Tasting The Truth

I absolutely hate American Idol. I know…for all my love of anything music related, it’s strange, right? I mean, I unapologetically love shows like Glee and Smash and The Voice! So how could I possibly hate a show like that? Good question.

You know how so many people tune in to watch the first few episodes where they show all those auditions and put all these truly horrible singers on tv and the world laughs? I don’t. I don’t find it at all funny. In fact, I find it to be cruel and hurtful. Whenever people ask me why I hate the show and I tell them why, I get the same answer.

“Oh, those people know they’re terrible. They’re just looking for their 15 minutes of fame.”


“Come on, it’s funny! Those people know what they’re getting into.”

But I wonder…do they really? I don’t doubt that some of them do! But think about it… really think. When a friend puts on an outfit they’re pretty excited about…and they think it looks good…and they ask you what they think…how many of you guys are honest? Do you tell your boyfriend/girlfriend/mom that the lime green outfit washes out her face and makes her look frumpy? Or do you just say…”you look great!”


I was talking to a friend yesterday. She began her conversation with me by laughingly saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.” You see, she’d done an act of kindness for a woman. During their conversation the woman found out that she was a writer. Apparently this woman has a blog. She’d just gotten out of a horrible domestic situation and for the last three years has been living off of the kindness of churches, friends and family. She’s uneducated and has no job (not to mention she had no car and her cable and internet had been shut off). When she discovered that my friend wrote romances she told her she was going to look over her writings so that she could give some for my friend to look over.

My friend is a good person. She knew that what this lady was looking for was someone to validate her…someone to tell her she was good. Let’s be honest for a second…when someone’s been through the hard knocks this woman has been through, the last thing anyone wants to do is crush her more. My friend warned her…she’s not very nice when she’s beta reading. She explained that although the writing industry has changed a lot lately and anybody can write a book…it takes a lot for that book to make money and sell. She was as upfront and honest as she could be…because she knew this woman who was not at all articulate face to face was probably going to translate the same way on paper. She’s dreading having to tell this woman what she suspects will be the truth. But would she be doing her any favors by lying? Publishers and Reviewers can be pretty brutal…

I’ll give you one last example… I used to work with this lady. Yeah, she could be a bit overbearing and gossipy, but her heart was in the right place. The problem was that she always came in to work smelling. When you’re in a people-facing job (and commissioned sales, at that) this is not a good thing. Everyone in our location had brought it up as a concern to our manager. Unsure how to handle such a complaint he contacted HR…well, so he said. He’d been waiting for a week with no answer, so I suspect that if he had, he was afraid to implement their advice for fear of hurting this woman’s feelings. One day, however, I’d had it. I decided to broach the subject myself…peer to peer. I was sick and tired of all the talking behind her back…and I was sick of the smell. So as we were working alone together I started up a conversation.

Me: Do you mind if I ask you a question?
Her: No.
Me: Do you have pets at home?
Her: Oh yeah! I have 2 dogs, 3 cats, 4 birds…etc, etc, etc (she had lots of tiny animals, too)
Me: Ah, that must it…
Her: Must be what?
Me: Sometimes you come in smelling like wet dog or something. I wasn’t sure what might be causing it. I just have a very sensitive nose.
Her: Oh my God.
Me: I’m sorry. I just wasn’t sure how to tell you.

She seemed okay when I left her, but apparently she went home and told her husband that she was “the smelly kid in school”….and she asked the rest of our co-workers if they thought she smelled. The cowards effing lied to her, making me out to be the bad guy, but I was okay with it. In fact, I reiterated to her that I’d told her I had a very sensitive nose and that certain scents cause me not to react very well. After that, not only did she take special care with her hygiene, she also checked with me about the perfumes she was wearing, citing that she was concerned that her hormone chemistry might have changed since she’d had her daughter. Yeah, they lied…I told the truth…but in the end, everyone benefited from the lack of stench.

