Monday, August 31, 2009

The Folk Value of "American Idol"

This article in Sunday's Washington Post explores the acquisition and display of the judges desk from American Idol. The desk was donated and is currently on exhibit at the Smithsonian Castle. The accompanying text situates American Idol as part of a long tradition of amateur talent shows that have been part of American culture since the inception of the republic.

What I love about this article is the way it problematizes the acquisition of the desk and whether it really is an authentic piece of folk culture worthy of display at the Smithsonian. It's the type of discussion I like to introduce with undergraduate and graduate students when we're working on a definition of folklore early in the semester.

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