Unless you live under a rock, chances are you’ve heard by now the hype from American Idol, America’s Got Talent, America’s Next Top Model, America’s Best Dance Crew, etc., etc., etc. The list goes on to the point where one could easily get the impression that the TV talent search begins and ends in America – but that would be a serious misconception.
Despite its overwhelming popularity in the region, it would be a mistake to think that similar shows in other countries are all just loaners from the US— or the UK, for that matter. Instead, these shows are often a “multikulti” hodge-podge of global origins in whatever country they’re broadcast.
Like many countries on the western front, the vicious hoards of televised talent shows have also invaded the German-speaking world in search of fresh meat – er, talent.
Want proof? Here’s a sampling platter of “The top 5 most embarrassing performances” on Deutschland Sucht Den Superstar (Germany seeks superstar). By the way, you don’t need to speak German to watch these and wince. Humiliation is pretty much universal.
In the year 2000, for example, Germany’s Popstars became the first in the arena of German-speaking TV talent searches after phenomenal success in New Zealand, where it originated, and in Australia.
Two years later, the UK’s Pop Idol roughly translated to Deutschland Sucht Den Superstar (DSDS) in Germany. The brainchild of producer and talent scout Simon Fuller, the Idol-concept spawned an entire family of Idol-worshippers from A to W (Australian to West Africa). The show was a huge hit in Germany, turning ordinary citizens like Alexander Klaws into insta-stars.
And if imitation is the highest form of flattery, then parody must be the highest form of self-deprecating humor.
For example: German musician and entertainer Stefan Raab used the success of DSDS as a model for Stefan Sucht Den Super-Grand-Prix-Star (SSDSGPS), using the acronym to semantically poke fun at the onslaught of reality talent shows in his homeland.
In 2007, Raab even took it one step further with the show SSDSDSSWEMUGABRTLAD —Stefan sucht den Superstar, der singen soll, was er moechte, und gerne auch bei RTL auftreten darf! Translation: Stefan seeks superstar, who should sing what he likes and is also welcome to perform on the station RTL! I’d like to hear someone try to say that acronym ten times fast.
Jokes aside, however, the casting show invasion into pop culture has its share of serious critics (besides Simon Cowell). In fact, because of its widespread popularity, some experts worry the trend has a negative impact on its audience, especially young women.
Mit Castingshows wie Germany’s Next Topmodel, Popstars und DSDS kam auch der auch der Hype der Mädchen, sich modisch zu kleiden und mehr Wert auf ihr Äußeres zu legen, als auf ihre Fähigkeiten.
With castings shows like Germany’s Next Topmodel, Popstars and DSDS comes also the hype for girls to dress fashionably and to place more emphasis on their appearance than on their abilities.
An article in Der Westen even cites a study that shows young girls base their sense of self-worth on looks, while young boys base their worth on actions. According to one expert, this means gender roles are retrogressing, despite decades of attempts by enlightened parents and educators to overthrow these outdated “role clichés”.
It’s good to know that here in America we’re combating these stereotypical roles and placing more emphasis on competence in our reality star searches. Don’t believe me? Just check out this clip from America’s Most Smartest Model.