Monday, April 20, 2009

Britains Got Talent: About a Boyle

From Juliette our guest Blogger

Henry has been having a bloody nightmare with house insurance agencies and underwriters today and so Juliette kindly stepped in.

Have recently, along with the rest of the country, been watching the Susan Boyle clip on YouTube. I'm in two minds about the whole Susan Boyle thing. On one hand, part of me finds it uplifting and heartwarming, because you'd quite simply need a heart of stone not to. Miss Boyle is undeniably a great singer, a lovely lady, and you'd have to walk a very long way to find anyone who deserved a big break more than her.

On other hand, part of me absolutely hated it - and found the judge's amazed reactions as nauseatingly and blatantly ersatz as everything else on the damn show. Of course Simon, Piers and Amanda never had the slightest idea that Susan Boyle could sing. Because random people can just wander onto that stage and go for it, quite unvetted. They don't have to go through about ten rounds of auditions before they ever get near a camera at all.

What an utterly, uttely hateful show this is. Manipulative, callous, contrived, mindless, heartless, soulless and fake fake fake, it leaves me with the worst taste I've had in my mouth since I last ate a Pot Noodle (hey, that Slag of Snacks ad campaign was bloody persuasive.) And my hatred applies just as much to its bastard siblings the X Factor, America's Got Talent and American Idol.

I hate these shows because they blithely and cynically assume that the general public are total and utter fucking idiots.

I hate them even more because - as they've proved time and time again - they're absolutely right.

I've always loathed this particular stable of shows. My hatred goes all the way back to the Pop Idol days. Incidentally, and veering slightly off topic, I remember back in the day, a friend of mine - aware of my kink-tastic sexual predilections - archly referred to the dark, Dom sex apeal of Simon Cowell.

'Now, he's got to be a fantasy figure of yours,' she said. 'Tell me he's not.'

I diplomatically said, 'well actually, not really. I'm not quite sure why.'

What I wanted to say was somewhat harsher.



Jesus Christ. He's camper than Dale Winton, for fuck's sake.

It totally astounds me that so many people don't see this. I've been in endless conversations on this particular subject with Cowell-loving ladies (most of whom are, let us say, unlikely to ever trouble the admissions panel of Mensa.) My opinions on the subject of the great man's sexuality have always been greeted with utter disbelieving contempt, and even mild concerns for my sanity. As if I'm earnestly claiming that Sir Terry Wogan spends his spare time dismembering female hitchhikers.

'But that's ridiculous. Look at all these ex-girlfriends.'

Hmm. Yes. All these 'ex girlfriends' who haven't got a bad word to say about him - and, coincidentally, are still living extremely well on his meal ticket. He's awfully generous to them even when they've split up, but that's not suspicious at all. Because multi-multi-multi millionaires always get that rich by random acts of purest philanthropy. And it's not as though he's paying them to convey any particular impression at all, is he?

'You're so cynical. Look at all the media stories from kiss and tell girls. They've all slept with him, so he's like totally not gay - right?'

Hmmm. Yes. They all say he was a tiger in bed. He was amazing. Demon lover. Five times a night. All man. And I'm sure he's absolutely horrified when those stories come out. They all come as a complete shock to him, even though he's on first-name terms with every red top editor in the country. I'm sure he does absolutely everything in his power to shut them up, and stop them from sharing the embarrasing truth about his stallion-like sexual prowess.

Of course, he never married any of these ladies. And he'll be a bachelor boy until his dying day.

Like that other icon of unambiguous heterosexuality, Sir Cliff Richard.

Seriously, regarding Simon Cowell. If your gaydar is not screaming away like a fire alarm at the sound of that arch, silky-bitchy, gently sibilant voice - a voice veritably designed for bitching about unsatisfactory dirty martinis with a group of other well-coiffed, ankle-crossing gentlemen in a five-star Soho watering hole - well, two options. You either live a very, very sheltered life in which you have never met any gay men (possibly in an Amish community). Or you need to change the battery on your gaydar alarm as a matter of urgency - before you accidentally find yourself married to the next Michael Barrymore.

In addition to believing in Simon Cowell being a heterosexual ladies' man, the utter cockweasels behind the show confidently expect us to believe that Cheryl Cole is as preternaturally sweet and well-meaning as the Good Witch of the West, that Dannii Minogue once had a successful singing career that wasn't entirely dependent on her being Kylie Minogue's sister - and that Piers Morgan is remotely fucking bearable, and doesn't veritably cry out to be battered to death with half a brick.

