No wait! That’s America’s Got Talent isn’t it?
Indeed AGT's Piers Morgan pressed that red X buzzer often to dismiss the bad act then upon and indeed again, as the horrible acts on the premiere of Fox's The X Factor seared my ears and roiled my brain, I did so wish the judges had those handy X buzzers or even some kind of big clanging bong thing to send the talentless packing.
My summary of this series is it deserves three big red X’s of disapproval and disdain, I must sniff.
But okay, I’m a competitive reality show junkie. The format for The X Factor is formulaic but by me the formula was pushed a bit too far, clear to the realm of tasteless and disbelief.
At the beginning of the competition upon, the reality show is generally featured in specific locations. To warm up the viewers to the judges, the host, the type of talent to be offered, various acts from the locales are featured.
Often a generous build-up will pique the viewer’s interest as the next performer waxes on in a solo camera vignette his or her wishes for a victory along with assertions of their talent supreme. The locales featured in the premiere of The X Factor were Los Angeles and Seattle. The way the various acts were introduced followed this formula.
The viewers were warmed up to a contender, fed snippets of a busy life. One elder couple -- as this singing competitive reality show allows solo and group singers anywhere from over age 12 to no upper limit -- was promoted before the act as a couple of great senior citizens denied the chance to feature their talent for their age.
The wife was in her 80s, the husband in is 70s, they’d spent a lifetime trying to get at least a tryout, that finally through the kindness of Simon Cowell they’d have that chance to sing with their talented hearts. I was almost in tears for this elder team so talented yet denied display for their age.
Of course they were perfectly awful and none of the judges had the chance to press the red X button so we had to sit and listen to the horror and wonder how on earth the producers of this show think it so cool to de facto make a mockery of this couple by allowing their act on the air.
What was even more baffling, the contenders on this series given praise and sunshine by the judges really were not that good. One act, a fellow named, I’m not making this up, Siameze Floyd, did something on stage he called singing but sounded like melodic screaming to me. Floyd also squatted and split and bounced around the stage in some kind of net shirt thing that showed his man boobs.
To my utter surprise, all of the judges put Siameze through, even Simon. Yes, THAT Simon Cowell, the fellow known as the toughest and meanest on American Idol! On his prior series Simon would have sent Siameze Floyd packing after the first audition and Simon would not have been nice about it.
A couple of the other acts featured singers that were, eh, okay. There was a 12 year-old, great voice for that age, but she screeched a few times. I’d go along that she maybe deserved one more shot at the prize but the praised heaped on this child by the judges left my jaw flat on the floor. She told a story of how poor she was, how her big family lived in a house with only two bedrooms, and suddenly dawn breaks over my marble head.
For I’d participated in a conference call with Simon Cowell as part of my great influence as scribe to the swanky for competitive reality TV and I recalled something Simon said during that interview that struck me as odd. I quote my own article from The Morton Report on that conference call:
Simon emphasized that the singer’s “back story” -- i.e. the story of their lives up to the contest, their dreams, their goals, their prior heartbreaks -- will be as much a part of any victory as their singing talent. I’m not at all convinced this should matter all that much but Simon Cowell is adamant that a singing star is a product of both talent and a life history.
Next up a single mother. Again, she had a good voice, she tackled and almost handled an Aretha Franklin song. But she too had some screeching going on.
Stacey had a sad story. She’d been involved with a fellow who belittled her singing talent so that she didn’t try for the fame her voice deserved.
She had two children, she’s a single mother, she works hard, loves her children, wants to make them proud. She threw over her male tormenter and struggles to raise her children alone.
I know the following sentiment is not going to be popular but come on, being a single parent is most times a CHOICE. There’s plenty of birth control all around, never mind the rightness of it but abortion is still readily available.
Beyond an unexpected death, single parenthood can be a yes or no opportunity and raising children alone due to divorce is not your standard single parent definition, don't even try it. I think it’s time we stop worshipping single mothers because they could, throwing it out there, either NOT have these children or maybe marry their father.
So Stacey’s boo-hooing all over the stage. The judges were cluck clucking her sad story and praising her for an almighty singing talent which wasn’t all the wonderful for those of us with working ears. If Stacey deserved to move on it was for her talent, and she did have some, not her single parenthood status.
Next had a young man named Chris. Chris is a garbage collector but he’s recently out of a stint in rehab. Indeed, for all of 70 days Chris has been clean and right there I’m scratching my head. I mean it’s encouraging, but 70 days is not all that long to be drug free and the judges think this fellow should have a place in line to receive this competition’s five million dollar prize?
Chris sang a song that he wrote, “Young Homey.” Please. It was not a bad song, do not misundestand. This song and Chris’ performance were not the stuff of five million dollars and no way would the Simon Cowell we all knew from American Idol have passed him through.
Again, the judges lavished effusive praise on Chris, softly soliciting promises that he would not revert back to his drug habits with Chris assuring them he would not because, hey he’s been clean for 70 days!
If becomes apparent that The X Factor is a musical competition series in which the contenders with the saddest story and a modicum of talent has the edge. Simon complained during that earlier telephone interview that by him American Idol winners were only the popular and not necessarily the most talented and my experience is that there’s some truth to this.
The concept of giving an edge to those competitors who have the most heart-rending history is not the way to go. Although I hasten to point out that there’s an element of mentoring to this competition, that contenders are going to be assigned to these talented judges and assumedly given intense music training, star packaging, that type of thing. This is an element of a musical reality competition series that intrigues but it's not a new concept, witness The Voice.
There was nothing at all cute or funny about this guy. As I described above with the elderly couple example, reality show acts are often hyped up to finally show their talent onstage when it is learned that the talent is not there. If nothing else it’s a lesson in how come people delude themselves that they have talent that they do not.
Geo Godly came out wearing some kind of weird flannel pajama things, assuring the judges that they would soon be bowled over with his skill. He could not sing but that wasn’t the worst. The guy dropped his pants and completely exposed himself on stage if yon viewer was to believe that X Factor logo artfully placed over Godly’s mid-area so obviously covering that which the TV audience should not see.
Adding to this stupid stunt, which didn’t HAVE to be televised as by the time this thing hit the air the producers surely were aware of what happened, Paula Abdul suddenly gets up to leave the judge’s table. The cameras follow Abdul down to the bowels of the arena all the way to a bathroom where we can hear the sound of Paula retching. What numbskull scripted this piece of melodrama so totally unbelievable?
It was the stupidest, dumbest, most asinine piece of reality TV that I’m convinced had audiences across the fruited plains rolling their eyes.
Is this the best The X Factor can do?
The X Factor airs on Wednesday nights on Fox, at 8p/7c. Come back and check for updates on this series via this column and for goodness sakes hope that it gets better!
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