Posts Tagged ‘X Factor’

Just A Thought – The Future Of ITV

March 17, 2009

There’s been a lot of hoo-ha in the meejia over the continuing decline of ITV. Britain’s third channel has recently shelved family favourites such as Heartbeat and The Royal, there are rumblings that local news will eventually disappear from our screens and many of the lavish dramas the channel is justly celebrated for have either already been canned or cancelled before a shot’s been filmed. Indeed, if advertising revenue continues to plummet, there’s a real worry that ITV could cease to exist entirely.

If this happened, we’d lose quite a lot of very popular and, in some cases, important television: Coronation Street, The Bill, Emmerdale, The X Factor, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, Taggart, A Touch Of Frost, Harry Hill’s TV Burp, I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!, You’ve Been Framed, Midsomer Murders … love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s no denying ITV still pumps out some big ass shows. The loss of Coronation Street, for example, would be a hammer-blow to the very heart of what makes British television unique, and a personal tragedy for millions of viewers.

But would this really happen? If ITV dies the death many pundits fear, would a show as culturally significant as Coronation Street be allowed to go down in flames with the rest of the channel? Surely another broadcaster would come to its rescue? I don’t believe for one minute that a show that regularly brings in an audience of 14 million viewers would be consigned to the history books because the place it’s called home for the last forty nine years disappears from under it. If the worst happened, I strongly suspect Coronation Street would be snapped up by the likes of Sky One. Hell, I could even see it on the BBC.

If something as identifiably ‘ITV’ as Coronation Street appearing elsewhere seems hard to contemplate, just remember it wouldn’t be the first time. ITV originally broadcast Men Behaving Badly, yet it was the BBC that turned it into the comedy juggernaut it later became. Auf Wiedersehen, Pet had two series on channel three before being successfully revived, once again, by the good old BBC. And let’s not forget both Channel 5 and Sky have gone resurrection crazy with rubbish such as Gladiators, Minder, Going For Gold and Superstars shitting blood all over the schedules.

If we were to lose ITV, I suspect, sadly, that we’d never see the likes of Frost, Midsomer Murders or Taggart again, but I reckon the loss of the channel wouldn’t necessarily mean the loss of Coronation Street, The Bill, Emmerdale or Millionaire. I’d be willing to bet the truly inspired TV Burp would resurface on Channel 4, and you can bet your arse the monumentally greedy Simon Cowell would be banging on Rupert Murdoch’s door to make sure both The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent didn’t go the way of the dodo. Similarly, I’m A Celebrity would be so at home on Sky, I’m surprised it’s not there already.

Losing ITV would be, for many of us, like losing a beloved family member. However, like the old family photos you come across every now and again, the bits and bobs of theirs you find in a drawer, there would be enough mementos of it about to keep its memory alive.

Indeed, the death of ITV could be the best thing that ever happened to the channel. We’d still have all its best bits spread about the schedules, and none of the shit that has brought the channel’s reputation to its knees. That, bizarrely, could be ITV’s saving grace.

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The X Factor – Quarter Final

December 3, 2008

And so the longest advert in history trundles on, destroying all that might dare to threaten the global dominance of Cowell et al. The contest itself is an irrelevance, a deus ex machina of neccessity in place to guarantee the further financial obliteration of all rivals and to homogenise the music industry so that it can be controlled by one man and his Blackberry.

There was a time when asset-stripping was a tactic reserved exclusively for the hardnosed Gordon Gecko’s of the world, but Cowell has admirably stepped into those shoes – cherry-picking the elements of art, music and culture that will make him the most profit and willingly discarding all that is extraneous and unnecessary. Even the songs the contestants perform are fractured into two thirds of their original length, just in case the audience become bored or there’s not enough space left for tie-in adverts, painfully repetitive VT autocues and phone number announcing.

It’s hard to blame the contestants here. Each have genuine talent and see the show as an opportunity to become recording stars. They naively believe they’ll be the ones to defy the curse of Cowell-meddling that will see them reduced to bargain bins and further reality show humiliation over the next few years.

It’s sad to think that, not only does that man resculpt the still growing identities of a number of teenagers to further his swelling bank account, he also does it under the guise of concern and consideration. He’s an evil soul – not the pantomime villain he plays – but the face of corporate greed, pummelling and psychologically bullying all in favour of a third house in Barbados.

