Having received a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival in May, idol It has been bombarded with conflict and controversy from audiences and critics alike. The hit TV series follows reinvigorated pop star Jocelyn (Lili-Rose Depp) as she navigates trauma and abuse amidst an exploitative entertainment industry and a manipulative cult leader played by The Weeknd. Led by superstar musician and co-author Sam Levinson, idol It had promises to be HBO’s next big moment.
However, the majority of the show’s press and advertising rested on Rolling Stone calling the show a laundry list of accusations, most of which have become somewhat predictable in Sam Levinson’s production.
Published prior to the release of the first episode, the article by Cheyenne Roundtree features “interviews with 13 members of the show’s cast and crew” and documents how HBO and The Weeknd fired original director Amy Seimetz in a collective effort to “[drop] The ‘feminist lens’ through which the show was told”.
As a result, Sam Levinson took on a faltering project, completely overhauling and reshooting the series, only to exacerbate what had already been described as a “s**t stack”.
Even stranger is the way HBO, The Weeknd, and Levinson dealt with allegations of such flops afterward, unapologetically basking in the negative attention the show receives as if the standing ovation was a vindication of the stink and stench that followed.
The rhetoric rightly swirled around the hotly debated show highlights inconsistencies in how we judge art, points to a larger issue in Hollywood, and begs the question of whether idol Season two is absolutely essential.
Discuss how we judge art
Through this ongoing debate surrounding idolFans and critics struggle to find consensus on ways to determine whether or not a piece of art is good, especially when it comes to controversial art. This is a specialized film and television subsection, of Drug Labs Too bad For the nightmarish visions of Harmony Korine, Lars Von Trier and Gaspar Noe, controversial art will always interest the public. So how do we determine if we hate the show or hate the subject matter?
There is an unspoken moral that comes with representing these kinds of stories on screen. Does the story provide context and comment on the topic at hand? Do the images and dialogue glorify or condemn the actions being committed? Aside from the stark shock value, what is the point of delving into this particular story world? Given the backlash to the show, it’s assumed that The Weeknd and Levinson never considered these questions when creating this series in the first place.
A critique of the controversial nature of a show is to analyze the themes and messages being communicated. With the intensity of abuse and exploitation rife in the film and television industry, it’s certainly appropriate to explore this kind of story.
However, the conduct of Seimetz’s dismissal in an attempt to literally silence women’s voices has become more indicative of mistreatment towards women in the entertainment industry than idol able to act on screen. Then it seems preposterous, immature, and overdramatic to accuse the show’s critics of its existence prim or sensitive adequate measure to silence dissidents.
But the problems with idol deeper than what we see on screen. Peeling back the curtain a bit reveals a bigger problem at HBO and within the industry in general, and its name begins with a cursive letter s.
Sam Levinson Hollywood Problem
After the successful launch of Zendaya-led teen drama series trance, creator Sam Levinson seems to have made himself a staple in the headlines. Despite the awards and accolades, Levinson’s career has been increasingly defined by his mistakes rather than his successes. The Independent’s Inga Barkelle lists Levinson’s controversies, including her discomfort with scenes of nudity from actors such as Sidney Sweeney, Chloe Cherry, and Minka Kelly.
Alongside HBO and Abel Tesfaye, Levinson has shown a complete disregard for women and how their bodies are represented on screen, from exposing them to unnecessary nude scenes to shooting them more than halfway through production. This is in addition to the poor working conditions that Levinson employs on site, disrespecting crew work and time by working over 12-hour days, rewriting scripts at the last minute, and disrupting production organizational practices.
Barry’s dad is an Academy Award-winning director, Levinson is the kind of newborn we should all get tired of. It’s the toxic ex-boyfriend who blames us for not understanding his “overly complex stories” and “deep impact on subjects,” and who uses his influence and access to the industry to somehow justify making bad art (see: trance the second season And Malcolm and Mary and now idol).
Audiences today have more agency and sharper judgment than ever before, allowing them to see the typical attention-grabbing and attention-grabbing tactics used by Hollywood. A modern show needs more than just nudity, violence, and controversial themes to have a “good” title, it must actually represent a version of “good” with either exceptional writing, clever direction, or stellar performances (see: trance The first season ).
This brings us to the main question… is it idol Is it worth the continuation of the second season? Warner Bros. crossed the line. Discovery expressed its lively enthusiasm for the show, which was mostly deceived by Levinson’s ability to draw in a large number of viewers. On the other hand, critics slam the show with terrible reviews and poor ratings, blaming the lackluster appeal on bad writing and boring storytelling.
There’s another unanswerable question: In a world of formulas and algorithms, what numbers should we listen to when deciding what shows to watch, create, or invest in?