Friday, October 09, 2009

The Weeping Episode

Last year on the Yard I wrote in praise of The X-Factor. Yeah, well I now come to bury it. On Sunday, for various inexcusable reasons, I saw that nasty episode between the end of the Boot Camp stage and the beginning of the interminable Live in the Studio stage, which isn’t but ought to be called The Weeping Episode.

It’s the one where the various judges take six hopefuls each to some exotic location and whittle them down to three apiece. The hopefuls are tortured in tellyland’s usual style: made to wait around in a state of funk for ages while the judges ‘deliberate’, then given the news in double and triple bluffs (At first I was very impressed with you… but now I’m very sorry to say that…you’re not going home because you’ve made it through!).

Before the judgements are delivered the contestants weep because it all ‘means so much to them’. After the judgements the losers weep because they haven’t made it through and, conversely, the winners weep because they have. All of the men weep these days, even the judges, and the women howl like banshees. Nobody takes it well.

I had previously suspected the Weeping Episode was unnecessarily exploitative, even by reality TV standards. Since we’re months away from the finishing line, by which time these early fallers will all be long forgotten, why do we need to see them being tortured and crushed? But then I also thought: well, they know what they’re getting into by choosing to appear on it. And they only weep so much because they saw contestants weeping last year; they don’t really invest all their pitiful hopes and dreams on the huge improbability of winning, do they – surely that’s just something they say? And surely they’ve realised by now that even winning the whole thing is no guarantee of lasting success?

Sadly not. One of the failures in this year’s Weeping Episode was one Daniel Pearce, a 31-year old father of two from Kent, who, seven years ago, was successful enough on Popstars: The Rivals (the X-Factor precursor that also spawned Girls Aloud) to make it into the boyband One True Voice. The band and its members disappeared from public consciousness almost instantly, so Pearce has been chasing fame since, culminating in the final humiliation of ejection from the X-Factor at the Weeping stage in 2009.

So here is a man who has actually won one of these shows, lived through the experience of it singularly failing to make him an international star, and yet is still sufficiently deluded and desperate that he believes the X-Factor represents his sole shot at happiness and fulfilment. Rather than let him back on telly, they should have set him up with a desk job and a shrink; these are seriously fragile people that ITV is torturing for our weekend entertainment.


Sophie King said...

I have to hold fast against the entreaties of my nine-year old daughter who thinks I am a puritanical witch for not letting her watch reality telly (apart from Masterchef, obviously). I've tried to explain to her that it's like going to a freak show or Bedlam and laughing and pointing at the unfortunates held captive within. I'm convinced that exposing oneself voluntarily to this dross is sheer madness. Just say no, Brit.

Brit said...

Too true, Sophie, too true. But then what would I have to rail against?

These Pop Idolly things used to be a bit of fun with some anthropological interest. But as with Big Brother, success plants the seeds of their own destruction and they eat themselves, or rather the seeds of themselves are eaten by... no I'm getting into a terrible metaphorical mess here. You get the point, I'm sure.

Sophie King said...

I do get the point, Brit. But surely there is a danger that, in exposing yourself to the stuff which provides ranting material, you risk ending up in a permanent state of frothing Daily Mailishness?

Brit said...

I am in a rich vein of form, aren't I? Poets, the internet, singing competitions... It's trousers next, watch out.

worm said...

I like Brit in his frothing dailymailishness

never really watched any of these reality shows, saw it once last year and was appalled at the blatant set-ups and machinations, (my one legged mum has Toenail Cancer and I live in a portaloo etc) and the endless stream of people who ALL said 'I've been waiting all my life for this moment, winning this competition would just mean everything to me.' Absolute rubbish.

In the ultimate metaphor I think Simon Cowell should stand on stage endlessly eating his own seed whilst the audience belittle him.

malty said...

Confined to barracks for the next 10 days, wife gone off to the Iberian peninsula, "seeing cousin K". Left a list which includes "refurbish laundry room", hence watching telly this morning, just seen the ultimate obscene reality show, makes the X Factor seem like the Clangers.
Iraq 2003-2009 it was called, the cast included Madge, Phil, Chas, Cammie, bloke with beard, Scots git and his missus, various top brass and establishment figures.
Some of these people are responsible for sending kids in uniform to an early grave for no good reason. Then they have the temerity to hold a bash in a church, for what?

Outa_Spaceman said...

I think the Mr. Brit may have, inadvertently, hit on the 'next big thing'...
'Time's Arrow'..
Take several 'celebrities'. After a farewell performance, give them a desk job a shrink and attempt to integrate them into the desert of the real..
"So Candice, this is Iceland. See if you can fill this trolley with enough pizzas to fill your freezer while you juggle two unruly two year olds..'
I may need to give this idea a little more thought before I pitch it to Channel Four...

Gaw said...

Brit, Polly Filla-like, you seem to have gone from unforgiving scourge of weakness to soft-hearted indulger of same almost overnight.

Totally empathetic! A rebuttal can be found here.