Oh, boy. In the least surprising turn of events in TV history, Wednseday's Season 12 premiere of "American Idol" showcased the tense dynamic between judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, whose alleged feud has come to overshadow all other aspects of the series. (Sorry, Keith Urban.) However, even with only one episode down, the feud has already gotten old.
That's right: instead of "American Idol's" contestants, the music, or even Nicki and Mariah's thoughts about singing, the duo's inability to maintain any aspect of professionalism has hijacked headlines. True, this guarantees ratings, but it's a poor, obvious ploy for publicity -- despite Minaj's claim that everything viewers are seeing is real.
Real or not, they're hardly the first coworkers not to get along. Daily, most people in the world come up against someone they don't exactly mesh with, but they're not likely to yell, verbally attack each other, or share with the public that they've increased personal security as a result.
But Minaj and Carey's feud is less about their actual behaviour and antics and more about what they represent. In addition to disrespecting each other, the pop stars are devaluing "American Idol's" contestants, making the show entirely about the judges as opposed to those aspiring for a singing career. Sure, the show has arguably placed a bigger emphasis on the judges since Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler joined the show in 2011, but the dynamic between those two didn't take away from the aspiring singers. If trends continue, "American Idol" Season 12 will mostly revolve around Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj -- not about who tried out, what the performances were like, or whether someone has a shot at the top ten. The show won't be about what it's supposed to be about.
The distracting feud also perpetuates the "diva" stereotype, fuelling the idea that two strong-minded, opinionated women can't work together without friction. A ridiculous idea, considering we just watched Amy Poehler and Tina Fey -- who are opinionated, strong-willed, and best friends -- co-host last weekend's Golden Globes beautifully. But the "American Idol" judges' antics overshadow that, re-affirming the "girl vs. girl" ethos, and maintaining the notion that women are unable to work together. (Because heaven forbid Mariah and Nicki join forces to help singers become the best they can be.)
Of course, TV audiences aren't immune from blame, either. The feud would likely diminish if media outlets stopped promoting it, if viewers stopped paying attention to it, and outbursts by Carey or Minaj were correctly seen as childish and distracting as opposed to glorious or empowering. And the faster "American Idol" fans begin to object to the franchise's latest publicity stunt, the faster both Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey will be able to show why they were chosen as judges to begin with. They're talented, award-winning musicians, remember?