Here’s the deal. There was a time when aspiring chefs and wrestlers would cook and/or smash their way to the top. Now, they’ve got reality shows to determine the next best whatever. There was a time when those who sought celebrity as a singer, dancer, or actress would earn it the old fashioned way – nepotism. Now, however, they compete for fame on TV. There was a time when people who wanted to grow up to be a magician or a ventriloquist would have someone with common sense talk them out of it. Now, they fight for votes to make it to the next round.
And all of that is good and well. I think we’re really headed in the right direction as a society.
I do, however, have a little problem with the arbitrary celebrity judges.
An interesting thing happens when you become famous. All of your random opinions are suddenly validated and deemed as important as you always secretly considered them to be. And television producers ask you to appear on their shows and judge people who you would have been completely unqualified to judge before you became a celebrity. Make sense? It’s not really supposed to.
A few examples.
A couple years ago, The Foo Fighters appeared on Top Chef as guest judges. I don’t know if the producers thought they were hiring The Food Fighters, or they just assumed that alternative rockers always have a discernible palate (then again, this is the same show that decided that Pee-wee Herman was equipped to speak to the finer points of high cuisine). Project Runway booked Apolo Ohno as a fashion judge. Because…I guess…short track Olympic speed skating is a natural stepping stone to designing a stunning evening gown? (Come on, what would it feel like to dedicate your life to this craft and then find that your fate was in the hands of the speedy ice guy with a goatee?)
Look, I’ve got nothing against these judges. I am, for example, a fan of Ellen DeGeneres. I just don’t have any idea why her background in comedy qualifies her to judge someone’s singing ability. And what were the creators of America’s Got Talent thinking when they hired David Hasselhoff? Who was it that thought that the Hoff was fit to judge…talent?
All I’m saying is, we probably give our celebrities enough credit without also deciding that they are now officially experts on everything. And, besides, they’ve got jobs to do. There are day time talk shows to be hosted. There are beaches to be protected. There is Foo to be fought. Let us not distract the famous by asking them to judge the rest of us.