The big news in the entertainment world this week has been all about American Idol — who will be the judges for next season? Simon’s out, Ellen’s out, J.Lo’s out, but Steven Tyler is (reportedly) in the mix. Yawn. Well, even though I no longer watch the show, I am here to make my plea. American Idol, please bring back… PAULA ABDUL!
Abdul was with Idol from the very beginning, ever since its auspicious start in 2002. She was there back when Simon Cowell was still an unknown British crank, and Ryan Seacrest was just the spiky-haired sidekick to Brian Dunkleman. Throughout the years, Abdul established herself in Idol circles as the sweet, caring, and often-incapacitated judge.
While Abdul was often criticized by critics for not being critical enough, this criticism is ultimately flawed (kind of like this sentence). Although Abdul’s contribution to the judging panel was limited, her presence truly transcended American Idol. With Paula, she wasn’t just there for the music. Instead, she was so much more. She brought critical issues to the forefront, opened dialogue on everything from healthcare reform to prescription drugs, and spearheaded long-needed change to America.
Some examples of her most important work:
A Leading Proponent of Healthcare Reform: In 2005, Abdul landed on the cover of People Magazine, detailing her “Medical Nightmare.” In the article, she discussed the chronic pain from an old cheerleading injury that led to some of her bizarre Idol behavior (eg. slurring her words, falling asleep, clapping as if she had flippers instead of hands). Although she didn’t say it explicitly, Abdul was making an unmistakable call for reform. After all, if one of the wealthier women in the country can’t get adequate care, then how is Joe the Plumber going to survive? Plumbing is more taxing than cheerleading, you know. And now, five years later, we have universal healthcare. Thank you, Paula “Pelosi” Abdul.
A Feminist Beacon: Controversy arose when dismissed season 2 contestant Corey Clark claimed that he had a 3-month affair with Abdul during the show’s taping. His book, “Sex, Lies, and Paulatics” not only stretched the homophonic properties of the English language, but also exposed a potentially sordid side of Idol. However, (if true) the affair only revealed that Abdul used her power to lure young men to her britches. She was simply following the timeless example of men who have done the same. (Of course, her one transgression was that of choosing Corey Clark… bad taste, Paula). But still, without Abdul’s message of female empowerment, we wouldn’t see a record number of women running for office in 2010. It’s a lot easier for cougars to prey on young men when they have the full backing of a political platform. Meg Whitman’s male interns better watch out.
An Economic Bellwether: Abdul reportedly turned down a $5 million+ deal to return to Idol in August 2009. Although nothing has been reported about a potential comeback this year, last year’s offer clearly indicates that we are recovering from this recession. If Paula Abdul is being offered $5 mil to get drunk and make nonsensical comments on TV, then we better be creating more jobs in the meantime. And if Paula refuses to come back, then I’d be happy to mumble and drink scotch out of a sippy cup on primetime television. I’ll even cut you a discount and do it for $1 mil.
I think I have proven my point: Paula Abdul is so much more than a singer, dancer, choreographer, and druggy cougar. As she would say, “You’ve got a sensitive side of you… got, uh, total, uh spicy side of you… You are real. You’ve… got… to keep going.” And on that, I rest my case. Bring back Paula Abdul to American Idol!