anne_mikolay_120The recent focus on American Idol, and actor Charlie Sheen's apparent melt-down, gives me pause. Both Idol and Sheen play fast and loose with the truth.

Though not an avid American Idol fan, I have tuned in lately to see the new judges, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez. During Idol auditions, Tyler was likable and witty (he asked a wacky contestant if the man had eaten paint chips as a child), and Lopez was refreshingly sweet and articulate. When the real competition began in Hollywood, however, both Tyler and Lopez appeared reluctant to offer honest critiques. They applauded everybody, even Brett Loewenstern, the obviously ill at ease Carrot Top lookalike. Thankfully Lopez did not hide behind Paula Abdul-like flattery or catch phrases (“you look lovely tonight, and you made it your own”), but J. Lo hardly spoke the truth. Ditto for Tyler. Though he found fault with one contestant's “Broadway” presentation, Tyler looked totally bored and failed to zero in on several other cheesy performances. It's going to be a long, fake American Idol season if the judges don't speak truthfully. American Idol is, of course, frivolous fun, and hardly a matter of life and death (despite the contestants' claim of “singing for their lives”).

Life and death, on the other hand, is at the core of Charlie Sheen's predicament. As Sheen basks in the media spotlight, one wonders if he is intentionally twisting the truth to advance his own agenda. Is he acting? Is he delusional? Does he truly believe he has “tiger blood” and is “winning”? Does he honestly believe he is the only talent involved in the CBS sitcom, Two and a Half Men, and that his performance is worth $3,000,000 per episode? The truth behind Charlie Sheen's exaggerated bravado poses further questions. Why does the media grant Sheen so much attention? Why broadcast the “Charlie Sheen Show” on every television station? Who cares, other than media moguls? Correct me if I am wrong, but the trials and tribulations of a troubled, pampered Hollywood personality have no bearing whatsoever on the global community. If truth be told, the media gleefully broadcasts Sheen's melt-down to raise ratings and favorably enhance the financial bottom line. Time will reveal the truth of Charlie Sheen's personal situation and it just might be that he is a sad, angry, ill individual in need of help.

American Idol. Charlie Sheen. Prime examples of media hype that twists the truth for hidden purposes.  Here's another truth: Americans, including me, fall for it every time.