February 17th, 2010
Last night the talent reality show "American Idol" eliminated the contestant Ms. Shelby Dressel from the competition as part of the competition’s customary contestant reduction enroute to an ultimate winner of the competition. Worthy of note, however, controversial talent judge Simon Cowell voiced his displeasure with the release of Ms. Dressel. While being an attractive young woman, apparently, Ms. Dressel was born with some type of facial disfigurement disability condition; most of which she has either outgrown or overcome (please don’t quote me on any of these specifics, ‘cause I don’t really know them for sure). But anyway, I blog to say that I disagree with the release of Ms. Dressel and her elimination was likely a huge mistake for the Idol competition – for whatever my opinion is worth.
Given the history of her condition, to rise to the level of being a qualifying contestant on American Idol, Ms. Dressel has shown a strength of character that seems to be somewhat lacking on our modern society. To overcome such a disability and to have to contend with such as a child, must have been difficult and trying throughout her life as well. I am aware that the American Idol competition is not about judging the contestant singers on strength of character alone, of course. But such a factor should have been given more weight in her judging, certainly at these early stages of the competition anyhow – again, in my opinion. With the exception of Judge Simon Cowell, the decision makers of American Idol should have reconsidered the elimination of Ms. Dressel.
To be clear, I am confident that Ms. Dressel asked for no pity or consideration of her condition with regards to the judging of her singing ability. I’m sure no pity was warranted either. However, though maybe not the ultimate best singer in the competition, Ms. Dressel could easily be a star as a result of her talent and compounded/strengthened by the fact that she has essentially overcome such a visible aesthetic handicap (as some of the condition still visibly exists). Furthermore, she could easily pose as a role model for others similarly afflicted. And, she had enough singing talent to justify her remaining in the competition as well as the necessary potential for growth and maturation of talent too.
In light of the draw in numbers of viewers the Idol competition pulls from the American public and revenues resulting from such as well, Idol was in a unique social position to effect a worthwhile and constructive change concerning the attitudes of Americans towards those with disabilities. But as has been recently shown time and time again, corporate-type America has little or no sympathy for those afflicted with any physical impairment regardless of any laws concerning such – and the court systems of our nation no longer seem to care to enforce disability laws either. (Such a disregard by the court system is especially so depending on who is ignoring the laws, like say in the case of any Federal employer or the likes.) Along this line of thought, Idol also seems to give little credence to the plight of those that suffer from physical ailments. Such a disregard of the difficulties overcome by those with disabilities was quite apparent in American Idol’s decision to eliminate Ms. Dressel.
Anyway, American Idol really ‘missed the boat’ with the release of Ms. Shelby Dressel, in my opinion. Idol could have made a significant impact in helping the disabled of our nation by recognizing the difficulties associated with disabilities. However, Idol chose to ignore the realities of the situation by attempting to turn an impartial blind eye to the special circumstances of the matter. To allow Ms. Dressel’s continuation in the competition would have caused American Idol no hardship. To be sure, Ms. Dressel’s continued presence in the competition could have brought further worthwhile attention to the plight of those that continually suffer with disabilities.
Either way, should she ever read these words, I personally would like to thank Ms. Dressel for having the courage, strength of character, and talent to come forward in this nationally televised singing competition. At a minimum, as a result of her obvious leadership strengths, others similarly afflicted may garnish the necessary fortitude to follow and overcome their difficulties as well. Kudos and best wishes to you, Ms. Dressel.
Adam Trotter / AVT