The X-Factor didn’t used to get to me too much in the years past – it was always an ignorable piece of fluff that didn’t matter much. I’d watch the auditions for a laugh and then abandon the show as the remaining contestants were whittled down to the least offensive, most bland nadir and then roll my eyes at the woeful Christmas release that inevitably followed.

This year I’ve stayed with it all the way through – mostly at the bequest of my lady – and I’ve found my eyes opened to the summit of evil that the show really is.

The music industry is, by and large, a hugely corrupt and morally bankrupt industry. The X-Factor manages to represent that far better than any sharply-worded critique or snappily dressed indie anthem ever could. From the fawning faux-praise of the grown up Martin Prince that is Louis Walsh, to the bought-and-paid-for ‘controversies’ in the newspapers, this is not a television programme – it’s a vertically integrated business model that’s found a legally allowable method of advertising during the period in which networks are meant to be broadcasting content.

This week was Britney week. The overproduced pop princess decided to bestow a rare UK miming event upon us and so, as a result, we were forced to watch a clinically depressed redneck being forced to pretend to sing her latest vocoder-featuring single while a bunch of semi-talented amateurs all murder her previous hits by occasionally alternating the intonation on a couple of words.

Actually, scratch that, it wasn’t Britney week – it was Disney Cross-Platform UK Tween-Push week as the show also featured, inexplicably, an appearance by Kevin Federline fuckee-in-waiting Miley Cyrus and a ‘spirited’ performance of a High School Musical number by the shows resident dashboard-nodding grandson fantasy, Eoghan Quigg.

And yes, Britney – poor, poor Britney. If ever there was a warning shot across the brow of the contestants it’s Britney. Brought in to stumble across the floor, forget which lyrics to lip-synch to and to display no knowledge of what show she was on – she was a walking / talking advert for the destructive nature of fame. Still the contestants blithely waffled on about how fame and money were their dreams. It was like watching smackheads looking at an ODd corpse and not being able to make the connection.

Dead-eyed Britney was the low point of a show that has plumbed the depths more times than I can count. I wouldn’t object so much if it acknowledged its fakery, but it insists on ploughing ahead, repeating the lies enough times to be heard as truths – it’s about the artists, it’s about music, it’s about making people’s dreams come true.

It’s none of these. It’s about making money – huge, unimaginable piles of money – and may God have mercy upon whatever singers, songs, impressionable children and cultural legacies get in its way.

The X Factor (again)

October 6, 2008

Auditions? We’re past all that now. Boot Camp? Stick your Boot Camp – we’ve moved on! Luxury Villas? Gah – you’re too late! Because we’re on the brink of the Live Finals now! It’s time to put on your snazziest balaclava and apply lipstick to your nipples as Saturday Nights become X Factor showbiz bonanzas!

In truth, I’ve never made it to this point before with the X Factor. Like most right-minded folk, my interest wanes after the auditions. It’s more fun tutting over the modern bedlam of the regional try-outs, as mentally-impaired plebs line up for humiliation than it is listening to a load of half-arsed, half-baked sob stories and lies. But this time, somehow, I’ve hung on in there. And now I’m DAMNED if I’m going to give up. I’m a scabrous barnacle clinging to the X Factor’s arse and I’ll not be letting go until we land at victory’s shore.

Over the weekend, the luxury pad section consisted of that arsehole Danni Minogue ruining the lovely Suzie‘s chances of another stab at fame (despite the fact that she’s one degree of separation away from being properly famous herself).

Suzie was once in The 411 – a fact which everyone seems to have forgotten about. I’m sure I haven’t made them up. Doesn’t matter anyway – a blonde Ricky Gervais lookalike took her place. There’ll be no votes for him from the red-blooded males who took Suzie to their hearts.

Nice to see Danni for a bit, mind you – considering she’s usually almost completely edited out to make way for (that arsehole) Cheryl Cole’s footage.

Speaking of the devil, we also saw (that arsehole) Cheryl Cole mucking about somewhere hot, floating around in a white dress and sitting on white sheets as she destroyed the dreams of people more talented than her.

And we also watched Simon Cowell (that arsehole) kicking out Alan Turner. He had to kick Turner out, because he’s a cheat – though the show went to great lengths to cover its arse on this – with Cowell asking him straight and repeatedly saying ‘I believe you’ when he heard the response. That was before he booted him out, presumably because he didn’t believe him.

