The time of year has rolled around when upon our screens come a wave of unknown faces accompanied by the loud, harsh sound of buzzers calling for instant rejection. Having watched such shows for many years I find that several people I've spoken to have confessed to only watching the audition process and afterwards they soon lose interest. The rest, they say, they can keep up with via news headlines concerning who got voted off that week.
These shows are arguably akin watching a public bear baiting as hopefuls from across the country take to the stage in the hopes of achieving the fame and glory they have longed for. When did we become a culture so obsessed with the humiliation of others? As a society we so often declare bullying as immoral and wrong but do we recognise it when it's presented to us on a silver, televised platter each week?
For those who watch simply for the audition rounds many do so from the expectation of acts to laugh at. Some may say these people are deluded to think they have talent but rather than celebrate the confidence and bravery it takes to stand up and perform whilst the country is watching we laugh in their faces. These shows do provide an excellent outlet for new talent and have launched several careers but it is the mindless exploitation of people during the audition round that bothers me.
Before contestants reach the auditions we see on television they go through previous stages during which someone will probably know what their ridiculous talents are or if they can sing or not. Despite this they allow them to go on for cheap laughs. It dangles hope before the contestant who comes in search of fulfilling their dreams only to snatch it away ruthlessly. There is a definite sense of clever manipulation as the show weaves stories around certain acts and not for others. This provides us with a level of sympathy with certain acts that we are essentially being told to like.
Then, after the auditions, the media becomes obsessed with the contestants. Their names and faces are littered through papers, on gossip sites. This arguably gives them a taste of what fame is like but we as consumers often buy into it. We unfairly pit varied acts against each other in these bi-annual televised Coliseum style events. The public often buy into the idea of helping their favourite contestant win and taking some sort of active role within the music industry itself.
The X Factor these days just seems more of a glorified karaoke contest than anything else. There are artists out there who collaborate to create original music and lyrics that may never be heard if they remain sidelined. Britain's Got Talent throws arbitrary acts together to be judged at the same level. Who are we to judge an opera singer against an impressionist or a dancing dog against a choir? It all becomes a strange pageant of mismatched acts that probably wouldn't ever occur together anywhere else and therefore it seems arcane to pit them against each other for our favour.
If you want to support real talent in their rise to fame then go down and support your local music scene, help sell merchandise, join a band street team and have a real role in supporting the music industry. It will be a far better use of your time than sitting at home and calling up from the comfort of your sofa to essentially support an already thriving section of our music industry.
There are thousands of bands and artists out there doing it themselves as they haul merchandise to and from venues, fund albums from their own pockets and hope that support will eventually come. Here is where you, the public, can have a useful role in the support and creation of a music industry that thrives full of variety and excitement. You can go out and find talent, real talent, and support it by going to local shows and events. These people, far from the unattainable celebrities we're so used to, pursue their talent usually due to their passion more than anything and they deserve the attention and acclaim we can provide. It certainly seems more useful than calling up and pressing buttons on a Saturday night.