Actually, I want to address this "male eye roll" thing.
Men in general, the average man on the street, has been reluctant to embrace Idol (also "America's Next Top Model" and "Project Runway," the class shows of their ilk) as anything but an obligation to keep the little woman sitting next to him on the couch. Can you imagine a bunch of bruisers crowded around the TV set with beer and pizza, yelling "Atta girl, LaKisha!" with no estrogen around?
Most men think "American Idol" is a fad, and a cheesy fad at that--it IS cheesy much of the time--but hold on. What's the difference between spending two hours watching grass grow at a Dodger game and spending two hours watching Paula clap her hands together like a little kid?
Both are competitions. People who want to win do their best to beat out other people who want to win.
Both have created job opportunities for unknown talents and for people who aren't "the talent."
Both can be classified as "reality TV"--whatever that means. We get to watch semi-amateurs and paid professionals vie to stay in the game as long as they can and set up opportunities (contracts, endorsements, trips to Japan) for more glorious futures.
Both draw audiences from all walks of life, all ages, with all kinds of music tastes, though most have never heard of emo, trance, techno, techno-emo, underground emo, Crunk, etc.
Both competitions are seen in person or on TV.
Both are watched live or taped. It's still the director who chooses what we see.
Both create a "culture" including adjunct TV shows, media events, and bigger competitions.
Both are "topics of conversations" whenever we run into people we don't have much to say to.
Both feature people who can hit it out of the park and thrill us.
Both are loved because of the unpredictability of the competition.
Both are loved because of the drama of the competition.
Both give us "heroes" and make us fans.
Both give us flawed human beings who annoy and disappoint us.
Both feature people we wonder "How the hell did this person get this far?" At least on "American Idol," Sanjaya wasn't paid a million dollars for every missed lay-up.
Both contain life lessons about perserverence, passion, self-confidence, as well as disappointment, manipulation, and self-doubt.
Both are metaphors for life.
And both gave us its own version of Paula Abdul: Laker girl and "American Idol" judge. Now isn't that a life lesson in itself?
Okay okay now EVERYONE is rolling their eyes.