Friday, June 5, 2009

Britain's Got Talons


Mr Smug, Sally Tuppence, Max Headroom

Britain's Got Talent is the top-rated TV show in the UK. Everybody's talking about it. But is it any good ? Of course not - it's absolute crap, proving yet again that you can dig forever and still be no closer to finding the lowest common denominator. Even the name of the show is offensive. If Britain truly has "got talent", then there should be no need to state the fact. If there is any talent out there, it sure as hell won't be found by a panel featuring Max Headroom come to life; Sally Tuppence, the tart with a heart; and Mr Smug, a chancer who simply cannot believe his luck (or pay cheque).

Why not re-name the shabby affair Britain's Got Talons to recognise the pathetic losers and wannabes desperately clawing their way up the greasy showbiz pole in a fruitless attempt to escape from the well-deserved anonymity from whence they once came - and will certainly return after their 15 minutes are up.

Disclaimer - I have never actually watched a single minute of this monstrosity, but I could not avoid the subliminal message from all forms of media, so feel I have a pretty good idea of how it works. Let me take a wild guess. Many of the acts featured will cover both ends of the age spectrum: from incredibly cute youngsters to very embarrassing grannies. At least once every show an act will reveal a heart-rending history: top marks for a death in the family; a handicap is good; an illness will do. If you don't have such a tortured past, then for god's sake think harder ("Well, Simon, I suppose someone did once look at me funny in the street"). The audience will be stuffed full (quite literally) of hefty imbeciles whooping and a hollering as if this is the best thing they have ever, ever seen, innit.

During the series, there will be many staged ups and downs to keep the show on the front page, e.g. arguments, threatened walk-outs, break-downs. Sally Tuppence has dress malfunction ! Mr Smug caught groping one of the contestants ! Headroom not sure whether Tuppence is up to scratch ! Headroom and Smug punch each others' lights out ! Read. All. About. It.


Of course, the biggest story this year is Susan Boyle, a woman who is not the most handsome, but, and here's the thing, can actually sing ! Who would believe that ? You mean that you can hit a note, even if you don't look like Angelina Jolie ? Strike me down with a feather. Now, in this PC world, you obviously cannot call the tuneful Ms Boyle ugly, but the tabloids have found a neat way around that by labelling her "the hairy angel". They have clearly forgotten one of showbiz's basic rules, namely that if you are famous, then, by definition, you must be gorgeous. This is known in the trade as The Mariah Carey Principle, though some also refer to it as the Celine Dion Paradox.

In fact, Boyle has now become so famous that she has been awarded the ultimate tabloid accolade, not only being refererred to by one word, but the slick joining of her first name and surname, hence SuBo. For crying out loud, have we really become so lazy that we cannot be bother to say both names. This abomination has also been applied to others: LiLo (quite amusing, really); TomKat (the distinctly creepy Tom Cruise and his chattel); Brangelina (strange, why not the pithier BrAn ?).

Other acts on the shows that I have heard of include Stavros Flatley and Diversity. Please tell me that the first is not some Bubble doing the River Dance - there surely has to be more to it than that. I know absolutely nothing about Diversity, except that the name appears to have been dreamt up by Nigel from Brand Consultants Inc and I hate to imagine what they offer.

The real irony is that this is presented as reality television, when it is clearly nothing of the sort. Stage-managed to within an inch of the contestants' miserable lives, it is obvious to a blind man who has lost his dog and had his stick snapped in half that none of these losers has any talent whatsoever beyond further enriching Cowell and his cronies.

As an aside, during this week's The Apprentice, the final five candidates endure a rigorous grilling during the interview process. How rigorous ? Well, one of the contestants (sorry, candidates), Yasmina the "Finance Director", could not explain the difference between gross and net profit, did not know what turnover meant and was outraged that the interview had obtained her accounts, even though these are public documents. Result ? Yasmina is one of the final two. Another example of far-from-reality TV.

Returning to BGT, the joke is that I am old enough to remember shows from the early 70s like Opportunity Knocks and New Faces, which were ridiculed at the time, even when we only had 2-3 TV channels. Now that there is a veritable feast of entertainment offered, the great British public still opts for this end of the pier travesty. Now, it they were voting for end of the Piers, that would be altogether different.

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