Posts Tagged ‘Variety’

Britain’s Got Talent

June 13, 2007

Talent? 

The last piece I wrote was about that brainless talent competition, Let Me Entertain You. Bearing in mind that it’s now a year old, it occurred to me whilst watching ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent that the basic concept of the aformentioned show has been ‘alf inched by the latter and completely ponced up, with typical X-factor style feelgood editing between acts and a complete over-emphasis on the making and breaking of idiots’ dreams. Obviously there are bound to be certain similarities beteween them as they are both variety shows but the core element of Let Me Entertain You – the idea that audience members are able to get rid of acts they don’t like by pressing a button has been commandeered by Britain’s Got Talent – only this time the button-pressing responsibility lies with the three judges – Piers Morgan, Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell. In case the prospect of watching these three bollock-heads might not be off-putting enough, the whole bloody shambolic affair is hosted by everyone’s favourite pair of unctuous arse-munchers; Ant and Dec.

I’m going to overlook Ant and Dec on this occasion though, because they just do their usual thing and are once again just, well, Ant and Dec really. Love ’em or hate ’em.

As for Morgan and Holden, I can’t really work out what they are doing there. I suppose Holden’s role is simply to look pretty and be the ‘nice’ one. Quite what makes her an authority on what qualifies as talent though, I don’t know. In this respect the same can be said for Piers Morgan, but his presence on this show is slightly harder to suss. So far his only outstanding feature seems to be the ability to make small children cry and to be a kind of buttock-headed stepping stone in the middle ground between Amanda Holden’s wet approach and Cowell’s tiresome ‘Mr Nasty’ routine.

The other similarity between this tack-fest and Let Me Entertain You is that some of the same acts featured on the latter have also appeared on the aforementioned. Among these are the two sickening Sound Of Music girls mentioned in my last piece, and a bloke who jumps through hoops festooned with blades. Now call me morbid, but all I want to see when a person jumps through such a hoop of doom is for said hoop-jumper to be either severely injured or just plain minced.

As you’d expect, there is the usual parade of freakery on display here, with performers and their precious performances ranging from fucking disgraceful, to bloody awful, to just plain shit, or painfully bland, with a handful of acts each episode who are geniunely pretty talented. Britain’s Got Talent is for various reasons (which I have figured out but can’t be arsed to go into) a lot more relaxed than the X-factor and is consequently allowing crap acts to slip through the heats for sentimentality’s sake. To be honest though, this whole thing just feels like I’m watching the Cowell enjoy a working holiday.

So far I have seen some dick-wipe getting a standing ovation for his thoughtful and sophisticated performance of making a hand puppet in the form of a monkey gyrate to the child-seducing rhythms of Michael Jackson’s music, a knife throwing act almost ending in bloodshed after the trembling blade man unintentionally almost perforated his reckless lady-assistant with a series of poorly aimed shots, a pig that couldn’t play the piano and a boy whose only talent was to cup his ears with his hands and manipulate the suction between them to create a kind of muffled squelching sound.

So while there are plenty of morons on display here, the ritual humiliation that is a prerequisite for all Cowell productions just doesn’t cross over as effectively in this show. There is nothing, it seems, quite like seeing misguided cretins with no self-awareness publically destroy themselves while butchering a song.

In this respect it is not as amusing as the early rounds of the X-factor, but I have a feeling that the later rounds of BGT will not be quite so infuriating and intolerable either, meaning that instead of turning off when it starts getting serious (as most civilized folk do with the X-factor), the majority of viewers watching now will probably stick it out til the bitter end. (Myself not included, mind).

The winner of this orgy of tools gets ten grand and a slot at The Royal Variety Performance to mince about for Her Majesty’s pleasure, though if she’s been watching this bog-fodder, I imagine the Queen is already trying to think of ways to get out of having to attend. Personally, I’m not prepared to rule out her suicide at this point.

Let Me Entertain You

June 12, 2007

 Conley and the gang

If you need further proof, aside from Big Brother that is, that moronic dimwits are ten to the penny, then just sit down at half past six on a weekday and watch Let Me Entertain You. In fact, don’t. I’ve suffered so you don’t have to. If you’re not familiar with this shocking volcano of horseshit, then allow me to enlighten you – it’s basically a variety show hosted by Brian ‘arse-juice’ Conley, who freakishly doesn’t seem to have aged at all in the last 15 years. Conley kicks off each sorry episode by singing a song, usually one already completely overplayed such as ‘I’ve got you under my skin’ or some other such shit. Each act featured must keep the live studio audience entertained for three minutes. If they manage to do so, they win £1,000 and make it through to the final heats, covered in later episodes.

The catch is that each audience member has a button (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? style) which they press when they’ve had enough. When 50% of the audience are sufficiently bored, the act is cut short and must leave the stage. The trouble is that audience members are suckers for talentless and thoroughly sickening little brats. When I say sickening, is a medley of songs from The Sound Of Music performed by two young sisters – in nun’s clothing, no less – sickening enough for you?

The guiltiest of this particular parade of idiots though are not so much those who appear onstage (at least they’re trying, bless ’em), but the ones who make up the majority of the audience, as whenever a half decent act takes the stage (on one occasion a group of breakdancers, for example) half the twats have pressed their buttons about 30 seconds or so through the performance, meaning that often the act are off the stage after a minute as the audience silently take the piss.

Other than small children, the only others who seem to flourish in such a harsh environment are karaoke-type parrots who mindlessly mimick their way through hideous ‘chart busters’.

Like all variety shows, tackiness is key and although this, the second series, clearly has a more substantial production budget than the first, it still feels inexcusably cheap. What’s worse, however is that this show emphasises the very worst aspects of the two sides of the coin. On the one hand is the quality of entertainment available and more importantly what people qualify as being entertainment in the first place. Jugglers, can-can dancers, dated magic acts and Christina Aguilera wannabes make up the bulk of the show’s content; forms of entertainment which are either well past their prime or just plain horrific. Secondly, the format of the show. Regardless of how good the acts will be, the very concept of the show only serves to highlight the tragic point we appear to have reached in our desperation to be adequately amused for three minutes.

It is now a celebrated fact that the general British public is an extremely fickle lot, whose attention span is so pathetically short that it is in danger of sliding out of existence altogether.

I suppose the success (if that’s what it is) of this show, lies within the concept of giving the public their very own chance to be a Simon Cowell for half an hour by crudely putting an abrupt end to those performances deemed crap. Like Cowell though, the studio audience have no idea what constitutes real talent and in the end, it simply comes down to personal preference. Add this aspect to the fact that the age of the average audience member is between 40 – 60, and it’s no wonder the less offensive and more middle-of-the-road acts are the ones emerging most successful. Let Me Entertain You truly is fodder for Britain’s X-Factor generation. A phenomena which seems to have practically taken over not just most of Britain’s youth culture, but seemingly three quarters of Britain in general – regardless of age. In fact the word culture is a misnomer in this sense, as that is seemingly exactly what is lacking.