In Defence of Britains Got Talent. ( Well not really.)
The cultural phenomenon that is “Britain’s Got Talent” has been back with us for a few weeks, sucking out our brains like some sort of televisual zombie, feasting on our inertia, wallowing in our apathy and as is the way with a Simon Cowell ‘format’ it never makes the mistake of under estimating the great British public’s insatiable appetite for mind numbing shite.
My dislike for ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ and all it stands for is based purely and simply on my pervious, soul shrivelling experiences of all things Cowellian. Robson And Jerome, Zig And Zag, Sinitta, that little prick Louis Walsh, Cheryl Cole . . . need I go on ? His crimes against popular culture are numerous, heinous and unrelenting. Yet incredibly, having studiously avoided “ BGT” for a number of years my view and possibly my brain had started to soften, maybe I’d been a little harsh – after all, it’s just ‘a bit of fun ‘isn’t it ? Maybe it’s improved immeasurably since I was harrowed to the very core of my being by the likes of Susan Boyle and the ‘side splitting’ antics of Stavros Flatley. And so I decided in order to have a valid contemporary opinion I should at least give the show another viewing. To this end I have just spent the last hour on youtube and ITV.com observing people who have at the very least, an inflated sense of their own ability and at worst are seriously mentally ill, but enough about the judges . Of the contestants you can’t help but wish their parents had said ‘ No little Jenny, you do NOT have the voice of Maria Callas, but serving happy meals might be something you’d like to consider as a career option.’ There is certainly a lot to be said for tough love. The so called expert judges including for this series, Britain’s unfunniest (but possibly most annoying man,) Michael McIntyre, perform their scripted roles with the deftness of a charging elephant and effect spontaneity with all the confidence of Jean Claude Van Damme playing Hamlet . But of course that’s not the issue here, this is after all , as people keep telling me ‘just a bit of fun’.
Watching the ‘highlights’ has been a spirit crushing experience and has left me feeling tainted, depressed and lobotomised by the sheer stupidity of this lamentable charade. The on screen ring masters, two gurning vertically challenged, stage school, millionaire Geordie luvvies, giggle, guffaw and simulate conspiratorial ironic exasperation in order to connect with the TV audience at home, a skill which has rather bafflingly seen them regaled as national treasures.
And ‘connect’ is the crucial word here, because for all its faults, it’s unremitting shitness and it’s spirit crushing crassness, ‘Britain’s Got Talent ‘does one thing extremely well. It understands it’s audience and fills the emptiness in their life. Simply put it fills a void with a void. Cowell may not understand what makes a great song, he may not understand the avant garde, he may be terrified of the artist who wants to push boundaries and challenge the status quo, but he understands implicitly how to make money from defending the status quo. Cowell’s skill is turd polishing and presentation, essentially he appropriates various elements from redundant TV formats, the variety show, the talent show, the pantomime and like Dr. Victor Frankenstein re-assembles these parts to create a monster. Not unlike Cheryl Cole, initially it appears to be beautifully constructed, stylish and represent ….. and there’s the rub , and represent what exactly???. Because the truth is “BGT” is the antithesis of talent, it is a vapid , empty sexless piece of contrived propaganda, which assumes the public is a bovine herd made up of fatuous indolent idiots.
It was once said that people knew exactly what they were doing when Martin LutherKing was assassinated or when JFK lost an ill advised game of head tennis with a bullet. They remember the shock when Lennon was murdered and were stopped in their tracks when news that Elvis had ‘left the building’ -permanently. Yet nowadays ‘BGT’ is fawned over by the media and presented as having the same cultural significance as the aforementioned events. And of course we all know exactly where we were , sitting on the fucking couch, gorging on kettle chips, complicit and acquiescent in the dumbing down of ‘event TV.’ You see Cowells leathery withered gonads have ‘tea-bagged’ popular culture and his only contribution to it is to create a generation of couch potatoes who talk with misty eyed reverence about the first time they saw and heard their hairy angel spirit guide, Susan Boyle. And that’s what ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ gives us, something that we all crave as social animals, the collective experience, it’s just a shame it’s such a fucking shit one, the televisual equivalent of holding your lighter aloft at a Chris De Burgh concert whilst shitting into an empty polystyrene fish and chip tray. It’s a parallel universe were bad is good, wrong is right a world were the mundane is GOD, where innovation is crushed, talent is feared and where the banal ultimately triumphs, it IS the lowest common denominator made flesh. To quote Bill Hicks ” They’re so good, and so clean-cut, and they’re such a good image for the children.” Fuck that! When did mediocrity and banality become a good image for your children? I want my children listening to people who fucking rocked!”
People have called me a snob, of being a killjoy, of trying to spoil their fun with some sort of elitist agenda, but the reality is that surely there is nothing more elitist than sitting on your expensive couch with your nice middle class friends sneering and sniggering from your perceived position of superiority as people’s dreams are dismantled by the very rich in the name of cheap nasty entertainment. These ‘tastemakers’ contribute nothing of worth to popular culture, they debase it, using it as a vehicle to promote their own empty ‘brand.’ They take and give NOTHING back. ‘BGT’ is Jerry Springer/Jeremy Kyle style bear baiting with a karaoke machine, jugglers and synchronised dancing.
In essence I was right to despise the crass manipulative nastiness of Britain’s Got Talent, but now after revisiting it , I not only loathe the show , I also pity the eleven million plus who regularly lap up this drivel. ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ is a void inside a vacuum, a hateful hat ful of hollow and Oscar Wilde’s epigram ‘Public opinion exists only where there are no ideas’ could well be the shows tag-line. It is a show made by manipulative lazy cunts to be enjoyed by lazy complicit acquiescent cunts. When popular culture finally draws it’s last breath and all we have left are ‘Syco’ approved power ballads and REO Speedwagon tribute bands what will your excuse be ? .. “I couldn’t be arsed??” – We really do deserve better.