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American Idol: Dealing with Criticism

April 9th, 2009

Focus Text: Proverbs 13: 18 (NLT)

18 If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace;
      if you accept correction, you will be honored.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

Laura and I have watched American Idol since the second season of the show.  Like all AI viewers who are faithful to at least DVR the show and watch it when time permits (which also means you can fast-forward through commercials), we have a contextual perspective on each season’s contestants and how they fare in the grueling gauntlet of national exposure.

One key feature of the show . . . quite possibly the most crucial feature . . . is the judging.  The judges are the ones that we sometimes love and sometimes love to hate.  The quintessential of all controversial judging decisions has usually poured forth from the mouth of one Simon Cowell.  An average-looking man with a less-than-average haircut and an even more-less-than-average wardrobe, his scathing remarks are usually met with boos from the live fans and red-faces from the performers on the stage.

I’ve had my own share of frustrations with Simon’s remarks over the years.  I just don’t always agree with him.  I’ve been especially disagreeable when his comments to contestants like Carrie Underwood have seemed completely and totally unrealistic and nonsensical in light of the fact that she has gone on to sell more albums than any other Idol winner in the history of the show.  However, what if we approached these ideas from a different viewpoint?  What if one of the reasons that Carrie has done so well is because she actually listened and adjusted from Simon’s comments?  Hmmm, what if indeed.

Here’s what Carrie herself had to say on Fox News about other contestants who talk back and resist Simon’s suggestions.  “‘His [Simon Cowell‘s] role, I guess, is to be the ‘bad guy,’ so I get so, so angry when I see contestants up there arguing with him,’ Carrie told us backstage at Sunday’s taping of “Idol Gives Back. ‘Just take it — get up there and take it like a man.'”

It would appear that somewhere in the midst of her success, she found the wherewithal within herself to listen to criticism and absorb it instead of reject it.  No one likes criticism . . . least of all myself.  It’s hard to hear from someone that the very goal of who you’re trying to be is not being met.  With this information, choices appear.  The first choice is to withdraw into a little ball of self-pity and find all the reasons that the criticism isn’t true . . . and in all actuality, criticism often brings with it elements that may not be completely accurate.  However, when a world-renowned music producer looks at you and makes a suggestion, it may be worth your while to heed his words.

This passage speaks to this concept.  “If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored.”  We may not like it and we are certainly permitted to explore it before accepting it at face value, but when it comes to criticism and correction, we must not ignore it.  Ignoring something is rarely the best strategy in life.  Relationship problems.  Financial issues.  Character development.  Anything of value in life will require effort and a process of action and then correction and adjustment of that action in steady doses.  That’s the process that leads to honor.

Carrie Underwood just won Entertainer of the Year . . . apparently her willingness to accept criticism and correction has worked well for her.  I hope I can make it work well for me too.

The “judges” are still out on that one.


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