The X Factor - An exploitation of the naïve?


By Michael Sophocles
November 12, 2009
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Having come from a reality television background, I am fully aware of being exposed to a nation thirsty for blood.

Of course, as candidates on The Apprentice we knew what we were getting ourselves into, but being cautious is not a quality one exhibts when facing a 'life changing’ opportunity.

The X Factor of course is a very different animal to a business show. Despite both shows being labeled under the genre of 'reality television', the nature of X Factor makes me feel altogether frustrated and even a little uneasy.

I accept that the whole process is a very entertaining affair. I also realise it is light television and should perhaps not be so heavily scrutinised by a sardonic fusspot like yours truly.

But the X Factor is contrived TV at its worst. And readers, this blog isn't an entry about how we are patronised and belittled by megalomaniac Simon Cowell and his three self-styled stooges. Those kinds of views are found in every X Factor critique.

It is the exploitation of the contestants that I want to discuss, and I’d love to get some feedback on from readers. I know first hand how difficult it is getting to an advanced stage in this kind of competition. It is an unkind and grueling experience, and should mean that the remaining talented (perhaps this word is misused in John and Edward’s case) singers to have a fair crack at the whip.

The problem comes from the elevation of the four judges to god status, capable of making entirely wrong decisions in order to have one-upmanship on another god or goddess. Or to vote someone out merely because they pose a threat to their own acts. This is not the way to find a true winner. The judges enter like four Caesars taking their box seats to view a gladiatorial event.

Has anyone noticed that whenever a judge criticises an act, the critique is always be directed at the mentor rather than at the singer?

I mean, what on earth can Stacey Solomon do to improve her performance if the only criticism leveled at her is that Danni Minogue picked bad song for her or an unflattering dress?

I welcome a contentious debate. but please do let me know if you think I am taking all of this a bit too seriously…

COMMENTS

Gordon

Mon, 11/16/2009 - 23:37

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Michael, I like your comments, especially the following: 'Or to vote someone out merely because they pose a threat to their own acts. This is not the way to find a true winner.' This is spot on. I really dislike that eventually it is more about the judges winning than about the best singer. It's terrible how the 'judges' play with teh crowds and how a singer can be lifted up one week and dropped to the floor the next.

So, I think the judges are overrated and their influence far beyond what it should be. I therefore agree with you in stating 'The problem comes from the elevation of the four judges to god status...' At American Idol, e.g., the judges simply give comments without having to win themselves - that's more objective, I think.

Shalom, G

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