Friday, March 5, 2010

Rejection and American Idol

Our Northern Colorado contestant on American Idol, Haeley Vaughn, was voted out last night, along with three other talented young folks. I say talented because they were screened and selected to participate in the show from a huge pool of auditions. At several points in the process, the judges felt these kids had something special to bring to the show. They made it to the top 24.

Haeley, from Fort Collins, Colorado, is only 16 years old. After two performances, it was clear she didn't have the experience, maturity, and stage presence to keep up with the rest of the contestants. Her voice is wonderful, but she didn't sing well on the show. She is beautiful, and she has a glorious smile, but it wasn't enough to turn on the viewers who do the voting.

I hope Haeley comes away from her American Idol experience with a new determination to study, train, and learn. It won't be easy to jump right back in the water with the sharks. Judge Simon Cowell was disturbingly cruel, especially considering Haeley's age.

We writers can sympathize with feelings of rejection, especially when the judgment is delivered with harsh words and an angry expression. At some time in our writing careers, we'll most likely face such a criticism. My first slap-down experience was at a weekend writing retreat/workshop, supposedly to help beginning writers. That critique stopped me cold. I didn't show my work to anyone for several years after that happened. That vulnerability slowed me down and held me back, because it's the feedback and the criticism that help us get better. We can't afford to be sensitive, to run away and hide.

It's a tough old world. The ones who succeed have strength, determination, a willingness to work real hard, and a lot of courage. Rejection is inevitable. As hard as it is, we have to listen to it, weigh it, think about it, use it, and move forward.

Haeley has talent, and she'll have a lot of support from her family and her community as she works to refine her voice and her style. I can't wait to see her grow, and I hope she tackles American Idol again in a year or two. I'm very proud of her.


Ann Elle Altman said...

I feel sad for some of the young singers that get voted off the show. I hope they gather the courage to keep going.


Karen Walker said...

I feel terrible for those kids who have to face such harsh judgment from Simon. The other judges seem to have the ability to phrase things in a way that doesn't do damage, but Simon can be so cruel. Although he's often right. I hope Haley has a thick enough skin to come thru this and continue her singing. She's delightful.

Anonymous said...

eek I will have to stop reading American Idol posts :o) Last night, here in NZ, they screened the twelve girls singing, I don't know who goes yet. The boys have their turn tonight. I miss Paula Abul, but think Ellen is great!

Jemi Fraser said...

It's a tough show for sure. I thought Haeley was beautiful and had a lovely voice. The pressure got to her, but it's obvious the girl has lots of talent. I'm sure she'll use this to grow and become even better.

I'm still growing that requisite tough skin myself :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi everyone -- I'm glad I'm not the only Idol fan here. One tiny goof in my post became apparent when I read an article about Haeley in our newspaper this morning. Apparently she cannot audition for American Idol again because she made it as far as the top 24. Luckily, she has a world of options outside Idol World. I'm betting on her future success.

Jemi -- I can only say that my skin got a lot tougher as I got older. I'd lick my wounds for a while, then put myself right back out there. Eventually my work got better and/or my luck changed. :)

Niki -- I never thought about American Idol being available in NZ. I know a lot of countries have their own version, and I'd love to see some of them here. I also wish they'd do more of the World Idol shows like the one they did a few years ago when Kelly Clarkson participated -- I think it was the young man from Norway who won. That show was great!

dirtywhitecandy said...

I'm interested in what you say about about cruel slapdowns. A friend of mine was down to the final two for a role in Sister Act in London's West End. Finally she didn't get it, and the selectors told her it was because her voice wasn't strong enough. She was so upset, even though she's a pro and has been through auditions before.

What hurt her most was the comment about her voice - which she felt was unjust and cruel. If her voice wasn't strong, how did she get down to the final two out of 300 actresses?

I've known this happen to other friends who have had near misses for jobs, book deals and prizes. The selectors feel bad about rejecting you - after stringing you along for so long - and try to make out it is your own fault. What they really can't say was 'it was 51/49, or 'we liked so-and-so a tiny bit more'. Truly deserved criticism, though, can usually be backed up - and usually no one has to be cruel about it.

I've had a few nasty slapdowns in my time. I've learned that if they aren't backed up by actual evidence it's their problem, not mine.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Good point, Roz. It seems bizarre that judges and directors would be so insecure that they'd need to shift the blame, but they're human. If we realize that, it can help us survive these experiences and go on to better things.

Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

Criticism can either make us or break us, and we're in control of both outcomes. How each of us reacts publicly is varied, but if you're passionate about something there will always be a tinge of pain. Our public reaction is no measure of our internal drive. Spirit sees what's inside.

I love this post Patricia. I'm not an idol fan, but I like the way you've used idol to build a great story. Happy revision and gardening, Simon.