Why I Hate X-Factor (and lots of stuff like that)

It’s that time of year again, when Twitter becomes unusable, for me, on a Saturday evening, because it is full of people tweeting about X-Factor. And these are, largely, people I otherwise consider to be rationale human beings with some sense of judgement. They inexplicably appear to lose all that judgement when X-Factor is on.

Call me a cultural snob if you like, but I think I am the opposite. I’m going to write more fully about this elsewhere, but I feel compelled to set out at least the basics of what gets me so riled about this kind of reality television.

I believe everyone needs to find a way to explore their potential to find their place in the world. And, with a VERY few exceptions, X-Factor is not the environment to do this. Yes, we can all point to people who have made a personal success out of being catapulted to instant celebrity by reality TV shows. But, I would contend, the true success stories in this field are very isolated cases, and, very often, instant fame is a short-lived thing, with disastrous long-term consequences. And this is not to deal at all with the distasteful sight of people with serious delusions being exposed to public ridicule.

X-Factor and its ilk is one of the components of the modern “opium of the masses”. It is there to give people a false hope that anyone can find a short-cut to success, it sets up 99% of the people who enter for failure, and sends a message out to its audience that the way to go is to crash and burn.

There are a very few people who make a lot of money out of this kind of charade, and, in the main, they are not the people standing on the stage singing.

X-Factor makes me sad about human nature; sad about the deluded people who think they can find stardom; sad about the voyeurs who take pleasure in their delusions being exposed; and sad about those who make a living exploiting these delusions.

There, rant over. I don’t expect you to understand, but I’ve got it off my chest at least.

12 thoughts on “Why I Hate X-Factor (and lots of stuff like that)

  1. Every single bit of it scripted. A tasteless, over sentimentalised pantomime designed to promote the desire for talentless celebrity status.

  2. Agree. I can’t watch it.
    Unlike you I do watch the twitter stream when its on. I never see anyone tweet anything complimentary though. I think xfactor is a bit like the romans did in the coliseum, letting the Christians fight the lions…
    Sad state of our times, but so many ‘seem’ to enjoy it or they would turn it off? Weird.
    It is very rare I watch tv these days, I get my entertainment from social media. Its a lot more fun and more interactive.

  3. All Simon Cowell needs is a toga and to hold out his thump in an up or down position depending on the tone of the crowd behind him – and then the picture is complete.

    What’s your position on Dragons Den?

    • Thanks Rob.

      Dragon’s Den – I like it as entertainment, but it’s not at all helpful as a guide to doing business. Same with The Apprentice, really

  4. I think the technical term for the exploitation of deluded individuals is “tram smash television” of which Simon Cowell is the undisputed king. That said after a long hard week I do enjoy a bit of light entertainment and as such enjoy X-Factor

    No-one forced the talentless oiks to go on stage, unlike the poor Christians in the Coliseum. Perhaps if their friends were honest with them in the first place they would discourage their participation.

    You say that “with a very few exceptions, X-Factor is not the place” so are you saying that real talent has actually been found from the show? Would the dance group Diversity have ever got to appear at the Royal Variety Performance were it not for Britain’s Got Talent?

  5. I so agree with your post! I’ve been having a major discussion with a friend of mine on Facebook tonight, prompting me to
    write my own blog post about the nature of the X Factor programme, and although I do enjoy the latter part of the series,
    where you do get to see some talented people perform, I cannot agree with the exploitation of deluded contestants!

    I seem to be in the minority – most of the people I know who watch X Factor do so in order to laugh at all the dreadful people
    they put through purely for entertainment value. I just find it demeaning. No one is forced to go up and audition it is true.
    But for some people the dream should come to an end right there – after their first audition. My particular issue with the show
    is putting people through to the televised auditions not because they’re good but because they will make ‘good tv’.

    I should probably just stop watching it altogether but they do have some good people on there sometimes. Oh well, I can at
    least avoid watching the early stages!

  6. I’m somewhat torn on the human nature argument, though the coliseum analogy is delicious;

    “the more things change, the more they stay the same”

    Shouldn’t mass market tv appeal to the “average” tv viewer?
    It’s not for everyone but I think it needs to exist. I don’t watch TV either, social media junkie here, there just isn’t enough time in the day to sit and do something that doesn’t involve human interaction. Passive entertainment just stumps me =p

    Honestly these talent shows aren’t so bad, but mass market appeal won’t be found by many of the more niche acts – not to say the exposure couldn’t get them a more alternative contract.
    If you are even half decent, getting on TV could be just the publicity you need to start your entertainment career.

    All this from someone that’s only ever seen a couple episodes worth, take with grains/handfuls of salt.

  7. The whole thing is snobbish to begin with – the idea that the deluded but bad are there to be mocked, and that the deluded but “good” should be a) judged on how well they can warble at full power and b) judged by a panel of 3-4 people at all. It’s about finding the extremes and turning them into parodies of themselves.

    I try to ignore it. It just depresses me when there are so many *talented* musicians out there – not just singers, but technically-accomplished musicians, songwriters, singers with subtlety, and performers with *passion* for what they do rather than who do it for the fame. I feel sad that we have an industry that rewards those who are most easily sellable rather than all of these people.

    It feels like there could be so much more … appreciation on Saturday nights.

  8. I also wrote a poem about this but I do mine on stage. And as it’s punk poetry, there is a lot of swearing so you’ve been warned 🙂

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