Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Why would anyone want to watch the X Factor? Why I got hooked, but I aint gonna watch again, right, that was a one off, I can stop, I swear, I hope...

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I may have accidently watched the X Factor - and just to have a real old junk tv blow out - Strictly Come Dancing this Sunday evening. I wanted to watch the Antiques Roadshow but it didn't seem to be on. I had a lot of personal issues that only a good dose of antiques judging would cure. Sadly, I'd missed it. One Man & His Dog wasn't on either. Neither was Last Of The Summer Wine. Nothing vaguely old fashioned or sedate. So I ended up watching TXF & SCD.

I think both programmes have been on for a while now. Possibly years. I am pretty sure about that. Mylene Klass was born on one of these shows. *Strictly Give Birth*. Something like that.

It's weird when you're out of the loop. I feel like a country bumpkin that has just come to the big city and can't believe his eyes. "Sure don't all these ladies look pretty in their itsy bitsy dresses. Wowsy o wowsy!" Random ideas occur. Visual images are printed into my brian (my brain is a bit weirded out - and has become a brian). Thus:
  • Strictly Come - the ladies' dresses - it's an old point but when did spangly bikinis become acceptable evening wear? I, personally, have no problem with this, but would love to see the *boys* like the man from that soap/the sporty man/Gary Rhodes etc wearing equivalent wear. How can it not be sexist if the chaps are not wearing glittery posing pouches? Get John Sergeant (looking happy below right) into a spangly vest and short-shorts or I won't be watching again. (On second thoughts ... ah ha ah ha a ho ho...)
  • The reason people watch these shows is so they can talk. And have something to talk about other than ... whatever it is people are supposed to talk about. Feelings, events in their lives or the wider world, philosophy? The shows provide communal viewing. It's like sport for girls. Or buying shoes for girls. Lots of opinions, tutting, swooning, sensible and insane comments. Swearing at the tv. Laughter. Communal viewing. You turn it on and start to chat. Mainly start to slag people off and judge them, but also give *credit where its due*. If someone can dance around without falling over or warble like a low-rent Xtina then we will collectively support them. Also if they can arrange for a death in the family or if they have a stammer or a wooden leg, we will also like them for that. So watching it on your own is a little odd. You WILL end up saying things out loud and talking to your pet goldfish. "Did you see that? You could dance better than that and you have neither legs nor lungs!"
  • The normal rules don't apply if the contestants are *cute*. Or just 14 years old. Or used to be famous on a soap. Or are ridiculously inept. Then we'll still like them. Us Mob viewers can empathise (and laugh at) people who are stultifyingly shit at dancing and singing. Cos we are as well.
  • You can also compete & bet with your co-viewers on who is going to win/get voted out. "I tell you, yous fish have no idea. No way will Rachel Stevens win. Look at Big Brother, the more glamourous ladies always get voted out. No, she does not look fish-like. That is just not fair."
  • X Factor = sociology. The psycho-social portrait of a group of people (most of whom seem to work in admin or customer services - why does no one have a trade? No doctors or plumbers?) who are OBSESSED by wanting to become a famous singery person. I guess when you have such a shit job (I should know) you want to believe that you won't still be doing it when you're 41 (but you will be. Or else the world will have plunged into a post-financial crisis sort of Mad Max pit of despair. "Hello, Thunderdome Telecom, how may I direct your call? It's a Mister Belezebub, is it? And you'd like to complain about the plague of locusts you're currently experiencing? I'll just put you on hold, one moment..." Which would at least be a mild improvement on working in a regular BT Call Centre). But I mean, PEOPLE! What is wrong with Lottery Scratchcards as a valid means of escape from the drudgery of your existence???? OR believing in Revolutionary Socialism? Financial crisis going on, surely the time is right to seize the means of production? No? Except when you work in a call centre, what is the means of production? Would we have to seize our telephones? Would the calls just be re-routed to India? Hmm. Flaws in this plan.
  • The contestants get VERY OVER-excited. When did this screamy, rolling on the floor thing start happening? Without people staring at you bog-eyed like you're insane. If the job agency tell me I have an extra week working in the brewery, I do not scream. I say cheers and put the phone down. But not here, oh no.
  • More pauses than a Harold Pinter Play. "I'm sorry to tell you... " Pause for a ridiculous amount of time. Camera gadding about. Taking in the tearful faces. Building up tension so that they think they're getting booted off... "You're through to the next round." Wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaggggggghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!
Watch this: then make sure the sound isn't turned up too much around the 1.20 mark. It's like Beatlemania - only they're their own heroes...

  • When did it become acceptable to scream and jump & generally act like you're having an epileptic fit when someone tells you you're into the last 64 in a competition where only 1 can win? Shouldn't you be *quietly pleased*? No? It's the girls mainly. And it is quite frightening especially when they charge at the camera and squeal and wail. Like we would expect if watching a documentary about a primative culture. Like in an American Baptist Church when they're speaking in tongues. Or in some Amazonian Indian tribe when they're communing with their gods. The *Through-to-the-next-round* contestants really let go. Primal Scream therapy style. Like Bobby Gillespie on crack. Like toddlers who've eaten a sweetshop full of E number filled sweets. You almost want Michael Winner to taken on the Dermot O'Leary role: "Relax, my dear, it's only a talent show. And in truth you're not actually that good. You'll be crying next week. And then you'll be going back to your Admin Assistant job." It is emotional pornography. We get to watch people on the verge of suicide or collapsed in a giggle of happy tears. How often do people wet and/or shit themselves - before they go on/while they're on/after they've been on and when they hear the news? Quite often I'd think. Personally I'd like to see someone projectile vomit over Louis Walsh when they hear the verdict. It seems a fair response, I'd say.
  • Every week there is a penalty shoot out at the end. And it is expertly handled. Whilst I don't really care about anyone (in the world or on these shows) the tension is exquisite. As a viewer you get a real brain rush. Every decision on the X Factor is preceded by a pause of 30 seconds. And then a decisive decision. Even Dannii Minogue acts like a little God. Like the 4 judges are the colonial masters of this idiot country called X Factorland. Dance for me peasants! Sing! Entertain me or die! Personally, I'm all in favour if S&M television so I think it's fine.
  • TXF is for kids really, isn't it? Pretty boys, pretty girls. The occasional OddBod who will get knocked out soon. And some weirdly facially configured older people who would be better off working as celebrity impersonators if they could find someone they looked like.
  • Why do the minor celebs on Strictly actually bother? Can't they do panto in Carshalton? This dancing lark seems like a lot of hard work. Though in truth this is a show where hard work is rewarded. TXF is all about inate talent and "bringing that out" going on a journey somewhere with your talent. To the Post Office and back, perhaps. On Strictly, cos people are half famous already, it seems acceptable if they're shit at the beginning. It almost seems like they're cheating if they're all ready half decent at hoofing about. They've been practising the fuckers! Kick em out!
  • The winners will be: Cheri Lunghi (SCD) & a blonde girl (XF). Or a half-bearded boychild (XF).
Actually, Strictly did get boring. There's too much of "Let's watch the experts." No. Let's watch people who are rubbish at it, it's more fun. Obviously this blog serves no purpose, but anyone foolish enough to read about these shows knows that they deserve no better. They are designed for communal appreciation/approbation and I am merely filling the well of opinion with my half-baked half-thoughts. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, So It Goes...

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