Prisoners are persons whom most of us would rather not think about. Banished from everyday sight, they exist in a shadow world that only dimly enters our awareness. They are members of a "total institution" that controls their daily existence in a way that few of us can imagine. "[P]rison is a complex of physical arrangements and of measures, all wholly governmental, all wholly performed by agents of government, which determine the total existence of certain human beings (except perhaps in the realm of the spirit, and inevitably there as well) from sundown to sundown, sleeping, walking, speaking, silent, working, playing, viewing, eating, voiding, reading, alone, with others. . . ." It is thus easy to think of prisoners as members of a separate netherworld, driven by its own demands, ordered by its own customs, ruled by those whose claim to power rests on raw necessity. -- Justice William Brennan, dissenting in O’Lone v. Estate of Shabazz, 482 U.S. 342, 354-55 (1987).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

American Idol - The Prison Vote

I had perhaps the most unique seat in the country watching American Idol tonight -- me and perhaps 60-80 federal inmates in the Visitor's Room of FPC Pensacola. The VR is a popular TV room for most of the white inmates. (It seems the black inmates use the smaller TV rooms in the dorms to watch basketball and BET, so you could say it's not really segregated by race, but by what people want to watch.)

Several observations:
  1. Poor Sanjaya has become such an object of ridicule that he can't get a fair chance each week. People are laughing at him before he opens his mouth. His reputation colors people's impression of his performance. It is the "Emperor's New Clothes" phenomenon -- it would take a lot of courage for someone other than a tween girl to acknowledge a good performance, although the judges, to their credit, gave him his due this week.
  2. Too bad for Haley that prisoners don't have access to cell phones. She is probably losing 1,000,000 votes per week from male inmates who love her legs, even if she can't sing as well as the other 3 girls.
  3. LaKisha dancing was met with snickers.
  4. Melinda is right - she's not sexy. But she may be the nicest and most talented. It's time to get over the "deer-in-the-headlights" look every time she finishes a song, as if she can't believe everyone loves her. She needs to act like she deserves it. LaKisha has more confidence and maturity.
  5. Jordin and Blake were the best tonight and the most popular with the inmates. Some of the Latin guys liked Blake's performance in particular.
  6. According to an informal poll, here at FPC Pensacola, Phil and Haley will be the next two to go, followed by Sanjaya and Chris. The top 4 are pretty clear: Melinda, LaKisha, Jordin and Blake. I think any of them could win. I wish they could just cut to the Final Four and let them play it off for a few weeks.

PS I think prison is bringing out my inner "Simon Cowell."

1 comment:

Paul Eilers said...

The winner of American Idol this past season was Kris Allen - from my hometown.

When he made the final three, it was neat to go downtown and watch him in the parade, as well as the free concert.


Eat Well. Live Well.