt rendition of the classic standard "You Belong To Me". There was more passion in his voice than in the combined voices of dozens I have seen in the last two weeks of auditions. Paula cried. I almost did. Even Simon looked touched, which is a rarity for the paragon of skepticism and tough love.
What if the next American Idol is 64 years old? What if they are 50? Or 40? What if the next great, yet to be discovered talent is singing in the shower right now, but two days past their 28th birthday? Tough. Step aside and let some snappy, more youthful performer get the attention.
I know why this is the case. I am a capitalist if there ever was one. Advertisers want the younger generation. They don't want the Bingo Momma crowd gathering around the rest home television rooting for the elderly singers. You can't blame them for trying to lure the hipper audience. But some nights make me wish they would reconsider the rules.
Good for you, Sherman Pore. You showed more dignity and grace than most of the singers a third of your age. You said it best when you said "I won tonight". Indeed you did.