Why do people audition for American Idol?

In less than two weeks, a parade of talented and talentless American Idol 5 contestants will begin their walk of shame/fame across our television screens. So why, exactly, do people audition? WebMD answers this question, but instead of giving us some amazing new medical disorder, such as Famewhorus Maximus, mostly just redefines “stating the obvious.”

For example, Marjorie Brody tells WebMD that there are two groups of people: Those who “think they have talent,” and “those who don’t have a lot of talent and may know it, but who crave a lot of attention.” Um, duh. She also notes that there may be a third group. “I think people try out on a dare. I don’t have evidence of that,” she said. Those people are also known as “drunk frat boys.”

A UCLA clinical psychiatrist, Carole Lieberman, tells WebMD that going on the show is a quick way to get famous. Again, duh. “Even if you don’t win, you still get opportunities. Just being on once gets you seen by more people than would see you in 10 years of trying to break in,” she says.

She does add that contestants may want attention that their parents never gave them. “I treat a lot of entertainers. Part of them feels rejected, so they may suffer from a repetition compulsion, meaning they keep setting themselves up for rejection again and again,” she says. Much to our delight and/or consternation, those people now have a way to work out their issues on national television.

Why Contestants Go on American Idol [WebMD]

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

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Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.