The Tyranny of X Factor

X-Factor is not entertainment, it's Jeremy Kyle with a backing track. The most worrying thing is, the nation can't get enough of it.
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X-Factor is not entertainment, it's Jeremy Kyle with a backing track. The most worrying thing is, the nation can't get enough of it.

As I watched the latest X Factor episode, anger and frustration gradually gave way to a sombre, resigned acceptance. It was like experiencing a slow, painful death.

What gets me is how the docile masses continue to lap this contrived, manipulated shit up. It follows the exact same template week in, week out yet no one bats an eyelid.

The show went beyond the boundaries of taste and decency long ago. In the past we have had a finalist sing about his recently-deceased wife, but the way it revels in wheeling out hopelessly deluded wannabes to be ridiculed reached a new nadir last Saturday.

Abby and Lisa, a tuneless trailer trash duo you could see coming a mile off, got into a spat with a judge before one girl threw a punch at the other. 'Roll up, roll up. Come laugh at the freaks.'

This is not entertainment. This is The Jeremy Kyle Show with a backing track, and for Cowell and his cronies to make out they actually care as this pre-scripted, nonsense plays out is beyond contempt.

Cowell’s uncanny ability to spin it all out as authentic, and real, makes me think he is wasted on entertainment. Kim Jong-il could learn a thing or two from him about how to control a population through propaganda.

It's been reassuring in some small way to hear certain musicians express their disapproval, like Lily Allen. Her tweets recently criticised the show for being too scripted and Cowell being the only beneficiary.

'It's everything that I detest about modern western culture… I'd rather actually eat my own crap, than sit next to any of those goons… I've better things to do with my time than feed the nation with the notion that doing cover versions will sort your life out.'

Regardless of Lily's tweets, the autotune controversy, and this little diatribe of mine, the show will juggernaut along its merry way, continuing to rake in enormous viewing figures. Cowell is like the house in casinos – he always wins.

"This is not entertainment. This is The Jeremy Kyle Show with a backing track."

My personal disgust commences pretty much from the moment Cowell rocks up in his chauffeur-driven cunt-mobile to the latest audition, and waves to the adoring fans as if he is some kind of modern day Pope. It's like a weird cult as members of the public perform those horrifically retarded, crossed arm, X Factor insignia signs on cue. I'm already seething and the auditions haven't even started yet.

If there's one thing we've learnt about X Factor over the years, it's that it loves the Chumbawamba contestant – the one who has previously got knocked down but has got up again to give the audition process another go – and it milks these returnees for all they are worth. This week it was Liam Payne; the week before, Annastasia Baker.

'Take your shoes off. I want you to be you,' Cowell tells Annastasia, trying to be heart-felt but sounding like David Brent.

Cowell’s incessant earnestness has become so laughable it's a wonder he can keep a straight face.

'I always tell my kids never to give up on their dream,' she says.

Such music luminaries as Geri Halliwell nod their sincere approval.

'It's took a lot of courage for yous to come back on the show and try again,' says X Factor's Geordie princess, eyes glistening.

'More eye drops for Cheryl,' I imagine the producers screaming.

The manufactured emotion is relentless.

If this isn't bad enough, worse is to come in the form of The Reason. If there's a more nauseating sight on tv than a ball-achingly bland boy band sporting tattoos, vest tops, ear-rings, fake tan, and spiky hair, telling the audience they hope to sell more records than Take That, I'm yet to see it.

Before a single note is struck I know, without question, that The Reason are going to be intolerably shit. They sing 'Fight For Your Lives' acappella, each of them holding out a single hand and screwing up their faces to emote in that forced, X Factor way, trying, and failing, to lend extra gravitas to their tortuously lame, Barber shop harmonising.

They are so anodyne and homogenized they make Westlife sound like ground-breaking rock Gods. They'll probably win the whole thing. Naturally, the eejits in the crowd cheer and applaud wildly like they've just heard The Beatles' first audition.

As a musical act, The Reason ironically have no reason whatsoever but in X Factor world this matters not a jot as Cowell, the self-appointed arbiter of what constitutes good music (Power Rangers, Robson & Jerome, Il Divo, anyone?) rocks back in his chair, and has the staggering gall to state, without a hint of sarcasm, 'One of my favourite groups this year.'

'Shine' by Take That plays in the background after unanimous 'yeses'. This is the X Factor money shot, cranking up the feel good emotion to the max, this viewer rousing moment strangely having the converse effect on me as I am left shouting, 'Fuck off you shite music-endorsing, botox-injected, laser-whitened, lying, bullshitting bunch of motherfucking bastard cunts' loudly at the telly.

In previous series we've had pretend stories to ramp up the press coverage about Louis Walsh leaving the show. This year it's been all about Cheryl Cole contracting malaria – even though she probably only had a heavy head cold – and the groups wrecking Cowell's Mediterranean bolt-hole. If nothing else I really hope at least one of them found time to shit in his bed.

These days, Cowell is so caught up in his own omnipotence the egotistical wanker gets contestants to literally beg him for a shot at fame. He also has the temerity to get guest judges to tell everyone how great X Factor is. 'I am really privileged to be part of this great show.' says Katy Perry reading from her script before getting her fee.

And no doubt we'll see Cheryl singing again during the series when she has a single to plug, and Louis's boys Westlife will have their 'week', and as sure as eggs are eggs, Cowell will use it as a platform to flog his entire back catalogue of musical excrement along the way.

"These days, Cowell is so caught up in his own omnipotence the egotistical wanker gets contestants to literally beg him for a shot at fame."

So we'll have Joe McElderry and Alex Burke and Leona Lewis and JLS performing on the live shows and Cowell telling everyone, 'That, on any scale, was world class.' just ahead of their next release. And, fuck it, this is money for old rope and I could do with another yacht, so let's have Same Difference and Rhydian back on again for good measure and I'll tell viewers how great they are too.

Look, let's end the debate once and for all. X Factor is nothing more than a textbook lesson in how to brainwash the masses through emotional glove puppetry. It is a tasteless, exploitative, intelligence insulting marketing exercise, and to submit to it is to allow yourself to be intellectually raped.

While Cowell loves to portray himself as a man of the people, the reality is, it is those same people he is flagrantly ripping off. This is the greatest tyranny of X Factor – that the fortunes it earns in revenue are largely fleeced from those who are incapable of realising they are being sold a crock of shit.

They’re the ones who keep the whole nefarious reality machine ticking over, by ringing up to vote at one pound per call, unless ringing from a mobile phone in which case it’ll cost considerably more.

This year, the cover versions sung by the fame-craving flotsam will be available for download so the music chart from October until Christmas will be dominated by X Factor rip offs. In previous years we’ve had Leona Lewis singing a cover of a Snow Patrol record. The great unwashed listen in awe and probably think she wrote it. Ditto Alex Burke singing Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’.

The abuse and thievery of other people’s art is grotesque, and quite how Cowell gets away with it, I’m still not sure. Like everything on the show it is utterly shameless, and entirely self-serving.

They say societies get the governments they deserve. The truth is, we get the reality shows we deserve too and X Factor reiterates why the world is just plain wrong.

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