The X-(ploited) factor

Everyone at some point in their life is asked the question ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ or’what do you want to do when you leave school’ and when i used to get asked these questions id simply say I didn’t know and if I’m honest I still don’t. Like many kids I once dreamed of being an astronaut or a footballer and probably a racing driver and as I got older I wanted to be a guitarist or singer in a rock band. Sadly not only did I not poses the ability to do any of these things I also never really felt strongly enough about pursuing any of them as a career anyway. Consequently I have really just gone where the ebb and flow of life has taken me. I’m most certainly not saying this is right or wrong it’s just how it’s worked for me and therefore I’ve always been slightly envious and jealous of those who have been able to set their own life plan and see it through.

Inevitably the most talented individuals will make it happen for themselves and the cream always rises to the top whether its in business, sport, industry,science or music.Talented people will begin to stand out from the crowd and get further encouraged and promoted and then managed by the best. Businesses court fresh talent, talent scouts would alert sports clubs of talented athletes, a&r men would try and sign bands to record labels and institutions would try to secure the very best scientists to unearth new discoveries. Of course hard work,good fortune and good timing all play a massive part in achieving success and all successful people can identify one or more teachers or managers for whom without them life may well have turned out differently.

Musicians used to form bands and singers would either join them or go it alone and then set about writing material to perform to waiting audiences. Record labels would send their scouts to these clubs to check them out and of course while many got signed most were ignored but those that made it did so on merit and those that didn’t either tried again or gave up.But whereas talent used to be spotted these days it’s farmed. And indeed farmed on a massive scale.Gone are the days where effort was put into going out and finding the next big thing these days arenas are hired,the local population is trawled and from the tens of thousands that are caught in the net a handful are pulled to one side and teased with the notion that they could be the next big thing. The rest are thrown back into the sea but not before the viewing public get to view and ridicule them on tv.

The businessmen who run this tv show know that whilst it might take one scout a lifetime to uncover another Beatles you could very easily uncover a dozen Chesney Hawkes, Michelle McManus or Shane wotisname and therefore rather than break one icon you could make quick money by giving a dozen dreamers their 15 minutes in the spotlight. Worse still is that whilst some of what the X factor turns up is undeniably good the rest is not. Massively not. For every Alexandra Burke there’s a Chico,Wagner, and Johnny Robinson and for every Chico,Wagner and Johnny Robinson there’s an Eva Cassidy who died virtually unknown because record companies would rather make the next boy band than make a star.But bosses know that more people want to watch the circus freaks as well as the boy bands so many talents are left out because the producers know that if they put a whackjob in with the talented ones greater publicity will be achieved and given how we love an underdog they know we will keep voting to keep them in. The more votes means the more profit.

So this really leads me to my main gripe with the the X-factor.These programmes are 0% to do with unearthing talent. 30% of what they do is about selling music and 70% is about making Simon Cowell richer. The acts that get to be on tv during the audition stages are simply there to be ridiculed and laughed at.This is all done to boost publicity through word of mouth which generates an audience which produces ratings.If ratings slip producers resort to sex.We hear of sex between contestants or even sex tapes from the mentors,a vote rigging scandal will surface, a charity donation will be made and Simon himself may allow it to be known that he is stressed out/on pain killers/a sex addict etc etc. Meanwhile the mentors themselves will release books or singles to help line their own pockets because this particular show now only exists to promote its owner and the mentors particularly Tulisa who is currently flogging her autobiography by telling everyone who reads the sun how promiscuous she is . The whole thing stinks.

But in the midst of all of this are a bunch of kids who have their dreams shattered live on tv in front of the nation by a presenter who will drag out the announcement to inflict maximum pain and stress upon them. These are the kids who when asked the question ‘ what do you want to do when you grow up’ reply ‘I wanna be a singer or famous’,they are the ones who unlike me have the balls to at least give it a try and have some direction,put themselves out there to be shot at and judged by a group of people who ,Gary Barlow aside,couldn’t sell out a phone box yet alone an arena and then have the cheek to mime when it comes to their own performance. These kids are made to believe they have massive futures and will become stars forever, fame fortune and glory. Simon will tell them how amazing they are and then quietly drop them a year later when the inevitable sales slump arrives but while the Chesneys,Michelle’s and Shane’s go back to stacking shelves at tescos Simon will buy his new private island.Or jet.



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