I got a kick out of a recent piece by Jon Caramanica in the NYT in which he not unfairly savaged Jennifer Lopez while simultaneously praising her ascendant value to American Idol.
Many of today’s “stars” have been manufactured, literally, by creative geniuses who cook up “product” for the voracious consuming public. Some acts are 100% pure fabrication, such as The Monkees (going way back to the 1960s) and modern-day “Boy bands” such as New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, and ‘N Sync. The unlikely career of Ms. Lopez is not far from this archetype.
With a media complex that serves its commercial consumerist master, we all live in a state of truth-deprivation (media conglomerates will have a magazine give rave reviews to a sister-studio’s new movie, etc.). How refreshing, then, when we get a description of an “artist” as they really are. Here are some highlights for a Saturday morning:
First the positive:
In just a couple of months she has become the most cogent, sensible and helpful judge “Idol” has ever had. In years to come gripes that the show has no new Simon Cowell may give way to complaints that there may be no proper substitute for Ms. Lopez.
And then the bridge:
It shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise: no one in the last decade or so has been as skilled in the art of star making as she is, a woman of modest talents who has nevertheless triumphed.
And then the reality, which, although harsh, may even be considered generous:
She’s a famous musician, though never a very good one, and a famous actress, though never a great one…
Ms. Lopez also has little history of singing lyrics with impact…
The heavily processed vocals on songs like “Good Hit” — “I got that good hit/ don’t you wish I was your boo?” — sound nothing like Ms. Lopez, an accomplishment, given that she has never had much vocal character.
Steven Tyler of Aerosmith also comes in for a barb that is hilarious:
or suffering the occasional lecherous remark from Mr. Tyler (who, in fairness, may not even be aware of the words he’s speaking).
All in all a refreshing take on a popular star and a popular show, neither of which will be remembered much.
But let’s finish on a positive note about Mr. Lopez’s talents: back toward the beginning of her career she burned up the screen in the movie U Turn, and no one can say she didn’t deliver in that crazy film. I think I need to watch it again. Wow.