There were no other real surprises apart from (that arsehole) Louis Walsh kicking out some nice young Motown singing children. They couldn’t get their act together, but they were the only performers with any real charm… He’s lumbered with the groups. The groups never win. So it doesn’t really matter anyway.

Let’s look at the movers and shakers in the four sets of final threes. Does that make sense?

Boys – mentored by (that arsehole) Simon Cowell

Scott Bruton
That brute Scott Bruton got through despite being a Pontins no-hoper. The former bluecoat has sorted his hair out (which in X Factor world means shaving it) but is still not much cop at singing. In fact, he’s not much to look at neither (I’m reliably informed). Let’s move on.

Austin Drage
Austin has a name that wouldn’t look out of place in a Dickens novel or a seventies sitcom and for that reason alone, I like the boy. Cowell reckons he reeks of desperation, but when he says this he overlooks the fact that every single person that auditions is a desperate wannabe, so it’s a moot point. Come on Austin. WWM is behind you – unless you win. Then we’ll hate you. Our underdogs must remain lowly canines and never rise to winner status. Underachieve or be scorned.

Eoghan Quigg
Another weird name on this one. Any ideas how we’re meant to pronounce this? I’ve forgotten how they referred to him on screen. I think they just whistled at him and he came running, like a little blonde terrier. 15 years old with the voice of an emasculated Ian Paisley, he’s going to be a Mum’s favourite whilst simultaneously having all of Ireland on his side. Could win it.

Girls – mentored by (that arsehole) Cheryl Cole

Alexandra Burke
Alexandra tried out for the X factor a few years ago and failed at the luxury villa section – but not this time! This time, when told she’d made it to the humiliation of the Live Finals, she wept like a woman who’d lost her favourite pair of shoes in a fire that had wiped out her family. For a pretty girl, she don’t half weep ugly.

Diana Vickers
With one of those faces that screams ‘I’m really annoying!’ and a haircut to match, Diana isn’t bothered by fame – she ‘just wants to be up on stage doing something she loves’. Which makes the fact that she’s never gigged a bit baffling. Her reaction to Cheryl’s good news was cringeworthy. Faux-sincerity and teeth-grinding cheeriness abounded. They refer to her as ‘little hippy’ when she’s clearly a Nazi beneath all those flowing clothes.

Laura White
She’s a northern Amy Winehouse minus the drug-dependency, pale and interesting looks and vinegar-soaked vocal stylings. So, essentially, she’s a bit of a non-entity with Amy Winehouse’s hairstyle.

Over 25s – mentored by (that arsehole) Danni Minogue

Daniel Evans
This blonde Ricky Gervais smiler was chosen ahead of Suzie – so minus points from the off.

Rachel Hylton
Rachel’s representing the street, yeah? At 26, she’s got five kids and custody over two of them. One of them is 13. Do the mathematics. Hard not to like Rachel. She’s been to prison, been addicted to drugs and still found time to pop out more kids than she knows what to do with. You have to admire a background as chaotic as that simply because it is completely insane.

Ruth Lorenzo
Hola senorita! Our taste of Spain – Ruth Lorenzo – is a beguiling mess of unwashed hair, loads of eyeliner and denim that is far too tight. She sometimes sings in Spanish! She got a big bottom! She actually cries whilst crooning! Marvellous.

Groups – mentored by (that arsehole) Louis Walsh

Bad Lashes
What kind of name is that? I’ll tell you what kind of name it is – a rubbish one that makes you think of really craply applied mascara. These girls were clearly assembled before the auditions from adverts in local newspapers or an airfix model kit. They’re so obviously a corporate creation that they’re barely worth talking about – but it’s worth watching how they hold themselves. They’re permanently posing like shop window mannequins. At first this is amusing, but then it’s downright terrifying.

Girlband
And the prize for the least inventive name goes to… what were they called again?
Girlband all have the look of people you’ve seen somewhere before. Isn’t that Charlotte Church… but a bit younger? I’m sure I’ve seen her before. Former page 3? Married a footballer… come on – you know the one. Was Miss GB for a bit. No? Wasn’t that one in Hollyoaks? I’m sure I’ve seen her in Club International… etc..etc…

JLS
With a name that makes them sound like an airline rather than a boyband, I can’t remember anything at all about these chaps. Sorry.

So there you go!

