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Emmys 2017
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'America's Got Talent' recap: The Great Debate

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In the opening moments of Lost’s fifth season finale, two bearded men — one in white, the other black — are sitting on the beach, cryptically (…it’s Lost) debating the significance of a ship spotted just offshore. ”They come, fight. They destroy; they corrupt. It always ends the same,” says the man in black. His opponent grins at him. “It only ends once,” Jacob says. “Anything before that…is just progress.” Then they go back to staring at the ocean until January 2010, when Lost returns for its sixth and final season. (!!)

Besides satisfying my desire to somehow plug Doc Jensen’s favorite show in these AGT recaps (I’m sorry!), I think the above exchange could easily fit overtop another philosophical debate we saw tonight. Substitute Piers Morgan for Jacob and David Hasselhoff for “the man in black,” and you’ve got a fair re-creation of their struggle to make sense of illusionist Joseph Constantine’s act.

”This show is about giving people a break,” said Morgan, reactingto the contestant’s story of personal and financial struggle. “It’s aboutgiving people with dreams a chance to achieve them.” The Hoff took hismind off the bevy of PYTs in tonight’s auditions and countered that no, theshow is about talent. “We’relooking for something we haven’t seen before.” One judge tired of all theposturing, the average performances; another who believes in the show as apowerful tool for change. Sharon? Sharon?

Ultimately Constantine was ushered into the next round, butthe judges’ deliberation — most particularly Hasselhoff’s — made forprobably this season’s most interesting moment yet. Finally, we see them deliberating over something, carefully considering what they’ve just seen. Whether the illusionistadvances beyond the next round is irrelevant. What’s significant is the way this moment got at the show’s central question, and one we raised last week: just what is America’s Got Talent all about?

There’s plenty of room to discuss that in the comments section below, but before we all get our doctorate in Judge Behavioral Studies let’s try to lighten things up. AGT University offers a wide variety of fun electives, including:

Undeniable Adorableness 101 — Whether your viewing pleasure is spastic dogs or rousing dance numbers, we’ve got you covered! Forget about those navel-gazing existential dilemmas for a second and turn off your brain — simply BE — as you smile, smile, smile. (May not be taken more than once per term.)

“Didn’t Your Friends Tell You?”: Dreams and Delusions — “According to the audience I did terrible, but the audience can’t determine my life.” “You didn’t like it? I mean, that’s just like your opinion, man.” “I cannot sing when everybody is so loud.” Common refrains, all. But what is at the root of these frustrations with a world they never made? This course aims to open wide the myths we all accept…and force the proverbial playing cards back in each of our mouths*. (Open only to first years and transfers.)

* Homework assignment, PopWatchers: could someone make an animated gif of Marty the magician’s card trick? That was great.

Is David Hasselhoff Drinking Today? (1982-2009) — This one-credit course meets bi-weekly to watch film of “The Hoff” and assess his depicted level of sobriety. Due to its relative ease, the course will only be offered to those who did not place into the more advanced ”Did Nick Cannon Just Imitate The Contestant Again?”

… And so much more! But now’s the time to polish your arguments, folks, and share them in our makeshift recitation below. (Just imagine me in a tweed jacket with elbow patches.) THEN, come back next Wednesday morning to discuss what’s being touted as America’s “Susan Boyle moment”… See you next week!