Are We Becoming a Nation of the Naive, the Apathetic, or the Ignorant?

I’m in the heart of New York City this week, which is considered by some to be a business mecca of some renown. I was having dinner in the hotel restaurant earlier this evening when three nattily dressed, middle-aged, business professionals took the table next to mine. I had to assume that they were somewhat successful based on the cut of their clothes and the brightness of their “bling.” That might even lead one to assume that they might be well educated and somewhat experienced. However, I could be wrong.

I say that because I couldn’t help overhearing their very loud, intense, argumentative conversation. I kept reading my paper as I finished dinner when they almost came to blows. I was more shocked by the subject of their argument than I was by their near confrontation. They were debating whether Sanjaya Malakar’s continued presence on American Idol would lead to its inevitable demise!

I could easily understand contrasting views on the subject of politics, the war in Iraq, trade balance concerns, or the threatening nor’easter we’re experiencing here in the Big Apple at the moment. But Sanjaya’s assault on “Rappin’ Randy,” “Pouting Paula,” and “Sassy Simon”? Come on! By the way, they weren’t having a friendly gab session over drinks … they were at each other’s throats!

I guess I found it somewhat surprising that none of them seemed to grasp the reality that most anything they see on television has more to do with business than it does with entertainment. Everyday common sense would shed a fair amount of light on that Idol situation. This ratings leader has recently been accused of losing some of its luster after several very successful seasons so it’s quite evident they need to liven things up with some scandal. Now we must decide if Sanjaya’s longevity is the product of Howard Stern brainwashing his radio listeners to vote this young man to victory, an Internet web site conspiracy ( to keep the least talented contestant in the competition to the end, or a strategy to give Simon Cowell an opportunity to pursue other interests after declaring that he will quit if Sanjaya should become this season’s American Idol.

Regardless of the truth you must admit that this is a “no-lose” situation for everyone involved as it creates coveted publicity for all and gives fans a reason to tune in every week to see the latest twists and turns. I doubt if we’ll see this young man take the title as it would cause many to question the credibility of American Idol. Should Stern and the popular Internet web site continue to influence the voting, you can bet that the producers will simply control the voting results. The reason is simple. This “cash cow” is producing hundreds of millions of dollars every season via advertising dollars, merchandising products, recording contracts, tour income and on and on. They’re not going to allow that tremendous cash flow to subside. This is a business, BIG business, not entertainment. Why do you think you continue to get “Yo, Dog,” “Crocodile Tears,” and “Thumbs Down” week after week? Relax, enjoy the performances, but don’t take it too seriously. These young people are very talented and put on a good show. Sit back, relax, and enjoy what they offer. And, more importantly, if you see these three businessmen having dinner in Times Square … find a table as far away from them as possible!

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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