Southern Pride and American Idol

American Idol LogoThis is something I hate to admit, but I am an American Idol fan. Yes, it's true. My wife and I both are hooked.

Today's Washington Post may have unlocked the mystery of why we like the show so much. It turns out that the most successful people on the show are southerners who learned to sing in church. Here's an excerpt:

For five years, the most wildly popular talent contest on American television has been dominated — thoroughly, totally and completely — by kids from Southern Hicksville, USA. Seven of the eight top-two finishers in the first four years were from states that once formed the Confederacy, and five of the seven remaining finalists this season are, too.


Home towns of winners and runners-up: Burleson, Tex. Columbus and Snellville, Ga. Birmingham and Huntsville, Ala. Chapel Hill and High Point, N.C. The lone outsider in the top tier, last year's winner, Carrie Underwood, only emphasizes the point — she hails from Checotah, Okla. (pop. 3,400). This is Merle Haggard, "Okie From Muskogee" territory. . .

It is tempting to draw the cultural connection here. Southern kids grow up singing in churches and small-town festivals in a region that emphasizes the voice, whether in storytelling or song, and thus are possessors of raw cultural gifts (source).

The story goes on to downplay the cultural connection, but I think it may nevertheless be correct. Clearly the most talented and cultured people in America are from the south. Or, perhaps I am merely invoking my southern pride in an unconscious attempt to defend my taste for what would otherwise be considered a pretty goofy show.

In either case, the South still rocks. šŸ™‚


19 thoughts on “Southern Pride and American Idol”

  1. AMEN! I also have to admint my wife and I frequently watch. And for the whole southerners have the best voices theory, I think it is dead on the button! It is just too bad that most of these idols are tore from their perverbial roots in the church and turn into what we teach our children not to be. thats just a theory but it does hold some water.

  2. to quote Charlie D.

    “the souths gonna do it again”, “we’ll be talkin real loud and walkin real proud again”

    I luv me some CDB…

    My wife and I are big fans as well! In fact she, my wife, tells me to cut my sermon short on Wednesday nights, in order that we will make it home in time to watch our IDOLS? She only says this jokingly, I assure you of that.


  3. Oh the shame! Yes, we all watch it despite trying our best be in the closet about it. I’m holding onto the notion that I’m secure in my manliness by refusing to vote for my favorite contestant.

  4. I embrace my AI adoration. I also watched a post-interview with the recently departed Bucky. Although it was definitely time to go, he was about as humble a person as you’ll find. It was like watching Goober leave Mayberry and come to LA to compete. He was ready to go back home and pet his dog and go fishing. I was then that I realized that the south and the small town world definitely dominates this competition.

  5. I am disturbed that Christians would watch a show that is so blatently blasphemous. The name of the show tells it all. It is no wonder that the devotional lives of so many saints are in such poor shape. Of course they don’t have time to pray – they’re too busy watching TV!!! When the leaders of the church cannot discern such blatent sin, we are all in bad shape.

    Since when is it okay to joke about cutting church short and watching IDOLS? Trust me, I get the joke, and I even think it’s a little funny. But the nature of the humor should give away the truth…we all know we shouldn’t watch such trash, and that is the reason that so many Christian fans are “in the closet” about the TV shows they watch.

    May God grant grace and repentance to us…

  6. Ben in the day and age of this cultural war we live in, i understand the serious inquiry you have related from your post. HOWEVER, its just all in fun, also the IDOLS that you speak of are not worshiped in the conotation that you have likened them to. I do agree that some of our church is in serious disrepair because of the media culture. i would recommend an amazing book that exposes this issue with the TV. If you watch TV and your a Christian you MUST READ Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves To Death”. His treatment of the TV culture and its effects are astonishing.

  7. Hey Ben,
    I read on your blog that you enjoy hunting and playing chess. Hmmm? Shouldn’t you be praying?

    Now insted of playing chess or hunting I watch the show where southerners show off ther singing voices. Four weeks ago, on that IDOL show, I heard the Gospel presented in song. A woman sang a song about Jesus, I probably shouldn’t have watched that….?

    I am hoping that you are just kidding around, but even if your not I love you and I am willing to consider my brothers opinion. So I will spend some time praying about this.

    God bless,

  8. particularly note these quotes:
    ” suspect there are two aspects of Idol which have served to make it such a success. The first is that it points very clearly to the cult of fame and celebrity that so fascinates the modern West. In the televised interviews with the contestants a couple of points emerge as particularly striking. First, the contestants want to be famous; and, second, almost all of them feel they are especially destined to be so…

    The idolatry embodied in American Idol is thus twofold. First, that of the contestants, who want fame as if fame was something worth the effort. Yet fame is only so to the extent that it deceives us into thinking we are indispensable and important, as it allows us to realize our latent idolatry of self. Second, that of the viewer, who rejoices at the sight of others being told, in no uncertain terms, that they are talentless, dispensable laughing-stocks, that they are not, in short, gods. Not as good as being god yourself, of course, but seeing others denied divinity is probably the next best thing.

    Blessings, Joe B

  9. A few things:

    First, let me state that in my previous comment I intentionally overstated my case in order to generate conversation. Therefore, I appreciate the charitable reads of those who guessed (correctly) that I was “just kidding.”

    However, this is only half-true. I really do think that Jesus would not be a fan of such as show. Pursuit of fame and fortune were not exactly high on Christ’s priority list. We should not be quick to laud with honor those whose ethic is contrary to that of Jesus.

    As for the gospel being preached – good point. But remember, just because God works all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purposes does not mean that everything we do is good. He works even our bad out for our good. Caedmon’s Call sings a great song on this. So, what’s my point? Just becuase someone is going to preach the gospel at a strip club does not redeem the strip club itself, nor does it warrant our attendance in case someone gives their life to Christ.

    Fundamentally, my point is this: the way that the church is seeking to interact with culture is not biblical. We cannot reach the lost if we look like they do. Frequently, we (Christians) discuss how people will see that there is something different about us, but are we truly different? I posit we are not, at least not noticably. Are we not called to be a peculiar people? But, if we’re honest, we dress like the world, eat like the world, watch the same TV shows the world watches, etc. The only difference we have is church on Sunday morning. As A.W. Tozer preached, we think that everyhing we do is sanctified because we add a prepositional phrase to our motivation – we do it “for Jesus.”

    So, yes, in part I am serious. I do not, nor will I, watch American Idol. I don’t even have cableI prefer to do other things with my time. Dr. Piper articulates my position very well, I think. Or, I should say, I’ve adopted his stance. While I don’t think TV is ontologically evil, I do think (as a rule) there are better ways for saints to be “redeeming the time, for the days are evil.”

    I hope I havn’t offended anyone – that’s not my goal. This isn’t my blog, so I won’t push this any more. Please forgive me if I’ve spoken out of turn.

    In need of grace myself more than all others,

  10. hey Ben,

    throw me a stone, I mean a bone….

    I do agree with your comments, to a degree. We all need to be spending more time with God and in His Word.

    Comment: It can be sinful to read blogs, even a blog on theology. God must be first priority!

    Question: Can prayer or Bible study become sinful. I have heard some testify to this fact, but I have never seen it discussed.

    I will put an article up on my blog,, and we can discuss this there.


  11. Good point. I guess my issue is with this show, not with TV in general. And yes, I do think we could idolize the Bible instead of God. If you want, read the article Dr. Burk references with a link in his other post on “American Idolatry,” then read the pithy comment I made as to why this particular show is what I have in view here.

    Glad to know things are okay here – the last thing I wanted was to start a war and make fellow brethren my enemies.

    Peace in the Middle East,

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