After watching Phillip Phillips' amazing victory, an array of thoughts filtered through my brain as my family cheered and we wiped away our tears of joy for Phillip and his family. What is it that compels millions of Americans to tune in each week and watch these young adults compete, and gets us involved enough so that we stay up a few hours longer just so we can "make our vote count" for our favorite singer? Could it be that "American Idol" reflects the true "American Dream"? That one day you are a paint store or pawn shop worker, and the next day you are on stage with millions of people watching you, screaming out your name, with the ticker tape falling from the sky as you are catapulted into the stratosphere of stardom, notoriety and wealth? This is Phillip's story and it is fantastic, and those of us in Albany who have watched him as he has grown as an artist share in his joy on this wild and amazing ride.
There is, however, a parallel universe that has been displayed this season on "American Idol" that is not going to receive a ticker-tape parade, a million dollars or a recording contract. And to me, it is the true American Dream.
I have been fascinated watching the Phillips family every week as they have appeared on the TV. Phillip Sr., the patriarch of the family, seems to me like an amazing man. While I know nothing personally of their family, I see him as the hardworking father who gets up every day and goes to work at his pawnshop. He has probably been doing this for many years.
Hollywood may choose to poke fun or belittle this line of work or the fact that he has chosen to protect himself, his family and his shop by "packing heat," as "Idol" so fondly called it. But he is a hardworking man who is self-employed, married to a lovely woman, with amazing children who clearly love and adore him. He may or may not see any glamor in his line of work, but he has done it because he knows what it takes to support his family, and provide a decent home and future for his children and grandchildren.
To me, this is the true American dream. Having the wherewithal to put your nose to the grind, reap what you sow. Glory or no glory, fame or no fame, building a foundation for your family to exist upon, and knowing in your heart that you have done the best job you can for yourself, your family and your country. It is this way of thinking, along with the passion in the hearts of "men" who founded America, that made it the amazing place that it is today. Phillip Sr. exemplifies this "man"; he is living the true American Dream.
Unfortunately, in our country today, there are so many who don't see it that way. Lost is the motivation to create a better future for the next generation. There are so many who are sitting around waiting for some magical even to occur, perhaps a handout, that will do all of the hard work for them and catapult them into some other universe of wealth and prosperity.
I wonder, did others viewing the show share my sentiments as well? Were you able to see past the flashing lights and glamor, and pick up the hint of something that was far more compelling than gaining the title of "American Idol"? The fact that Phillip was able to remain "true" to himself and his character throughout the entire experience was one of the resonating statements about Phillip made by the "Idol" crew, which led me to believe that they might have been seeing something in him that they may not have been able to completely name, nor understand. Where they come from, the blinding lights of Hollywood and stardom clearly obscure some of the more obvious and basic facts of what lies beneath the foundation of the real America, and a real American. At the end, I believe they were left speechless, as most of us were, when they saw Phillip singing his song, ironically titled "Home," become so wrapped up in the moment that he chose to leave the stage and the bright lights to envelope himself in his "home," his loving family waiting for him in the audience.
According to Hollywood's standards, when we look far into the future, Phillip may or may not be a "true" success story when they count and see whether he has sold 30,000 or 30 million copies of his CD, or whether or not he has adjusted his "style" to keep his fan base happy. Regardless of the numbers game and whether or not Phillip goes on to continue his path of music, or if he chooses to eventually come back "home" and take over the family business, there is one thing for certain. Phillip has an amazing foundation because a man who shares his name made some good choices, raised a great family, and taught him to go after his dreams no matter how far out of the universe they may soar. And if, one day, those dreams fail him, Phillip will always have two strong feet to march him along his path of personal prosperity, because that is how his father raised him.
Dr. Melinda Greenfield is a dermatologist at the Albany Dermatology Clinic, as well as the owner/operator of the online skincare beauty store www.skincareanthology.com.