“Idol Gives Back” Gives Us Controversy, Takes Up Way Too Much Space On Our DVR

Maura | April 10, 2008 - 9:30 am

AP080406028359.jpgI’ll confess: Thanks to a demanding blogging schedule and something resembling a vague sense of dread, I still haven’t watched all of “Idol Gives Back” yet. It was long–and that was before it ran overtime! (Seriously, a pretaped television program running over? Why not just start it at 7, and pre-empt that awful TMZ show?) But I have gone around the Web looking for reactions to and highlights from last night’s episode, which raised $22 million during its runtime, and I found quite a few–from virulent reactions to the religious overtones to eye-rolling at Robin Williams trotting out Russian jokes for the 5,486th time. A few selected clips and rants after the jump.

1. Does using a song from Rent and closing the show with the evangelical anthem “Shout To The Lord” send out mixed messages to viewers at home? Rickey at Idol megablog rickey.org sure thinks so:

Think about that when you listen to the finale song “Shout to the Lord” which is one of the anthems of the born-again movement in the world — a movement which does not support contraception and is intolerant towards gays and people with HIV/AIDS.

I am so offended. I am so angry. American Idol should have known better and not inject religious undertones to their annual fund-raiser. Saving children in Africa and New Orleans has nothing to do with the Christian god. What were they thinking? Bah!

While I agree with Rickey on pretty much all these points, I have to wonder if he’s been watching the same show that I have all this time. There is so much Americanized Christianity all over American Idol year-in and year-out–from “Jesus, Take The Wheel” to more subtle Lordy references–that if anything not having some sort of awkward Christian shout-out on the big charity extravaganza would seem odder.

2. Continuing with the religion theme, Fox exhibited a weird sort of ecumenism when it came to giving airtime to its rival networks’ stars. As Michelle Kung at the Huffington Post noted, the presence of Jimmy Kimmel and Teri Hatcher resulted in ABC’s shows being more cross-promoted than Fox’s, although I guess having Gordon Ramsay show up to tell everyone they were idiots would probably have killed the mood. I’m guessing that the heavy ABC presence was the result of favor-trading to get American Idol non-watcher Miley Cyrus on the show. Speaking of which…

3. Miley wouldn’t be “just bein’ Miley” if she didn’t use this night of charity to shamelessly self-promote.

I just realized how much this song sounds like the Pet Shop Boys’ “Rent.”

4. People still think Robin Williams making Russia jokes is funny? What year is this? Did Yakov Smirnoff cancel at the last minute?

5. Charlie Wilson of the Gap Band brought it. I wonder if the Idol hopefuls were taking notes.

[Videos via MJ’s Big Blog]
[Photo: AP]