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ENTERTAINMENT 'Idol' offers an escape



Published: Sun, February 9, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Teens don't want to face troubles that they know are not going to go away.

By STEVE YANDA

KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS

This is no ordinary competition. Candidates are brought in from across the country, and in a matter of months, hundreds of thousands of applicants are narrowed down to a small group of finalists.

Professionals prepare these aspirants for the drastic lifestyle change that they will endure if selected.

Judges choose only those who will best represent their cause, as the top two participants are given the opportunity to travel, campaigning their talents in front of the entire country.

One of these hopefuls will become the center of attention in the public eye, the focus of the national spotlight. Their decisions will affect the way people young and old interact with one another. Their popularity will fluctuate on a daily basis according to their production level.

Millions of people across the country will vote to decide which of these two contenders will become the next "American Idol."

Priorities of youth

The recent success of the television show "American Idol" (a new season is under way on Fox), designed to seek out domestic talent and spark a career in the music industry, is yet another example of the values and priorities of today's younger generation.

With all of the serious issues facing the world, and especially the United States, such as terrorism, hunger and disease, why is so much attention being given to a materialistic display of influence like "American Idol & quot;?

Modern teens pay more attention to stars of the entertainment industry because they do not want to deal with the concerns of the real world.

The recent struggle to get young voters into the booths during the last presidential election is proof enough. Many teens were too busy keeping up with the latest trends to concern themselves with who would be a better leader for their country.

The violence, tragedy and dilemmas of the world are all simply too depressing for teenagers who have a full plate as it is. Balancing homework, sports, drama, band, debate and, most importantly, a social life, forces many teens to arrange their priorities in an order that upsets many members of the older generations.

Here's the attitude

Today's youth would rather focus on the insignificant public leaders of modern society: sports stars, pop artists and other entertainment icons.

This is not to say that this is the right state of mind for teens; the problems facing the country and the world are serious ones that need to be dealt with by the fairest of hands.

The young generation, however, would rather leave the task of solving these issues up to adults than face the cold truth that these troubles will not go away.

The decisions that are made in dealing with the crises of the modern society are likely to affect teen-agers more than they will the older generations. This point is one that is either ignored or vainly unknown to today's youth.

As long as foreign and domestic struggles exist, teens will continue to search for a more satisfying counterpart.

As long as teens need that distraction from reality, "American Idols" will continue to rise from such ironic venues as television shows.

Teens are letting their voices be heard; the rest of society is just not listening.

XSteve Yanda is a sophomore at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Mo., and a writer for the Kansas City Star's TeenStar section. Send him e-mail at teenstar@kcstar.com.




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