Pro wrestling insiders refer to their pseudo-sport with a predetermined outcome as a ‘work’ and the elaborate storylines designed to create ‘heat’ for the matches are called ‘angles’. These are good words to know as it looks like the producers of ‘American Idol’ may have taken a page out of pro wrestling’s playbook and ‘worked’ a feud between judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj to generate publicity which they can hopefully translate into higher ratings.
First, a little backstory–as everyone knows ‘American Idol’ has been a huge hit for Fox TV and become a fixture of American television programming. That being said, it could be growing a little stale. The ratings for last year’s edition of ‘American Idol’ were the lowest since the reality show’s debut season and many people are growing tired of the format which has been copied and adapted by countless shows since. So if the producers can’t really change the format without rebooting the entire franchise they need to find a way to heat up the current formula and once again make it ‘must see TV’?
What better way to do that than a hardcore feud between a couple of the judges? Enter the Minaj/Carey tiff which is a perfect storyline…er ‘angle’…to get publicity and viewers tuning in to watch the trainwreck if nothing else. You’ve got the ‘old school’ artist Carey who appeals to a older demographic in one corner. In the other corner you’ve got the ‘new school’ Minaj who likes to act ‘street’ and ‘gangsta’ (that’s laughable, but given the mainstream audience of this show they won’t be any the wiser).
From the looks of it the ‘Idol’ producers have taken a disagreement between the two judges–basically a staple of the show during it’s entire run–and spun it into a big deal. And the mainstream media not being overly sophisticated at sniffing out this kind of a ruse swallows it hook, line and sinker. Meanwhile both women–and ‘AI’ staff members–are downplaying the severity of the incident but everyone knows how the media works: the original story gets front page treatment but the retraction or followup gets buried.
Meanwhile, the firestorm of publicity over the feud continues with all sorts of news outlets breathlessly giving reports of gun violence, beefed up security and other histrionics. The new season of ‘American Idol’ doesn’t start for several months so it remains to be seen whether the hype will mean more viewers.