Friday, 12 November 2010

Smoking guns

As the X-Factor reaches the mid-point, it's clear who's tipped to win. Better head down to your local William Hill and place your bets now. I'll put a tenner on Simon Cowell - he's got this one in the bag.

Not with his hopeless attempt at resurrecting the age of the manufactured boyband - One Direction have all the charisma and vocal skills of nursery school pantomime. With slightly less body hair.

Simon's laughing all the way to the bank because once again, those timely 'leaks' from 'unnamed sources' have ensured that the X-Factor has dominated every tabloid front page for the last six weeks. In fact, I don't know why Syco even bothered launching 'The Official X-Factor Magazine' when the Sun or Daily Mail could have just redesigned their masthead and fitted the bill perfectly.

Sadly, the majority of the viewing public accept every bulletin, exclusive and revelation as though it's the gospel truth, and willingly subject themselves to the constant press maniupulation. This week it reached its nadir as Cheryl Cole refused to send one of her acts home, leaving the show's producers to go to a majority vote.

Unfortuantely, a brief interview with the Sun about how the show is put together, led tabloid hacks to proclaim that the show's host Dermot O'Leary had given them the smoking gun with which they could prove that the entire show is rigged.

The Daily Mail claimed: "One of the most controversial X Factor shows ever was last night exposed as nothing more than a charade. Presenter Dermot O’Leary revealed that Cheryl Cole’s decision not to vote when two of her acts were up against each other to escape the axe had been planned all along."

Except that's not really what happened at all. As Dermot explained (and then re-explained on Twitter for the hard-of-thinking audience), producers had briefly conferred about how to proceed if Cheryl refused to participate. Rather than casting a vote to take the decision to deadlock (which then reveals the lowest audience vote), Cheryl abstained completely. This way, the producers had a pre-prepared contingency to add a little more drama to the proceedings - in effect punishing Cheryl for non-participation.

Hardly a conspiracy to rival '9-11 was an inside job'. Assuming for a second that these mindless journalists actually believe any of the trash they print, how do they think a live show gets made? Does Dermot make it up as he goes along, with someone waving at the back of the studio to let him know when the time's up? Perhaps next week they'll uncover the name of the show's Stage Manager and use that as evidence that the show is planned ahead of time. 

The press want us to believe that Simon Cowell wants Katie to win, when nothing could be further from the truth. At best, she's good value to the X-Factor because the press are obsessed with her. On the rare occasion where they and the public are aligned in their distate for someone, it legitimises their love of bullying and gives them carte blanche to proceed without caution. 

The fact is, Katie can shout "sod it", drop to her knees and beg people to vote for her, like she did in last week's sing-off. But the audience have made it quite clear that she's a taste which none of us have acquired.  She, like Wagner, is only in the show for one reason. And winning isn't it. 

If audiences are genuinely furious about being manipulated, maybe they need to stop mooing long enough to question the bullshit they consume everyday, and remember that ultimately, it's a singing contest. The moment you make it any more than the sum of its parts, people start getting hurt. But you can bet that Simon Cowell won't be one of them. 

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