It's not every day a showdown between an unknown waiter from Kingston, Ontario and a wedding singer from Cherry Brook, Nova Scotia could incite so much excitement.
Ryan Malcolm is the first ever Canadian Idol after 3.3 million votes and countless jammed phone lines. Televisions from Victoria to St. John's were tuned to ctv on Tues., Sept. 16., patiently waiting two hours to find out which unknown would be catapulted to Canadian stardom and a lucrative record deal.
You wouldn't generally admit to following a show like this to your friends, but admit it, it was interesting, wasn't it? Watching sometimes less-than-mediocre, and sometimes quite good, talent belting their hearts out and then getting voted off? While not all the talent was stellar-how Gary made it that far is a mystery unexplained by reason-it had a unifying effect.
In a time when divisive issues such as same-sex marriage and the upcoming battle on the decriminalization of marijuana dominate the social agenda, Canadian Idol is a panacea, bringing strangers across the country together, cheering and voting for their favourite Idol.
While detractors simply claimed that this would be a mock federal election, one look at the message boards on the ctv website offers another view. Threads with titles such as "Bravo Ryan… from Quebec" and "Proud to be Canadian; seeing the talent within," speak volumes. Others made their point more succinct: "We don't vote only for local favourites. I know that Ryan… had many Atlantic Canadian fans." Clearly, regional lines were broken in support, Ontario didn't hand Ryan the win.
Don't get me wrong, however. I'm not saying Canadian Idol is the ultimate cure-all for all that ails Canada. The divisiveness among fans of the show is a reflection of Canadian society. On these same message boards, bitterness arose from fans from different regions, accusing fans from other regions of many unfounded and usually immature accusations. Each of the Top 11 Idols had their own armies of hometown fans, with loyal bastions spread thinly across the nation. The results boiled down to could jam the phone lines or pound out text messages faster.
Overall, every fan shares one pursuit, and there lies the unifying factor bringing Canadians together from coast-to-coast. Showcasing home-grown talent (no matter how stellar or bottom-of-the-barrel) is far superior to the "talent" [[Lawrence: "superior to," "better than"-KR]] the two seasons of American Idol have showcased. Ruben Studdard's appearance on the finale was uninspired, dull, boring and flat, a sharp contrast to Ryan, and even Gary's, performances. Perhaps this could be an accurate reflection of contrast between the talent on Canadian and American Idols.
If an mp such as Rahim Jaffer was willing to use Parliament's time to make a speech about it, then there has to be something else working here.
It may just be a tv show, but beyond the glamour, glaring spotlights and the television cameras, there is definitely something more to Canadian Idol. For one, I'd rather watch it than American Idol.