And the terrifying thing is that the vast majority of viewers actually do believe it. Really, honestly, truly.

Whenever I watch that show, I feel like I'm living in fucking Oceania.

From the inter-judge squabbles, which to anyone with a three-figure IQ are clearly about as real as an early Hulk Hogan fight (if, sadly, without the pleasing spectacle of Piers Morgan being violently smashed over the head with a stepladder) to the early auditions, the whole thing is a cold and cynical exercise in selling sickly old tat to a crowd of gape-jawed cretins. And is chillingly, horrifyingly successful at it. Well, as some Hollywood type astutely pointed out many moons ago, 'nobody ever lost money underestimating public taste.'

Perhaps the most pernicious fiction of all on the show is that Anything Can Happen - that, when Simon Cowell and co are lined up and waiting, the doors are wide open for all and sundry to come in and strut their stuff. What actually happens - as I may have mentioned before - is that nobody goes before the big famous judges on TV without first having gone through several unfilmed auditions before faceless non-celeb judges. So that only the entertaining best and the hilariously pathetic worst get through to the cameras.

But of course, the're not going to say to the hilariously pathetic worst, 'can you come through to the next round, so you can make a complete arse of yourself singing like a tortured cat and get ritually humiliated in front of the whole country? Oh go on. It'll be grand.'

So it stands to reason they tell them they've got through the first auditions, and are in with a chance at the big prize.

Now, I'm normally cynical to the point of utter callousness. But you don't need to be a bleeding-heart, bunny-hugging social worker to see there's something slightly wrong with this picture. A vulnerable and perhaps slightly disturbed plain podgy person ventures into their first unfilmed audition. Disturbed Plain Podgy Person is told - perhaps much to their surprise - they're through to the filmed audition round. Oh, and wear that nice outfit you wore last time round. The gold tinfoil dress with the pink ribbon round the waist.

Are you sure? I thought maybe I looked a bit fat in it.

No, really. The dress looks great. They'll love you. And make sure you sing that song exactly like you did today. You sounded fab.

This is not entertainment, people. This is the prom scene in Carrie.

(I just hope to Christ one of them turns out to be telekinetic one day, and sets Piers Morgan's head on fire. Now that's what I call entertainment.)

Now, with Susan Boyle, everyone's all patting themselves on the back as they wipe an easy, sentimental little tear away. We expected a freak to laugh at, but we got a brilliant singer - and we all hugged her to our bosoms and realised we loved and respected her after all. And she's Beautiful On The Inside And That's What Really Matters. And everyone cried. Aren't we all lovely people for liking her.

As Piers Morgan said, in the heartbreaking-yet-uplifting judges'-verdict conclusion to her truly brilliant performance - 'They were all laughing at you when you came on. Nobody's laughing now.'

But at the same time - and at the risk of spoiling the heartwarming side of the Susan Boyle success story - this cuddly feelgood ending is deliberately avoiding a very, very awkward question indeed.

What if Susan Boyle couldn't sing for toffee??

Answer - the lovely crowd and supportive people would have been about as lovely and supportive as the baying mob at a medieval witch-burning. Susan Boyle's inner beauty would have mattered about as much to the assembled crowds as her thoughts and feelings. All the nice sentimental people back home would have pointed and sniggered at the sad fat old munter with the funny eyebrows - and would have found it absolutely hilarious as wise kindly Simon Cowell pulled one of his trademark pained faces mid-verse. And Piers Morgan would have summed it all up at the end, in a heartbreaking-yet-uplifting conclusion...

'They were all laughing at you when you came on. And they're still laughing at you now. Fuck off back to Pebbles the cat.'

Exit, pursued by a bare-faced hypocrisy...

J x
Posted by juliette at 4:18 AM


  1. Ahem, you did rather answer your own question there. If she couldn't sing then she wouldn't have been on the show...or am I missing something?

  2. Hey, Cato - if she couldn't sing, she certainly WOULD have been on the show - but solely for the purposes of mockery and ridicule!! I'm just pointing out that the warm hearted, sweet natured, genuine-plain-but-decent-person-embracing side of Britain's Got Talent is incredibly shallow and hypocritical - like the Roman mob thinking they're kind and lovely people because they just spared their favourite gladiator (after cheering at the gruesome deaths of several hundred Christians and one particularly wussy lion..)

    J x

  3. Your guest writers are great!