I admit it, I am hooked America’s Got Talent (AGT). When my fiancé Frankie suggested we watch the show I scoffed, thinking it would be dull and stupid.
And it is sometimes, but beyond all that is a real hope.
A hope that America and beyond isn’t hopeless, that we can be strong and creative and open-minded. That there is good, and a lot of it, in the world when many of us feel hopeless.
Does this sound ridiculous? That I can get all of the above from a reality TV show that is basically a really bad, really overdone talent show. Yeah, it sounds ridiculous, but if you have ever watched the show (even a clip here and there on social media – or seen Susan Boyle for Pete’s sake!) Then you know that the show has these bizarre moments of utter goodness that makes people weep.
The Golden Buzzer
During the first few episodes they show various auditions as they narrow the field down for later shows. On each show, a judge gets the “Golden Buzzer” where the act that gets this buzzer gets to skip all the semi-finals and land right in the Live Las Vegas episodes that make up the finale rounds. It’s a huge win for those that get it, it means more time spent focusing in their act for the live, real shows and not having to worry if they make it through round after round of cuts.
Often these golden buzzer moments are heartfelt, and they usually go to an act that you feel truly deserves the opportunity to shine in the live shows.
They have given it to singers who are deaf, like Mandy Harvey in 2017, or people who have fought through years of crippling anxiety and fear and rejection to make it onto that stage, like this years Kevin Schwartz.
But they don’t always pick the person with the hardest luck, sometimes they just pick someone whose talent shines through the darkness and who makes you feel lucky to have heard it. A man by the name of Mackenzie personifies that with his beautiful rendition of Nothing Compares To You originally by Prince.
But it’s more than just the magical buzzer. It’s about people getting up on stage when they have been bullied or told they weren’t good enough. The young Tyler Butler-Figueroa is a good example of this. This little man came on stage and he was so small, so meek, but so full of brightness that you wanted whatever he was about to do (play the violin) to be truly amazing.
And yes, he got the golden buzzer of course, but man he was one of those times where you were so glad he got it, because he deserved it. That kid deserved a win.
Why I Relate to AGT
The reason why I relate to so many of the contestants on AGT is because they are me. They are all of us. So many of us have our own stories of heartache, of being bullied. We know what it feels like to be kicked after we’ve fallen down. To be told we aren’t good enough or to be convinced that we have nothing to offer the world.
All of these weirds, losers, and talented as holy heck performers are so very brave.
They are powerful, and they remind me that I too am powerful. That even though my books don’t make millions of dollars (or even tens of dollars) it doesn’t mean I’m a bad writer. It means I have to keep pushing for more readers. That I have to believe that I can be and do better every day.
So can you.
The thing about dreams is that often they get squashed. They get tossed aside like our childhood toys, and treated as frivolous and unimportant.
They are not.
Dreams are vital to keeping us getting up and out of bed each morning. If we don’t have dreams about what we want to accomplish then what’s the point? Even if your dream is silly or seems unreachable, why not give it a try anyway?
What I’ve learned in my recent foray into writing is that the worst that can happen is that someone says no.
That’s it, N-O.
And it’s not nearly as bad as you think it is. Sure, it hurts the first few times. Sure, watching others succeed is tough other days, I admit it, but ultimately each no strengthens the resolve, and makes me want to push “higher, further, faster” in order to see how high I can go.
Each no makes us, me, better than we were the day before.
So yeah, that’s why I love AGT – because it reminds me that these folks performing on TV in front of millions may not be quite as talented as they think they are, but they sure are some of the bravest people I have ever seen.
That’s what makes this show so good. Witnessing the bravery, the failure, the sadness, the heartache, as well as the joy and triumph. Witnessing people of different cultures coming together to create art.
Watching people learn about one another, to understand one another, and to see that the world is a vast place full of amazing people, amazing creators.
That’s why I love AGT and why even when it annoys the holy hell out of me (those judges make me nuts sometimes), it is still a show that makes me feel hopeful about the world, that there is good here still, and that there will be good here still long after I’m gone.