My Dear Reader,
When I came home from college to visit my family and have surgery, I was surprised to discover that everybody, parents included, could talk about nothing other than American Idol. I haven't watched television regularly for the past four years, as I've discovered that switching my cable bill for a Netflix account greatly facilitated my academic endeavors, and by that I mean that it kept me away from the television long enough to help me actually get my homework done. So this whole thing about keeping up with shows on a weekly basis is nearly impossible for me.
So last week, I had absolutely no idea that two of the contestants on this season of American Idol were supposedly Mormon: David Archuleta and Brooke White. I knew that there had been Mormon contestants on the show before, but I was initially skeptical (as anyone who hears the "they might be Mormon" rumors ought to be) but these two seemed to check out. David is from Murray, Utah (where his odds of being LDS are roughly seven out of ten), and Brooke is from Mesa, Arizona (where her odds, I believe, are even higher). In addition, both of them had that squeaky-clean persona and played piano, which for reasons yet unknown to mankind made it even more likely. When I found out that they were both listed on famousmormons.net, my skepticism was satisfied. While I really liked both contestants, the person who really stood out to me at first was Brooke, who was almost my age, sang some of my all-time favorite songs, and had the nerve to wear sleeves on television, something that the most popular celebrities today don't dare to do.
I know what you might be thinking, that "nerve" and "daring" might not be the right words to use when describing someone who publicly admitted that she's never watched an "R" rated movie or had alcohol, but considering that she was standing in front of America and openly displaying values that don't exactly come in the "rock star" stereotype, I have to say that Brooke White had guts. What's more, she had guts in the right place--guts to do what she believed was right, no matter who was watching. After I began to understand the kind of person that Brooke was, I was easily hooked, and I went through all of her performance videos on AmericanIdol.com. And that was when I learned that she was a gutsy girl who could sing. My two absolute favorites were "I Am . . . I Said" from the top five week and "Jolene" from the top nine week, which proved that she had what it took to be where she was. And while she never drew attention her religious views, her Mormon values were just as visible as the sleeves she wore in every appearance.
What I think Brooke did the best was be normal. She was unique, that was for sure, but at the same time, there was an openness and an honestly to her that made you believe that being like Brooke was something real and human. There's this idea that Mormons--especially those who care about the Word of Wisdom or modesty--can't possibly be real, normal people. I've heard dozens of people say that the Mormon lifestyle is impossible to live, especially if you don't want to stand out as a freak. And if Mormons could never be real people, they certainly could never become famous, since sleeves just don't belong on a red carpet. But Brooke broke the rules. Brooke made it all the way to the top five out of thousands, and at the same time became the kind of role model that LDS people hunger and thirst for. That's why I was really upset when she was voted off last week.
Now, as a vocalist, I don't really think that she was the undisputed best out of the five, but I do think that she deserved to get farther than she did (as opposed to one dreadlocked contender I could mention, who seems to have given up weeks ago). But she said herself that she is more of a singer/songwriter than a rock star, and that is one thing that I would love to see. In fact, I am so impressed with Brooke that I almost want to go see her when the American Idol tour comes to a city near me. Though I don't think I'm going to be able to make it, I'd definitely buy any album that Brooke came out with, especially if she wrote the songs herself. In fact, I'd do just about anything to ensure that Brooke continues to have the kind of success that she recently experienced on television, not only because she's incredibly talented, but also because I know that she has mastered the kind of heroic morality that people need to see in the spotlight. People, Mormon or not, need to see that a person can be themselves (sleeves and all) and still be successful. Here's hoping that Brooke continues to be just as inspiring in the future.
Regards, best wishes, and the wearing of shoulder coverings,