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The premise of the NBC-TV reality hit THE VOICE is the worthiness of the contestants to be included in the competition is determined solely on the quality of their singing. No one can see what they look like before they’re chosen or rejected. Those who walk on stage are often too young or old, rural or inner city, common or unusual to have been able to energize an entertainment career on their own. They come with friends and family members urging them on. They’re desperate to prove their ambitions are well founded, and their dreams were never idle fantasies. No wonder the series has such a loyal following. It’s based on hope.
The celebrity judges sometimes telegraph their delight or dismay without meaning to when their chairs turn around and they see the person they’ve selected. They disguise disappointment as surprise. After all, they want to win the series by coaching the winning singer. To win, a singer must eventually attract mass quantities of votes from viewers.
Luckily, many viewers make special exceptions to their private prejudices when they choose singing idols. The music sets the performer into a world apart. A star will probably never want to date your sister (or brother), for example. And the audience members who vote are watching THE VOICE—a fact which immediately eliminates people who don’t like modern music or reality shows or those who don’t have the inclination or means to use social media. The singers who win different seasons are a diverse group. Personality becomes as important as talent.
We would all love to think we stand on our skills and talents alone, but of course, we don’t. Lately, people have begun to point out the huge differences between the standards our society holds for women or minorities versus the leeway allowed to powerful white men. We all knew the disparities were there, but now we’re forced to look at them without blinking. Perhaps knowing the ugly truth is good. We can’t change what we won’t see. Prejudices that have been overlooked flaunt themselves. Qualifications and potential are ignored in favor of promoting people who say what the powerful people want to hear and do whatever the hidden agenda requires.
Ours is an awkward time to raise children. I was taught that hard work and dedication pay off, but even on THE VOICE, the best singer isn’t always the winner. My parents told me children were treasures to be treated as such. I believed doing a job well with empathy and honesty was an admirable goal. I worked hard in school, thinking I would never have to worry about earning enough money for necessities. No one told me being female would degrade my value. And when I looked around, I realized race, alternative gender expressions, religion, and even culture often deducted worth. Certain children seemed to be expendable.
I still teach my children to work hard and be honorable, because I believe there are higher judges than those on the Supreme Court. In the end, we must judge ourselves. Finally, we win or lose according to the quality of our efforts.