Why are 42-year-old women the average demographic for American Idol's eighth season?
What self-respecting adult female would rabidly support Mr. Cook above all others? For that matter, what self-respecting 40-something would even WATCH American Idol, unless she has a kid to blame for having to sit for hours in front of the television every Tuesday and Wednesday evening for MONTHS??
We are not simply a gaggle of horny women, desperate to conquer Mr. Cook's youth and take advantage of his soulful inexperience. No, even though I confess to feeling rather fond of the new Idol, it's more than a simple primal urge to rip off his clothes and teach him a few things I've learned in the last few--ahem--decades.
No, sadly, it's more about the fact that we have entered an age where such dreams have been over for awhile: the dreams of becoming the singing star, the famous dancer, or the adored actress. Celebrity and precocious talent, so admired and even revered in our culture, have abandoned us forever. There is no second chance for us, no possibility of becoming the next American Idol, or the equivalent in any other field of entertainment. We will never be the gifted wunderkind, the amazing Next Big Thing; we have to face the fact that whatever we have accomplished at this stage in our life was either expected of us, or isn't all that impressive to begin with.
In our twenties, we still believe that fame and public adoration are possible; in fact, we KNOW that we can "make it" if we just work really, really hard and maybe catch a couple of lucky breaks. Then, during our thirties, we enter a protracted state of denial as we manage families, divorces, job changes, and the rest of the chaos of becoming an adult. By the time we have entered our forties, we finally have to confront the truth, come face to face with the twenty five year old that we were, and tell her how sorry we are; we didn't live up to our own expectations, and now it's too late.
That's what David Cook is for us: the embodiment of the lost dream of eighteen or so years ago. We live through him, enjoying the attraction we feel, believing that he would want us if we had the chance to seduce him, since that's the only way we're getting close to the dream that just came true for him. We try not to think that we are close to his mother's age. We try not to think about the fact that we betrayed our dreams, or worse yet, we just didn't have the talent or the ambition to realize them. Our dreams are different now, more subtle and less grandiose. The expectations have become "realistic," and so we need to nurture those fantasies that smooth the transition into middle age.
I thought I would be in my twenties forever, that I could be anything I wanted to be, do anything I wanted to do, if I just pursued that dream, whatever it was. I didn't define it, or I ignored it, and it slipped away. David's soft eyes and amazed and joyful smile as he soaks in the applause of his happy fans eases the pain somehow; I still feel the warmth of that possibility in me, even though there is very little left of it now.