Thursday, May 7, 2009

Danny Gokey Both a Windfall, a Liability for Milwaukee

By Evan Rytlewski
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Forgive me for another Danny Gokey post, but the guy is going to be inescapable for the next two days. Now that the divisive “American Idol” contestant has secured his place in the top 3, Milwaukee is dedicating an entire day to him. He’ll visit his histrionic supporters at Fox 6, then pop by a couple local radio stations and some obvious local landmark before parading with some Green Bay Packers (including Aaron Rodgers) to the Summerfest grounds, where he’ll give a free 5:15 p.m. concert at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse as “American Idol” films screaming fans to edit into a montage for next week's show (to ensure enough fans show up, Summerfest is giving away a free weekday admission ticket to the festival for anyone who stays for the whole thing).

This week, then, was the first time that I’ve ever rooted for Gokey, if only because I wanted Milwaukee to receive millions of dollars in free publicity from the country’s top rated show. But while Gokey’s success is a boon for the city’s tourism bureau, it certainly doesn’t help the city’s cache.

Gokey has emerged as a sort of arch-villain of “American Idol” this season, attracting particular vitriol from bloggers and the backhanded endorsement of Vote for the Worst, which usually describes him with some variation of the word “douche.” Given that the series’ finale will likely pit Gokey, a church music director, against the far more talented Adam Lambert, who rightly or wrongly much of the country believes is gay, I fear that Milwaukee is alligning with the wrong side of this culture war. If Gokey should somehow win, Milwaukee will be for years synonymous with a guy so out of touch with contemporary culture he—and us—will be seen as a laughing stock. He's not the right poster child for this city.

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