If you’ve never heard of Maria Jose Castillo, then consider yourself lucky. She was the runner up for the latest season of Latin American Idol (yes, it exists), and she happens to be from Costa Rica. Now, I’ve never watched American Idol in either its “Regular” or “Latin” flavors. Basically, I’m not into bullshit. And I probably wouldn’t even bring up this poor 19-year-old’s name on my blog (and thereby help perpetuate her fame) if I didn’t have to run across her face in the newspaper every day, even weeks after she lost to the chick from Panama.
As I said, I never actually watched the show, so perhaps this girl’s voice is like some sort of sonic orgasm. That would explain why she’s already met with the president—the president of the nation—on various occasions and why, when she’s not busy chatting it up with El Señor Presidente, she’s busy giving interviews or hanging out with the national soccer team.
The media oversaturation is still bad now, but it was almost intolerable in the days leading up to the call-in voting. I didn’t know that these Idol shows chose their winners based on the number of call-in votes that the contestants received; silly me, I thought that a singing competition show might have something to do with singing talent. But in any case, there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying votes. In fact, it’s very, very encouraged. Supermarkets were taking out full-page ads supporting Maria Jose, and if you bought 5,000 colones (10 dollars) in products, for example, then the store would call in a vote for you. A couple of these ads can be seen in the picture below and at the top of this post.
Aside from being an abhorrent reality show in the first place, Latin American Idol nicely illustrated a few things that are wrong with Costa Rican thought today. First of all, there’s the already-mentioned idea that elections can be bought. Second of all, there’s the full-on embrace of the “home team,” no matter how bad that home team may be or how deserving the competition may be. In fact, the coverage here did everything possible to avoiding mentioning the other finalist, who was some girl from Panama with curly hair. We may never know if this Panamanian girl sings well or not; what is clear, though, is that she could somehow get more people to pay for a phone call to support her.
Hey, by the way, even though Maria Jose didn’t actually win, the Toyota agency in San Jose still gave her a 2009 Yaris. Oh, and did I mention that according to one of these countless interviews she’s done, she doesn’t actually know how to drive? (Sound of Ryan repeatedly punching a cinderblock wall… with his face).
For me, though, it’s all just such an overwhelming embrace of Televised Schlock and Elementary School Field Day-Style Mediocrity, that for once I just don’t know what else to say.
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