Friday, May 04, 2007

For Ryan Seacrest, an Ode...

I was going to do this is pentameter with an ABBA CDDE rhyme scheme, but damned if I can remember what all that shit was about.

I used to know it. I used to know not only the common parts of speech, but those uncommon--and therefore kinda cute. A friend told me the other day that her son could use my help because he was studying metaphors and similes. All I could think--it popped into my head like a blinking neon sign--was FOS. Figures of Speech. And then the next blink: Tropes. Which is what FOS actually are. I kept silent, though, because she's a new friend and I didn't want to scare her away.

So I was going to do my encomium to Ryan Seacrest as an ode. But first I had to Google odes and when I saw all the stuff about meter and rhyme schemes, I was like: Oh, yeah, vaguely, I remember that. It was not unlike the time I had to write an article about orgasm during a multi-year dry (um huh) spell. Oh, yeah, I remember that, vaguely.

Thus, my Ode to Ryan Seacrest has died aborning, and this rather pedantic piece of prose will has to suffice.

In all of the huge keffuffle (now there's a word they taught us in grad school) over American Idol, no one ever mentions Ryan. Other than to quibble with his clothing or the closeness of his shave. The focus in AI is always on the contestants and the judges. Who was good, who should be sent home. Or the relative merits of Randy and Paula as judges compared to the great god Simon.

True, all of these people are elements of what makes AI the success that it is. They are the characters in the drama that is played out each week. But a play takes a playwright and since AI is live and unedited, that dramaturge to a great extent is Ryan Seacrest. His script is minimal; timing and segues are probably all he has in front of him. He's got to take each moment of drama or trauma and make it entertaining. Do you know how hard that it to do? How quick-witted he has to be? How aware of all aspects of the show, past, present and future? How verbally apt and psychodynamically able he has to be?

Take the other night, for example (no, you take it, no you--). I think it happened when Jordin finished singing. Randy has done his "Yo" thing and Paula had clapped her pitty pitty hands when Simon, in full roar, absolutely eviserated Jordin. Not that what he was saying wasn't true. Not that Jordan didn't already know it. But for some reason--and who knows with Simon--he felt the need to grind it in. Take his thumb and really pulverize to a paste.

It was, to say the least, an awkward moment. And that is one of Ryan's tasks--to smooth over the awkward moment. To save the contestant, to make the audience feel comfortable with the tension. He did it this time by making some comment about Simon, that tangentially maybe sortof could be assumed to allude to his girl friend. And Simon smacked back.

He took, as the Brits say, "the hump" and got all "pissy" (as they also say). I'm not going to answer your question, he told Ryan, because you were just rude about my girlfriend. I want you to apologize for insulting her. They got into a bit of a pissing contest what with the no I didn't yes you dids flying back and forth for what seemed like forever. Would Ryan apologize? Would Simon back off? No, and yes.

The easiest thing for Ryan to do would have been to apologize. Everyone could have gone back to breathing and nothing would have been lost. Except for Ryan's ability to control Simon, which is mandatory to the success of the show. Ryan has to humanize Simon for the audience, and he has to do it while not alienating Simon himself. It's a tricky tightrope wire he walks there, and he does it admirably.

Thus, my non-ode. Ryan earns his money, and probably more. The show, without him, would not be AI, as is true, of course, of Simon as well. The contestants will come and go, Paula and Randy may fade away, but Ryan and Simon: without them, AI would be just another amateur hour. Simon gets the accolades for this all the time. Ryan doesn't. So I wanted to say so.


  1. I totally agree. The banter between Simon & Ryan is part of the entertainment. Now Randy is rather blah to me...he could fade big loss. But I enjoy a good laugh from a bumbling Paula :)

  2. I need to actually watch AI. I had no idea I was missing so much.

  3. You're right. I don't give him nearly enough credit. Maybe because there's something kind of Stepford-like about him, IMHO.

  4. fenicle: yeah, especially this season Randy seems to be fading, while Paula is at least making an effort to come up with something constructive.

    queen: definitely you must watch -- it's popular culture, which is fodder for your blog! c'mon over tuesday night at 8 and wed. at 9

    slouching mom: I know what you mean by stepford...sometimes he does get this kinda set smile and does something funnny when he talks--but still...


So--whaddaya think?