Do we really need more stuff? More things to clutter small apartments? More ways to spend money? More fodder for marketing mavens? Apparently, the good folks at ABC think we do. Hence Simon Cowell’s new brainchild, “American Inventor”. A cross between “American Idol” and your fifth grade science project, American Inventor welcomes all kinds of people who have all kinds of crap on their hands as well as way too much time. I should say, that goes for most people; some are actually pretty smart. But most? As reality television has thus far taught us, most people are just plain crazy.
Take the people in the category I shall so name [u]“Non-Inventors.”[/u] These are people who come in without really having an invention. They just have suggestions for improvement or just bad suggestions.
One guy said he revolutionized the music world with a new guitar. Well, no, what you did, buddy, was to move the plug for the guitar from one place to another. And the judges duly pointed out, “You didn’t invent anything; you just moved something.” The guy claimed that musicians were dying for his invention. As yet, the death toll remains at zero.
Then there’s the feel-good nuzzler guy who came in with a freaky looking stuffed doll that says “Everything is going to be okay” in a coked-up voice when you squeeze it. The judges had a hard time not laughing right in his face. He walked around the entire day stroking and swaddling this fleece mutant. Again, not an invention. It’s a doll for adults. Quite unmarketable. Quite stupid.
I’m going to invent a big book with lots of words and their definitions in it, and I’ll give it to these people so they can look up the word “invention” to see that it means creating something that does not yet exist. It does not mean making weird toys for adults or moving plugs on instruments for convenience.
Then there are the [u]Criers[/u]. They weep weep weep. Why? Because “this invention is all I got.” So say many an inventor waiting for judging. No matter what it is or what it does, it’s all they have. They cry when they talk about the crap. They cry when they present said crap to judges. They cry when the judges point out the stupidity of the crap. And sometimes, they cry when the judges send them through. A new way to scoop salad holds an inventor’s life in the balance. A new way to exterminate the scent of horse manure is the key to success and happiness. That new-fangled olive bowl? Entire world is riding on it. And so, we must all cry about it.
So far, only two cries have been acceptable. One was a thirteen year old boy who actually held himself together pretty darn well; he had lots of sniffles and only during the post-judging interview. The second is a woman who has alopecia, the condition that makes all your hair fall out all over your body. She invented a sweat-absorber to put into a wig or a helmet or hardhat; the whole point was to ease discomfort for mostly women who have to wear wigs which would be life-changing especially for cancer patients. Not only did she cry a bit, but so did one of the judges.
Remember that song, “The Distance,” from a few years back? By Evon and Jaron? You want to know what they’ve been up to? Inventing something. Enter the third category: [u]The “I Don’t Know What To Do Next With My Career So I’ll Say That I’ve Invented Something To Rationalize My Lying Around The House In My Underwear For All These Months.”[/u] Having too much time on your hands does not necessarily make you creative. It does not guarantee inventiveness. That aforementioned new-fangled olive bowl? That belongs to our musical duo. From the Billboard charts to American Inventor rejects. Mama must be proud.
The final category belongs to the [u]Inventors[/u]. These are people who have good ideas about new things. They pitch products believably and sensibly. One who stands out is a guy who invented a way to shovel and hold open a bag at the same time so that sandbagging is easy for one person. This invention comes after a horrendous hurricane season that had people scurrying for levees. Good idea. Good invention. Smart.
[b]And THIS is why I love reality TV[/b]: We find out where all the bad ideas go. And, once again, we know who the crazy people are so we can steer clear of them and their adult talking dolls.