Gear yourself up for long autumn weeks spent with these hopefuls as they sing for your votes, Saturday after Saturday after Saturday. Keep your eye out for a ‘LOUIS WALKS’ headline and your ears pricked for rumours of a phone-rigging scandal.

A miserable, drizzly October starts right here as we head for the absolute fucking nightmare of winter with those X Factor bastards’ overstressed syllables warbling in our ears, like aggressive, sponsored tinnitus.

Get dialling.

Dragons’ Den – 22.10.07

October 23, 2007

Alien 

Bannatyne is now so firmly embedded in my head as his alter ego – an 80s club singer – that I half expect him to start singing ‘Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You’ by Glen Madeiros at any given moment, every time I sit down to watch the Den. Or maybe a burst of ‘Girl I’m Gonna Miss You’ by Milli Vanilli. Or anything Tony Hadley sang. As it’s an hour long show I reckon they could shoe-horn in three minutes at half time for a quick medley from Duncan. It would also act as a nice way of balancing their hardass natures onscreen, giving us a glimpse into the Dragon’s offscreen hopes and fears and stop them from looking like the smug, Thatcherite arseholes they so clearly are.

Someone mentioned that DD is stale by now in the comments section of last week’s article. I beg to differ. I don’t think this show willl ever go stale. There are always rubbish inventors in the world, just as there are always amazing new inventions round the corner. There’s no shortage of idiots chasing their pointless dreams who we can laugh at from our positions of inertia without realising these folly-bound individuals are a step above us because at least they’re trying. They’re trying aren’t they? Unlike you, sat on your arse, content to do the same job, day-upon-day so long as you get home in time for the ‘Enders. You lazy shit.

Each episode is essentially a sketch show, five or six episodes of equally balanced content wherein two of four pitchers will n’doubt get a deal, whilst the others will be laughed at. X Factor for boffins, really, with the judges arguably far more qualified to cast aspersions as their pedigree is indisputable – they’re fucking wealthy, like it or not.

The opening pitch last night was for an amiable piece of tat called the Yoodoodoll. Despite having a Hoxton haircut and a vest top showing off a large tattoo, the Dragons warmed to the presenter of the dolls, which shows them to be hypocrites in light of the fact Pink Quiff Man was made to exit stage right last week. Obviously as long as your outlandish look is 21st century, then body modification and crazy cuts are ok with the Dragons. The dolls were pretty much useless – a briefly amusing stocking filler – but Caan and Meaden went into the bidding, with Meaden inexplicably winning despite asking for 45% of the company to Caan’s 40%. Sisters doing it for themselves, perhaps, but is Meaden really a sister? I suspect she’s more asexual alien life-form than human, but I’ll resist the temptation to investigate further.

Some golf gizmo was covered quickly, looked far too complex for my tender brain, so I made a cup of tea during that bit. An older lady then took centre stage trying to flog some learning aids. Y’know – for kids. They were just bits of plastic in the shape of numbers, so after Bannatyne kicked her into the dust with a salient point about copyrighting digits, she trotted back down the stairs, tail between her legs after over-enthusiastically proclaiming her levels of enthusiasm.

At some point a bizarre episode clicked in wherein a hispanic lady tried to sell an ironing board that came in a cabinet. it was kind of a cabinet / ironing board hybrid. Imagine a small, ugly cabinet that had been raped by an ironing board. Then imagine its horrible offspring. It looked sort of like that – and promptly got laughed off the floor.

The ‘infant training mechanism’ was an interesting one. Essentially it was a ping pong ball with a cartoon face on it, designed to stay face-up while being peed on, so that kids enjoy getting off their potties and using a grown up lav. Girls could also use it, the pitcher opined, as the sitting back motion required when aiming would prevent them leaning forward and weeing all over the carpet. Unpleasant images, unwlecome and vivid, couldn’t help but force themselves into the viewer’s mind’s eye. Yes – wazzing is all well and good, me and the missus declared – but what if you get the runs and get all poo all over it. Even if you pop out a floater, imagine it sailing on toilet water with that weird little blue face peeking out from behind it. When does this silly little ball get washed? Does it live its entire life in a piss / shit / flush cycle? I couldn’t see it working.

The pitcher gained kudos, lord only knows why, for his presentation, despite the fact that all Dragons rolled their eyes on his opening gambit: ‘May I ask how many of you are currently toilet-training?’. He must have picked up somewhere along the way, as Caan, eager to seem like he’s one of the crew already, pitched in, but it all came to nowt. Caan should thank his lucky stars.

