Singer Ashlee Simpson’s botched performance on the Oct. 23 episode of Saturday Night Live exposed her to the public and the entertainment industry as a tactless amateur and lip-syncher. Not only does the 19-year-old’s career now face irrevocable damage, but more seriously, the incident sullies the images held by all entertainers – even those with talent.
When Simpson took the stage for her second musical performance of the night to sing the song “Autobiography,” the vocals could be heard to “Pieces of Me,” her first performance, with the microphone no where near her mouth. The recorded singing quickly faded out, leaving the band playing. The black-haired singer looked around in confusion and then commenced to goofily hop around the stage. About 30 seconds later, she exited the stage with her tail between her legs as her band played on. NBC quickly cut to a commercial. When the show resumed, host Jude Law attempted to brush the incident off as an unavoidable risk of live television. Simpson desperately agreed with him, blaming the gaffe on her band.
“I didn’t know what to do, so I thought I’d do a hoedown,” Simpson said.
Unfortunately, Ms. Simpson, a hoe-down is not the action of a seasoned performer. Would it have been so difficult for her to jump into the song – which she has sung hundreds of time by now? Sure, a few lines of lyrics would have been missed, but it would have been better than making a mockery of herself and walking off stage. Not only did she not take responsibility for the mistake, but she blamed it on her band, saying they played the wrong song.
Whether the SNL blooper was due to acid reflux disease – which Simpson’s father attributed it to, faulty technology and band members, or lip-synching, it proves that the entertainment industry is giving too many untalented acts their time in the spotlight.
Why is Ashlee Simpson a platinum-selling artist if her songs are the unoriginal slop we have heard before? Perhaps it is because she is the sister of Jessica Simpson. When are we ever going to ignore artists who ride the coattails of their relatives?
Simpson cannot be ridiculed because of her age. She can, however, be criticized on her level of inexperience. Would polished performers such as Celine Dion and Sheryl Crow walk off stage mid-performance? No, only an amateur would.
Too many ordinary entertainers like Simpson are reaching fame status. What is tragic about this is that it gives people the message that entertainers – singers and actors alike – are a category of untalented folks whose careers are superficial and unimportant.
This simply is not the case. There are entertainers who break barriers, set precedents, and do all that they can to perfect their craft.
Grammy winning recording star Alicia Keys is one of these examples. She is in complete control of her work, as she writes, performs and produces all of her albums. Charlize Theron and Renée Zellweger are equally respected artists in the acting spectrum. Theron transformed her beauty into a battered antithesis for her Oscar-winning role in Monster. Zellweger gained 25 pounds for the title role in Bridget Jones’s Diary and immediately had to revert to petite for her Golden Globe winning role as Roxie in Chicago. Months later, she had to bulk up once again for the Bridget Jones sequel. Not only does the weight gain for these actors show dedication, but it also proves that they are more than willing to sacrifice their beauty for a profound role.
Ashlee Simpson’s pathetic hoedown routine on SNL should not speak for the entire entertainment industry. There are many personalities that are insipid and unoriginal, but there still exist the greats who set precedents for the next generation of entertainers. Simpson’s career, however, still has a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, as embarrassing moments do not necessarily indicate failure.
In 1999, when her sister Jessica hit airwaves as a newcomer, her tight pants split at the crotch while performing at a concert in New York City. The wardrobe malfunction did not seem to hinder Jessica’s popularity, despite weeks of mockery. Perhaps humiliation will turn to sensation for Ashlee as well.
Jesse North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org