We're into week two of 'American Idol's' tenth season, and tonight, the auditions move to Milwaukee, home of Season 8 runner-up Danny Gokey. Now, as you may recall, Danny's back story was particularly compelling in that his wife had died only a few weeks before his initial audition. The producers jumped all over his story and milked it for all the sympathy it was worth. True, it was a tragic event, but is it right for a contestant on this show to use a personal tragedy in order to further his or her advancement on the show? Or does the contestant even have a say as to how his back story is used? Would Danny Gokey have gotten as far as he did without his tragic story?
One wonders, especially considering that tonight, another contestant will share his tragic story with the 'Idol' audience. Two years ago Chris Medina, a 27-year old from the Chicago area, proposed to his girlfriend Juliana Ramos. But in October 2009, Juliana was in a terrible car accident on her way home from work and suffered severe brain damage and multiple fractures to her face. She was in a coma and not expected to live.
Juliana did live, but it's been a long road back and she's still receiving treatment. Chris has stuck by her side and when he auditioned for 'Idol,' Juliana came along. According to TMZ, judge Steven Tyler was moved to tears by Chris and Juliana's story and Chris advances to Hollywood. Spoiler sites have Chris in the Top 40, and I have no doubt this is a fact. 'Idol' loves it's tragic back stories and this one sure has all the elements.
Even before the audition airs, the fund that has been set up to help Juliana's family defray her medical expenses is getting a boost. Imagine what will happen once rabid 'Idol' fans get wind of this story! And, that's a good thing.
Should 'Idol' exploit peoples' tragedies for ratings? Should a contestant try to keep his private life private or use his life experiences in order to gain fan support? Would Chris Medina have made it anyway? Here's a clip of his audition. What do you think?