Tag Archives: The X Factor

The X Factor

It was the best of T.V. It was the worst of T.V.

Simon Cowell’s slick marketing has paid off in our house. Our family jumped right on the bandwagon last night – or at least pulled up a chair to watch the fallout. He’s a money-grubbing jerk and I really can’t stand him, so what am I doing here? What is the allure of reality T.V?

It appeals to our worst instincts….

You know, the one that taps on the brakes when you pass by an accident. The one that has you craning your neck to catch  a glimpse of the fashion faux-pas your children are snickering about. The one that perks up your ears when the couple in the booth behind you is having a heated argument. These are the instincts that make reality T.V. so appealing.

We’re amused when people play the fool. We enjoy a chance to heckle with impunity (or maybe that’s just me). And there is something interesting about seeing just HOW BAD it can get, whether it is dancing, singing, or contrived social situations.

In the grand tradition of She Bang there were many “What the WHAT?” contestants last night. The perennial question is: are these people actually trying or is it just a cheap ploy to get their 5 minutes of fame? For their sake, I hope it’s the latter. Although the shocked and outraged rants following can be rather convincing; perhaps a future in acting?

Note to parents: When watching reality T.V. with children in the room one must keep a finger on the fast forward button at all times. We have taught our kids to yell “BEEP” when something happens with which we disagree. This is a fine time for moral discussions and exploring our family’s stance on _________ (insert: sluttiness, profanity, grandstanding, arrogance, stupid hair cuts), and that’s just the judges.

Case in point: the low light of the night’s episode was a smarmy middle-aged hippy in velour pajamas singing his anthem “I’m a stud, not a dud” while stripping off said pjs. Even in fast forward this was horrifying. I’m slightly disturbed that his profession was listed as “internet blogger.” Are these my people now?

I’m not a complete idiot. My brother-in-law is a big cheese in this industry, so I know that reality shows are not entirely (or even mostly) real. Yet somehow I am willing to overlook the obnoxious shenanigans, shameless self promotion and forced emotion to find the happy ending.

It appeals to our best instincts…

It’s not all hip thrusts and screeching; there are also the highly cheesy but deeply satisfying “diamond in the rough” storylines too. Tonight is was the cute 13 year old who announced to the world that her family “has, like, no money” and then went on to sing like a seasoned pro. And the heavily tattooed garbage man fresh out of rehab trying to prove something to his young son, singing a touching if unfortunately named original song, “Young Homie”.

But the real tear jerker for me was single mom Stacy Francis. After years in an abusive relationship, she began to believe that she was not talented enough, not young enough, not good enough, quite simply not enough.  At 42 she stepped up and said, “I don’t want to die with this music in me.” She sang Natural Woman in front of thousands, if not millions of people, and blew us away. Whether fame and fortune follows or not, she gave the world a moment of pure brilliance.

Was it real? Does it matter? Despite the over the top theatrics, there is something uplifting about watching people succeed, even if it is only for a moment.

So here’s me, with one finger on fast forward and one eye open for the next Susan Boyle (or William Hung, whatever).

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