Sunday, December 16, 2007

What. The...?

When I was in Cyprus a few months ago, I took too few books with me and ended up reading the ones that my boyfriend had bought with him. One of the books was Chart Throb by Ben Elton, a satirical view of X-Factor style shows. I've never really believed that reality shows are all that real but after reading Chart Throb, I could no longer watch X-Factor (which I'd never really been all that into past the initial rounds full of weirdos) in quite the same way.

Suddenly, I doubted everything. If a particularly good finalist got kicked out and an awful one got to stay in, I questioned everything - song choices, sets, voice overs, EVERYTHING. And I quickly got sucked into the show as I had never been before.

For last night's final, I was rooting for Rhydian. Most people I knew were too. Let's face it, Leon is easy on the eye but doesn't have a very strong voice and Same Difference project something creepy and far too Stepford Wife-ish in an incestuous way. I don't think their case was helped in my eyes by the fact that every performance included children doing incredibly cheesy things. Once upon a time, in a more innocent age, this could've been cute. Unfortunately modern society's obsession with all things hysterically paedocentric, to the point where parents may no longer film little Timmy making his stage debut as 3rd donkey in the class nativity play, their entire performance smacked of something slightly Michael Jackson-esque.

So, no real surprises when they were booted off for endless panto appearances, leaving Leon and Rhydian sweating it out. I thought it was in the bag for Rhydian - own slightly weird but cool image to appeal to the younger crowds, allegedly good moral values to please the mums and right wingers and a bloody good voice. But then, as I mentioned before, Leon is easy on the eye in the most conventional of conventional ways. His voice may not be powerful like Rhydian's but it can be tweaked by an engineer and he can smoulder on a couple of single covers, maybe an album, and then fuck off back to obscurity with enough money to live comfortably for the rest of his life, providing he doesn't pick up pretensions or a coke habit along the way. And of course, the fact that those vote tend to vote for shows like X-Factor are 14 year old girls.

Whilst I am disappointed for Rhydian, I suppose part of me knows that he'll go on to have a good career in a more grown up market despite losing out. He has enough talent and interest about him to carry on.

I must say, I'm not entirely sure what has led me to write one of the longest posts I've written for some time about the X-Factor, let alone with the air of injustice that I'm sure I've been radiating. I suppose I blame Chart Throb in part, as I mentioned earlier. The day after I finished it a funny and totally coincidental thing happened. I was flicking through a copy of the The Mirror that had been lying around by the pool of our hotel when a tiny 2 inch side column caught my eye. The blurb was a small piece featuring Louis Walsh confessing that the houses that the judges had taken their groups to were in fact not their own as presented on the show. The fact that this very scenario was presented in the book made me laugh but also made me begin to consider the satire as perhaps more knowing that Ben Elton realised at the time he wrote it.

Anyway, enough pontificating about the X-Factor. If I spent half of the effort I do analysing reality TV as I do on this blog, I might actually post more than once a month.

At least X-Factor's done for the season.

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