The other night a show was on television in the background. I assume that it was Dancing with the Stars but I cannot be sure. During this particular segment there was a girl on who was a krump expert, I think that they are called crumpets. This crumpet weaved a familiar reality television tale about how dancing was her dream and the only thing that she knew how to do. At some point her mother was interviewed and it was revealed that she used the money allotted for the electricity bill in order to pay for her daughters dance classes.
As an observer we are supposed to take from this admission that her mother so deeply believed in her daughters talent and drive that her passion needed to be fostered over the families collective ability to see at night. For them, it worked out. The Krumper somehow managed a dancing career and she earned a feature spot on Dancing with the Stars. The message was clear: "Dream big, hold onto your dreams and never let go." It is the type of message and sentimentality that America can get behind. If you apply yourself, try really hard and want it bad enough, good things will happen. I don't want to diminish this message because being passionate and hard working is a great thing. However, I do feel that the other side of the coin must also be shown.
Every X-factor, American Idol, America's Got Talent show has the same premise. A hardworking, unrecognized nobody from somewhere in the middle of the country possesses a huge unrecognized talent. These people are burdened with children, bills, drugs, early childhood trauma. Their only way out of their horrific nightmare is for America to witness their inner awesome and catapult their fledgling career to the next level. For each cycle of the show about 4 out of 50,000 realize that dream. The rest of the people (the failures) are served with even more self doubt and tragic life circumstances.
All of their lives they were told that if they put their eggs in one basket and prayed to the god of money and success that their dreams would come true. The real reality is that most of our dreams do not come true. Further, investing your entire life into something without objectively assessing your own level of skill is reckless and irresponsible.
How about a reality show called "American Idol The Failures." The show would be shot documentary style like the little vignettes that are spliced into every program. we would visit the mobile home of Johnny failure in Mobile Alabama. Now thirty pounds heavier and rocking a strike beard he tearfully laments through sips of Budweiser how his wife and kids left him when HE left to pursue his American Idol dream. He quit his job at the cattle ranch/quarry/steel mill to pursue his passion and lost his medical insurance along the way. In a freak tractor accident he ran over his own foot, pulverizing it. Unfortunately due to having no insurance the wound festered. Johnny eventually had to get his friend Marcus to do some "doctoring" which involved pouring moonshine on his bloated leg and hacking it off with a chainsaw.
If the desire to be famous was promoted like a gambling addiction rather than a test of strength and willpower how many of us would still be obsessed with it? If fame was a sickness that needed to be cured how many of us would circumvent modest opportunity time and time again. Fame is a fickle lottery. Even talented people are passed over because they don't have the right "look". No one gets their 15 minutes of fame anymore and very few get 15 seconds. For every success story there is 100 suicides and 1000 broken homes. Dreams are great things to have just remember that many of them turn into nightmares that you cannot wake up from.