Finally, and inevitably, a fresh-faced middle class couple managed to get some cash when their terminally dull poker-email system got Theo’s go-ahead, after some overlong wrangling. A duller and more annoying product you won’t see all year. Stick ‘online capabilities’ into a sentence when pitching and the confused Dragons get all excited, for some reason. This was glamourised spam, and these two are now £200,000 more likely to be filling gamblers inboxes with rubbish thanks to the Dragons.

Next week, just imagine Bannatyne in a jump suit, banging out his club-style version of the Ballet’s ‘Gold’. It works, for some reason. Always believe in your soul.

The X Factor

August 28, 2007

My how things change with time. If I had reviewed this programme even a few months ago I would have condemned it as a crime against television – as a soulless and heartless exploitation of people’s gullibility, as a shameless rewriting of the talent show format and populated by the arrogant and egotistical who are involved solely to further their already bottomless bank accounts.

However, age has mellowed me, and when you compare it to the bottom-scraping conceptual rip-offs that followed, it now seems like a bastion of moral programming…

With the start of this, the fourth series, I have realised that it is actually a work of a genius. This 180º switch came with a simple and seemingly innocuous statement made by my girlfriend as we watched yet another wide shot of thousands of people claiming to have the requistite factor.

“My God” she said. “I can’t believe that there are still this many people who think they have talent.” And then it came to me. The X-Factor is a public service helping to rid us of the torrent of talentless fucktards who believe that they are destined to be famous.

Cowell, Osbourne, that Irish one – they’ve all seen the light. They’ve realised that the show they innocently kickstarted has spawned a monster, a deadly and all-consuming notion that anybody and everybody should have their shot at fame. The hundreds and thousands of guiless, tone-deaf, monosyllabic cock-juggling thundercunts who turn up to each audition are the direct result of the success of these talent shows.

Far from giving those with genuine ability a chance to shine, they have become a celebration of mediocrity and have helped cultivate this concept of amateur celebrity that is threatening to engulf us all.

Thus, the new series of X Factor has become about atonement; about apologising for what came in the original’s wake and helping to stem the tide before it’s too late. Sure, the occasional person with talent slips through and I gather that there is some sort of competition after the auditions that helps nuture them – but that is no longer the point. Now it is about the mission of four people to rid the ignorant fools of their delusions and to save us from their witless dreams. And they’re doing it one person at a time.

For each arrogant gimp who claims to be the next Robbie, or Madonna, or Boyzone, or Shane Ward, there is a tailor-made put down to stop them in their tracks. Each snidey comment by Simon Cowell is not about crushing the hopes and dreams of ordinary people like you and me, it’s about stopping these morons before they become pub-singers, or cover bands, or novelty acts. If just one of these witheringly sarcastic statements or honest criticisms get through to their intended targets then we could well be saved from another Cheeky Girl…

The X Factor is like killing Hitler before he has a chance to come to power. It’s about bitch-slapping the shelf-stackers and keeping them in their place, it’s about grabbing hold of those twats who stagger home from the Nags Head singing ‘Wonderwall’ and saying “shut up, you fucking dick”.

We should be thankful to Cowell et al for this form of artistic vigilantism, for doing us all a favour and severing any chance of these karaoke-insulting prickfucks trying any harder.

Sure the format hasn’t changed – it’s the same emotion-wringing montages, the same mix of staged confrontations, the same sad stories of self belief – but now it’s about cutting off the surge of socially inept optimists and halting any further damage that they might inflict upon our already fragile culture.

The most heartbreaking moments are when the rejected vow to carry on regardless, as if being told that singing like a diseased warthog is akin to overcoming some form of horrific disability. They should heed the advice of the ‘experts’ and quietly roll over and never threaten to darken our doorsteps again.

This series has the added bonus of a fourth ‘irrelevant’ judge in the form of Danni Minogue, a woman who is surely only still in the public eye because she shares a surname with the worlds most famous antipodean. On the offchance she gains some credibility from this reappearance on our screens I’d like to print the following picture. Just look at those half-moon tits, like Morph and his grey friend have curled up and died on them, and remember that she is now considered an authority on talent.

Minogue 

X Factor, I salute your noble intentions.

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.