Right Friends

So, back to the whole American Idol thing… Yeah, there’s a chance that many of them do it for the thrill…the kick of being on tv. I doubt that’s the case for everyone, though. There are probably more than a couple who’ve been complimented A LOT by well meaning friends….who truly have NO IDEA how bad they are…until they see themselves featured on tv. You don’t think that hurts their feelings? How good could that be for their egos? Did those seemingly harmless compliments at the time do them any favors?

Which do you think is kinder in the long run? I’ll stick to the truth. So is there a popular show on tv that gets under your skin? Why?

46 thoughts on “Tasting The Truth

  1. lenwilliamscarver says:

    honesty is the best policy..what a wonderful kindness you showed her and your whole staff benefited. good for you!! as for tv shows like Idol, I haven’t watched it for years it is like they (judges) are very cruel and hurtful I do watch the voice but will quit if it gets that way, and I will say it seems they have abetter grasp of the talent they put on for the world to see whereas Idol seems to search more for the bad perhaps for the numbers .


    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Thanks! I think the difference between the judges on Idol v. The Voice is that the ones from The Voice actually remember what it’s like to be the new kid…needing the mentorship and positive reinforcement along with feedback to help them grow. As for the Idol ones…they’re definitely all about marketability and their ratings…they don’t seem to care about their artists…then again, they don’t really do much in the mentorship department except to give feedback during the show.


  2. Jessi Gage says:

    Ooh, I don’t envy your friend the heavy decision whether to crush that poor woman’s writing dreams or to give her false hope. Maybe she’ll turn out to be a brilliant writer!

    I’m glad you told the truth in a sensitive way to the woman with the pets. Your coworkers are A-holes for pretending not to notice the smell. Jerks.


    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Unfortunately, she’s pretty sure that she doesn’t have the foundation to be able to write well. :-/ She warned the woman that if she wants her to read it, she’ll not be pulling punches and she won’t be nice… Because nice doesn’t help or sell books…


  3. moviewriternyu says:

    I always worry that my compliments sound fake…even the ones I mean sincerely. I think it’s just my deep scary voice and Brooklyn accent. Or it might have something to do with the way I’m always rolling my eyes at people… 🙂


  4. allanbard says:

    I cannot bear the sight of such shows :), actually… Not just American Idol (or how the Bulgarian version goes – Music Idol), but all of them… Yet, there are some really funny moments in some of them that could help one feels much better as laughter is the best medicine… Probably all the wolrd already know about a Bulgarian girl that tried to sing Mariah Carey’s “Without You” but in “English” as she heard the song when she was a child…
    And yes, I do think that a lie hurts more later… Especially when it’s told in such a case as signing horribly in front of so many people…


  5. Katie says:

    I have to admit, I so enjoy those bad auditions. It’s horrible, it’s mean, and sometimes it goes too far, but I’m okay with that. In my daily life I never compliment anyone because of how uncomfortable I am giving and receiving (ooh) praise, so I’d say I’m pretty honest. I was actually just writing about that the other day.

    PS: Glad to have you back! 🙂


  6. journalpulp says:

    Where have you been, Kitt Crescendo? I was a little worried about you.

    Concerning bad breath, body odor, or other things hygienic, I (more or less) advocate your policy of brutal honesty.

    Concerning literature and other things artistic, I think brutal honesty can annihilate motivation and even destroy a blossoming and legitimate talent. I’ve seen it happen, in fact. Several times. Artistic temperaments are so often fragile, and motivation plays such a critical role in artistic creation — and the discipline that that creation requires — that I do think it’s frequently better to be less than blunt. I don’t, however, advocate lying. I do, however, advocate focusing as much as possible on the positive.

    Painters have a saying that if the neophyte knew in the beginning how much she has to learn, she’d never undertake the task of learning. Criticism of this sort must be done with the utmost delicacy.


    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Nice to know my absence was noticed. Apparently there was some confusion in the WordPress universe and I hit their spam alert causing my blog to be suspended for four long, torturous days. 😉

      As for art…I agree, it does take delicacy so you don’t crush an artist’s soul…but lying doesn’t do anyone favors, either.

