Hm. Tuesday night, the American Idol juggernaut landed in Omaha. Actually, to be more specific, they aired the show with the Omaha tryouts that occurred this past August and October.
Gotta say, I'm more than a little ticked at the producers right now.
Let's take a quick look at the very beginning of the show, shall we? Ryan Seacrest begins his voiceover..."over the past seven years, we've been to some of the biggest and busiest cities in the country.."
Uh oh...already I can tell this ain't gonna be good.
As he lists them off and we see short clips of each one, you can just see the setup coming. Here on the one hand we have bustling cities filled with life and vibrance and culture, and then, on the other hand we have...cowtown Omaha. *cue the chirping crickets and fiddle*
If only they had been that nice.
Check out the first 22 seconds of this clip.
Okaaaaaay....so, um, where exactly in that intro is Omaha? Yes, we get it. Nebraska has lots of cornfields. But unless I'm terribly mistaken, the tryouts didn't happen in Old Man Swanson's pasture. They happened at the Qwest Center, near downtown.
In all fairness, they did eventually show a few shots of the city itself. But even then, they kept coming back to the corn. Over and over and over. And over.
You know, I really don't mind them showing the people they showed...the goth girl with the wicked laugh was memorable, as was Chris Bernheisel from Fremont--the 25 year-old kid who couldn't sing but did land a gig, courtesy of Simon, of acting as the on-site reporter for Fox 42 (the Omaha affiliate) once the finale rolls around. Every tryout episode of American Idol is going to have its fair share of...um...interesting personalities and folks that just flat out can't sing. But the choices they made regarding how a city with three quarters of a million people was portrayed was unfortunate.
Here's a few views of Omaha that American Idol missed:
Heartland of America Park, with downtown Omaha in the background
Downtown skyline at night, with the Qwest Center in the foreground
Rosenblatt Stadium, home of the College World Series since 1951
The Old Market...great restaurants and shopping
The Gene Leahy Mall
There's plenty more that I'd like to add, but I've gotta get Kiddo to preschool soon.
Nebraska has enough of an image problem from people who have never set foot in the state without having people who actually have been here perpetuating a bunch of stereotypes. So now, for the 30 million or so viewers that saw this episode, everything they've ever thought about Nebraska has just been reinforced. Right here:
Hmmm...is this 72nd and Dodge?
Thanks a million, Nigel Lythgoe.
I do know this much. One of the things you regularly see in these tryout episodes are people who've been rejected leaving the room and cussing out the judges, the cameras, the producers, small woodland creatures, and everyone and thing that they happen to meet out of their sheer anger at not being selected.
Didn't happen once in the Omaha episode. Not once.
Thanks for representin', Omaha. Too bad American Idol couldn't have returned the favor.