Monday, 29 November 2010
Have your votes changed anything?Television democracy gone mad
Simon Cowell, and his clear desire to freeze out all other styles from the mainstream of music, and I do disagree strongly, one had to admire at first his brutal honesty and desire to find new talent that might have otherwise struggled for years unnoticed. What has happened since of course, is that Syco productions have taken the format of talent show music and variety and turned the entire exercise into advert selling with an ultimate goal of as much money as possible in the shortest amount of time regardless of the effect on the music and the alleged talent. I shudder to think what the Queen imagines the Royal Variety performance will be from now on, but it certainly isn't anything as awe inspiring as it used to be. JLS, urban dance troupes and barely able to sing skinny women pretending to be Beyonce Knowles. The notion of the well rounded variety performer as we used to see as late as the the 1980's has given way to one trick pony acts and controversy courting jesters who are famous only because Simon Cowel and his bickering panel allow them to be. It was sometime last year when even the most innocent of souls stopped believing any denials from Cowell's mouth and started wondering when this freak show without pity would take the same door as Big Brother did. The lack of courage to make choices by judges, the choosing of acts designed to annoy rather that help, the outright machinations behind the scenes that became ever more obvious, all combined to undermine what little credibility X factor and BGT had.
The other main problem with shows like this apart from the genres and antics, is the abuse of talent, regardless of actual ability. These poor bastards are deluded into thinking they are good, they are then milked of all potential for little or no money then discarded. Some of them are a bit brittle mentally to start and this only serves to further damage them. Hardly fair, hardly right, hardly legal . Meanwhile legitimate artists continue to pay dues to unions and guilds, try to get signed and on the whole get ignored by the mainstream, because they are not Olly Murs and they are not as easily led as an X factor or BGT lamb.
This unbridled rush to worship at the altar of the absolute correctness of anything the public votes for, no matter how ill advised or patently wrong, is what's destroying an otherwise interesting, entertaining and compelling format on both the Syco programmes and Strictly.
If we want better behaved crowds, better informed public votes, a few things need to happen, regardless of musical taste or occupation targeted.
These programmes need to take measures early on to insure that participants are up the task, sufficiently grounded in whatever they are doing to at least not be entirely rubbish all the way through. How is this done you ask?
I would for example have two parts of Strictly. Part one where we have 40 or 50 prospects report to dance boot camp.... they would then be reduced to the final 16 through a few rounds of basic dances and then we get on with the real series. During the series, if two dancers then fall into the the bottom two, make them do a dance off and the judges should have the conviction of their beliefs and keep the better dancer. X Factor used to do that, except for the piss take people they accepted and the ringers they selected in advance. In the case of BGT where there are several categories, you really need to make more time and more room for the various types of acts or the programme really does become the wounded dying animal it has become. Then and only then will the public voting format be anywhere near worth watching. Last thing... don't dumb down the criteria, regardless of if it's signing , modern dance or log rolling, how else will the public have any respect for performers and judges, if they aren't expected to know or appreciate the effort required to be the best whatever of that year?
I as an amateur cook for example appreciate and respect a programme that treats me like I should not accept 2nd best or just trying. A programme that takes me to the next level through the contestants, teaching me and making me aspire to be better than I already am is the template all such competitions should follow regardless of whether they choose to add an element of public voting or not. But if there is to be public voting, it should never be the kind of thing that corrupts a result to the point that the only people left watching are a bunch of bored teenagers with nothing better to do.
As Strictly and X factor come to a close and a number of new series are about to kick off, the industry needs to start thinking and acting in order to insure the current sad state of affairs does not continue. If the format of public voting "talent" shows is to survive, it will take the combined efforts of industry professionals and the networks to step away from the Holy Grail of "the public" is always right and restore some balance to the equation.