      Guess that means we’re on the same page. 🙂


  7. rommel says:

    It’s simple. The “reality” in Reality TV is always blur. Everything is staged. If you are in line to be in a show, either your qualified or under qualified. You are forced to “act”, to show emotion and have a strong personality. Otherwise, they don’t get to be in the light.


    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      I don’t know if it’s as simplistic as that. In fact, I have a friend who went through the audition process for Idol and missed being on tv by 1 round. He had quite a lot to say… The audition process isn’t staged…there is a nationwide cattle call & anyone who shows up gets to audition & their audition can be used.


  8. wordsurfer says:

    I really, really dislike any of those shows where people make themselves ridiculous, no matter if they are aware of it or not. What kind of society are we, that we take delight in people throwing away their human dignity?
    In theory, I’m totally with you, that being honest is the best and kindest way, but I’m not sure I always follow it in practice. I like complimenting people and I hope I always do it for something that deserves a compliment or a kind word. I don’t consciously tell them they look great when they look really bad, for example, but I’m not very critical. Also, maybe that means in reverse that I’m not honest enough about other things. Not sure about this.


    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      I think most people are torn between the kindness & honesty. I’ve just learned to keep my compliments strictly to what I like & enjoy about a person…even if it turns out to be their shoes…or to say nothing. But like my friends have learned over the years…don’t ask for my advice if you don’t want to hear the truth…I may be tactful, but I won’t lie. It simply doesn’t help anyone.


      • wordsurfer says:

        Yes, if specifically asked for advice, truth is a must. It’s always possible to say unpalatable truths in a way that it won’t hurt the other person. Like you did with that colleague – that was really tactful and non-confrontational.
        As for myself, I’d always rather hear the truth and in direct way, because for some reason, when it comes to myself, I can’t read or listen between the lines. So I need my friends to tell me things straight between the eyes and I very much appreciate people who do that.


  9. Jeff says:

    Not a big fan of Idol, myself. I used to like it, but they judge merry-go-round has really annoyed me, and I don’t care anything at all for Nikki Minaj or however it’s spelled. The “rivalry” that is supposed to happen between her and Mariah is already over-hyped. I may have to watch it, because my wife and daughter like it. Like you, I love The Voice (totally different format, which I’m very fond of), and I also like Smash.

    But probably the shows that get under my skin the most are the ones that create celebrities out of nobodies. Kardashians. The Hills. Jersey Shores. I say with great pride that I have never seen an episode of any of them, and never plan to. No one would ever have heard of Spencer, Heide, Jwoww, or Snooki. And the world would be a much better place.


    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      Oh, I hate that kind of reality tv. I don’t mind talent shows, cooking shows or shows about DIY or home improvement type things. I don’t even mind the shows about history or science…but I have absolutely no patience for shows that glamorize useless people who have done nothing to merit the attention they’ve been given…and that includes shows like The Bachelor(ette).
      I find shows like that to be time wasted…and much worse than a bad book. At least with a book, you’re engaging parts of your brain/imagination.


  10. bensbitterblog says:

    Another popular show that gets under my skin is Two and a Half Men. Do they ever do anything that is funny on that show? No and probably never will. I have never talked to anyone who has ever watched it. So is it old people in the midwest that fell asleep and just left their TV on?


  11. Jane Sadek says:

    Let’s face it. America is just mean. Look at how we love snarky sit coms. We love making fun of folks on reality TV. Stand up comedy is a license to cuss and critisize. I’m afraid I don’t like us much anymore.


    • Kitt Crescendo says:

      I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say mean, but I agree…there are plenty of sitcoms that get their storyline from being cruel or poking fun. I think that’s one of the reasons I like Big Bang Theory…though they have their snarky moments, it’s more about people with extremely high IQ’s trying to make their way in the everyday world where the language/values, etc can sometimes be a bit different. Does it have it’s snark moments? Sure. But I don’t really feel the kind of cruelty in that show that I do some of the other ones.

      As for stand up comedians…yeah…there aren’t a lot that are just truly funny these days without belittling or poor language.


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