One of my inspiring musician friends once told me that ‘Simon Cowell is everything wrong with the music industry’ but if that is in fact true, why are we still watching The X Factor?
Entertainment. Simply put, we like to watch this particular TV talent show because it’s entertaining. Admittedly its mind numbing, we don’t get anything from it. We’re not watching it and getting a deeper philosophical message, it doesn’t make us evolve as humans. We just like to see people mess up their words, sing like two strangled Lithuanian cats and give us some sob story about how their mum’s best friends dog died and that’s why they’re here today.
There are genuine moments when someone sings a song and it’s so emotional and poignant that you catch yourself crying and you can hear the audience clapping and a Whitney Houston song playing. That’s interesting because they genuinely have talent, but the reality is most of the time bizarre acts that wouldn’t go amiss in a David Lynch film are put through to the live shows. Yes, we want someone to have a sense of humour and to be likeable but it’s a singing competition, not a TV personality show. This is where the studio and the audience get their wires crossed and thus brings the viewer count down.
In the parameters of media, the terms ‘mediation’ and ‘selection’ are thrown about a lot. It means that we are seeing a distorted reality; we’re being lied to. The X Factor bosses control everything we see. Have you ever looked at a member in the audience guffawing away and thought ‘Wait a minute, she just made that EXACT same facial expression five minutes ago’. And then you start to wonder what’s really real? How much of the show is being edited before it reaches us, obviously the show has to be edited and cut down for scheduling purposes but should that mean watching your once favourite show has become ‘spot the liar’ or ‘what a surprise, it’s rigged’. Just think about it.
Once upon a time, you would have rather roller-skated down the street naked wearing a sombrero than miss your TV talent show fix. Now, most people will watch X Factor if it is on but they don’t religiously clear their schedule just to watch it at 8pm on a Saturday night. And while some acts are entertaining and hilariously embarrassing, the X Factor gives you a box that you have to fit into. Take Olly Murs for example, a genuinely nice man who can sing, he’s very likeable and he fits into the box. Take a budding singer who is performing a rock song with a raspy growl to his voice, he could be the next Caleb Followill, but he doesn’t fit the box, he’s splurging over the sides simply because he loves rock music. He wont even get pass the judges houses, because he isn’t generic enough, he isn’t boring enough, he doesn’t wear a trilby hat.
And there in lies the reason that X Factors rating have dropped. It’s boring and predictable. If you’re a round peg then by all means watch X Factor religiously and enjoy it, no one is judging you. But if you’re a square peg like 50% of the nation then you, like me, just can’t be bothered anymore.