I happened to catch the last half hour of American Idol last night and was glued to the television for the final contestant in the Milwaukee competition, whom the American Idol producers had saved for the end of the show, because they had essentially planned to exploit his heart-wrenching personal tragedy for the sake of ratings. It’s Danny Gokey and his dead wife all over again, except that Chris Medina’s fiancé is still alive.
Let me just say: I’m glad that American Idol is exploiting Chris and Juliana’s story. I hope the ratings go through the roof. I hope that everyone who watched Juliana Ramos in her wheelchair, shaking with tremors as she clutched Chris Medina’s yellow ticket to Hollywood, went straight to their computers and Googled her name to find out more about her story. Here’s what they would find out if they did:
Juliana survived a violent car accident on her way home from work over a year ago. She came out of a coma partially paralyzed with a traumatic brain injury that has left her with violent tremors and speech issues. She has a long, long, road ahead in her recovery. Chris and Juliana were to be married in December but have had to put off the wedding due to Juliana’s accident. Chris said in his American Idol interview that he was two months away from taking vows that said he would stay with Juliana in sickness and in health, for better or worse, til death do they part, and what kind of man would he be if he walked away from her now? So he, Juliana’s mother, and Juliana’s family and friends are tirelessly taking care of her, trying to bring back the sunny, loving girl that Juliana was before the accident. Apparently, she is now a despondent, depressed person who throws violent tantrums on the level of a three-year-old and has difficulty with social interactions and emotions.
I found her mother’s public Facebook page “For Juliana” and was beside myself reading about how the family has had to rely on private donations and charities to help them pay for Juliana’s care. Their insurance doesn’t cover what she needs. Juliana’s parents are both working, with other children at home, doing everything they can to take care of their daughter. They’ve found some creative ways to get the treatment she needs, but it’s never quite enough. You can read more about it here.
So, yes let American Idol exploit this tragedy for all it’s worth. I hope the entire world watches. And I hope that the American people will use their real voting power to put some pressure on insurance companies to cover the healthcare needs of people like Juliana Ramos.
And while Chris Medina may not win the American Idol contest based on the merits of his singing, there’s no doubt that everyone in his life already considers him an idol and a hero.