Is Fifteen Too Young?
Posted by bebereader on Thursday, July 1, 2010
Recently American Idol lowered the age requirement from 16 to 15. This was the first change since 2005, when the age limit was raised from 24 to 28. If anything, I expected the age requirement to be raised up two years from 16 to 18.
David auditioned for American Idol when he was 16, requiring a tutor each day to work with him on schoolwork. He also needed a legal guardian since he was a minor. Clearly the producers realize that younger contestants on American Idol undergo the most pressure and are thrown into an adult world before they’re ready.
In “Chords of Strength”, David speaks candidly about the grueling demands placed on the American Idol contestants and, for those who were minors, the pressure was even more intense with the addition of three hours of school.
“The very thought of being on live television every week was incredibly stressful for all of us. No one…was ever relaxed. I know I constantly had that tense feeling in my shoulders. It was a lot of work and every day felt like a series of hurdles to get past with next to no time.”
“After that rehearsal, most people got to take a load off and have a rest, but of course I’d still have to go back to school.”
“Throughout all of these months, it seemed like we often times didn’t even have enough time to prepare for that week’s music, and the various random tasks that got added to our already crazy schedules made it very difficult to juggle everything….Most days started as early as five or six in the morning, and wouldn’t end until ten or eleven at night.”
“I felt like I was completely overwhelmed.”
“There was so much emotion surrounding these few last shows that between the crazy schedules and the levels of hysteria in the air, many times I didn’t know how I could possibly juggle it all.”
“From the moment I was announced as one of the Top 24, I went from being just David to David-Archuleta-on-American Idol. It felt like such a massive responsibility. All of a sudden people expected me not only to perform, but also to continually outdo myself.”
“You had to be ready for anything, and the one thing you knew for sure was that your life was completely dedicated to the show. It didn’t matter what the schedule was, you had to do what ever they said and be wherever they wanted you. There was not much wiggle room for anything, and because we were all committed, we just played along and did what we were told.”
“Things were moving so quickly and unexpectedly all the time, there was hardly ever any time to think.”
“Sleep had become scarce and I was exhausted all the time.”
“…there were many moments when I didn’t know if I would be able to handle another minute.”
“I spent all of my time between my hotel, the room where I studied and the studio. That’s it. I got so pale because I never saw sun. I started to forget what normal life felt like, and sometimes even got scared that I wouldn’t know how to readapt when it was time to go back.”
Besides David, there are just a few other teenagers who made it far in the competition; Jordin Sparks, who won the title at 17; Allison Iraheta, who made it to Top Ten at 17; and Fantasia Barinno, who won the title at 19. But they are the exceptions; most teenagers are not able to last very long. Unable to handle the pressure, we learned that often, some of the younger contestants burned out.
There are several possible reasons for this change. With failing ratings this past season, this change may be a way to make the show become relevant again and to get more young people to tune in. Or, maybe it’s an attempt to find the next great talented tween. Whatever the reason, I am opposed to this change. The pressure of standing in front of 30 million people and being judged is hard at any age, and has to be that much harder for younger contestants. Let kids be kids for as long as they can. Agree or disagree?