Whoopi Goldberg Knows What To Blame For The Fall Of Western Civilization

Whoopi Goldberg blames American Idol for normalizing judging other people as the cause of problems in our world.

By Phillip Moyer | Published

whoopi goldberg star trek

Co-host of The View and occasional Star Trek actress Whoopi Goldberg has a history of less-than-well-informed takes through the years. From insisting the Holocaust wasn’t about race to defending Roman Polanski’s rape of a 13-year-old girl, she hasn’t exactly been a fountain of wisdom. Deadline reports that her hot take is that the reality TV show American Idol has helped lead to the downfall of society by encouraging its viewers to judge others.

This argument came as Whoopi Goldberg and other hosts of The View were discussing the new Netflix documentary Anna Nicole Smith: You Don’t Know Me. The documentary follows the titular Playboy model and actress, covering her short life, lived while being constantly hounded by the spotlight. The documentary touches on a reality show that E! Entertainment created starring Smith, consistently setting her and her family up as people to be judged and mocked.

Whoopi Goldberg
Whoopi Goldberg on The View

Whoopi Goldberg argues that these sorts of judgmental reality TV shows started with American Idol, which encouraged viewers to be more judgmental of each other — a trend that has resonated throughout reality TV ever since. Each season of the show famously begins with tryouts, showing both the best and the worst of the bunch — with longtime host Simon Cowell often insulting the worst of the contestants. Then, the viewers themselves get to vote on which contestants stay, and which contestants are kicked off the show.

Whoopi Goldberg draws a direct line from American Idol to other shows that she says encourage being judgmental. She argues that people only watch shows like Basketball Wives and Real Housewives so that they can be judgmental towards stars. Being “judgy,” Goldberg says, makes viewers feel better about themselves.

Now, Whoopi Goldberg says, that judgmental attitude has extended beyond TV and taken root in American society. After learning to judge the people on television, she believes Americans now judge each other.

Studies have shown that certain types of reality TV can have negative psychological effects on viewers. Although Whoopi Goldberg’s claim of being judgmental has not been confirmed, a 2016 study of surveillance-style reality TV shows suggests that the programs increase viewers’ physical aggression — at least in the short term.

Of course, people have been blaming new types of media for society’s ills long before Whoopi Goldberg decided that American Idol was destroying the world as we know it. Video games were blamed for causing violence in the 2000s, comic books were blamed in the 1950s, film was blamed in the 1930s, and theater was blamed in the 16th century. So far, society has continued to exist.

While Whoopi Goldberg is known mostly for her appearances on The View these days, she still has an active acting career. She’s scheduled to appear in Sister Act 3 next year, and has a recurring role in the upcoming TV miniseries Anasazi Boys, which is based on the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name. She’s also set to appear in the film Outlaw Posse, the TV movie Fairy Tale Forest, and the animated film Pierre the Pigeon-Hawk.