I have always had an uneasy relationship with the show. I liked the straight talking of some of the judges but detested the way the show manipulated my emotions, or tried to. Like the old exam system, there were people that didn’t quite deserve to get there. Wagner and Jedward are just two examples that come to mind. They achieved a lot, while others more deserving failed at an early stage.
Now the new format has decided to use the new approach towards education. First we have the phonics test – the audition with just the judges. That just tests your ability to read, I mean sing. Let’s weed them out at an early stage. Then we have the SATs tests, which, compared to the first audition, is 500% harder. The SATs tests are more demanding and challenging. First it was reading. Now it is reading, writing and grammar. Now, you are in a huge stadium proving you can sing, ooze charisma and handle the pressure. Get through both of these test and you make it to boot camp.
This is where I get uncomfortable. The singers are now categorised according to their age and gender and then they have to perform yet again. This is where we get to the GCSEs. The singers /students now have to sing for their life. At this stage, they have worked so hard and received praise and encouragement by a system that says that they are good. At each hurdle, they have demonstrated their ability. Now, there appears a figure who decides who is worthy and who isn’t worthy of going on in life – I mean the show. Those worthy get to sit on a white plastic chair and those unworthy slouch off home. Yet, to make things even worse, you sit down thinking you have a hope of success, then in a second your hope is dashed because a judge has decided someone is better than you. Those that have worked hard through the system and done everything right are suddenly binned, because this is showbiz, darling. It is tough. Look at the recent GCSE issues, all those students who had worked hard and sat on their white plastic chairs. Those chairs were cruelly yanked out from under them. In fact, the chairs disappeared, as there was nobody to replace them with.
I don’t take any pleasure in watching people cry, nor do I get any enjoyment from watching someone’s hopes and future dashed and destroyed in one simple movement. Having young children, I see enough crying and snot dribbling that I have no desire to watch it for entertainment. The problem I have always had with The X-Factor is the notion that success is instant. This year they seem to have made it their running theme that success is about trying and trying again, and humiliation after humiliation. Look at how many old contestants have returned this year. Of course, they are a bit like an old character in a soap. A blast from the past. But, also they are examples of how success isn’t instant. Bring on the Year 12 students who resit exams.
Next week, or the week after, we are at the judges’ houses. Like A-Level, this is all cosy and nice. Lots of chatting and a relaxed atmosphere. Only a few succeed and get through. The rest are all told that maybe they are just not ready. Give it a go again next year, because then you will be ready for it.
Anyway, back to those chairs. Those vile, evil chairs that represent everything evil in this new format of the show. I am teaching horror writing to my Year 8s at the moment and I think the chairs would make a great starter for a lesson. The approach I use for personification either came from somewhere else or it came from my brain. I will see which one responds first and then I will give them a credit.
Step 1: Think of some verbs that only a human would do.
Step 2: Think of an object.
The lightsThe floor
Step 3: Add some adjectives to the object.
The harsh, cold lightsThe clean floor
The high, towering desk
The warm microphone
The bright projectorThe silent chair
Step 4: Put some of the objects and the verbs together.
The blank and tall speaker sneezes music
The high, towering desk stares
The silent chair smiles
The warm microphone shivers
Step 5: Add a simile at the end
The blank and tall speaker sneezes music like a pneumatic drill
The high, towering desk stares like a courtroom judge
The silent chair smiles like an assassinThe warm microphone shivers like nervous animal
Step 6: Adding just a little more detail
The blank and tall speaker sneezes music like a pneumatic drill, struggling to control itselfThe high, towering desk stares like a courtroom judge, hoping to condemn
The silent chair smiles like an assassin, waiting to get ready.
The warm microphone shivers like nervous animal, wishing it was somewhere else
Thanks for reading this,
P.S. I hear that next year that will be a different style of boot camp. There will be a two tier system. Some will get to sit on chairs; others will sit on beanbags. Those on chairs are promised a number one single. Those on beanbags are promised a chance to sing on a cruise ship.