Guest blog post from “abandon culture” re: TV talent shows

The comment on one of my posts packed such a punch I decided to put it centre-stage by reposting it…

In response to “Who are you kidding? Let’s get real about talent” written on 8 May, this explosive piece was posted by http://abandonculture.wordpress.com/

BGT, X-Factor et al are not really concerned with discovering or nurturing talent at all.

They are concerned with selling ‘entertainment’.

A mediocre singer is not quite entertaining enough, but they are easier to find and then shackle with exploitative contracts (after all they haven’t even ‘made it’ yet so they’ve nothing to bargain with). To make up for their lack of entertainment (due to lack of talent) we all get to judge their performance as well as their real life personas by having the element of competition introduced and all the backstage bits and contextual stuff (their life stories etc).

This is win-win for the likes of Cowell etc who get to sell us the laborious talent scout part of their business as entertainment, use the whole voting thing as a giant national focus group (to help them choose the right product to sell back to us!) and then crank out a couple of Xmas number ones and an album or two based on the hype they have generated through us – and having already signed the act with a rubbish contract.

Ka – Ching! It’s all quite evil when you break it all down!

But this talent show culture does even more than that. It changes the population’s attitudes towards art, entertainment and culture generally. True talent becomes less the focus of our attention and is replaced by competitiveness in terms of pleasing the judges and the audience. Pleasing judges is not quite the same thing as striving to be a great artist.

And as we see more and more mediocre artists achieving massive (if fleeting) fame and success we are programmed to see the **recognized artist – fame and success** relationship the wrong way around.

In this post talent show age we see that one becomes a recognized artist by becoming famous and successful first. And one becomes famous by successful by ‘pleasing the judges’ whether literally on a talent show or simply by following and copying whatever trends are set by the entertainment industry itself.

In other words many aspiring artists don’t know what they want to ‘be’ other than ‘famous’. And they possibly have no conception of their actual talent (or lack of it). All they know is that they want to sign on the dotted line… and will do *anything* to have a chance to ‘make it’.

This all suits the INDUSTRY down to the ground because it reduces everyone to wannabe sell outs (AKA fame monsters) and elevates the industry itself to the status of gatekeepers. They can now truly start to define what culture is. They can cheapen it yet still maintain their effective monopoly over it and by choosing from the vast array of fame hungry wannabe’s desperate to ‘make it’ and signing them into contracts where the industry has total control. Many contracts these days will have the ‘artist’ sign away all control to the corporate labels for appearance, interviews, songwriting, clothes, videos (storyboard), stage sets, songwriting, lyrics, choreography – everything!

Many artists these days are little more than corporate brand logos. Everything else is taken care of by corporate controlled experts (designers, stylists, songwriters, producers etc).

By cheapening art (and reducing the population’s expectations of it) they can reduce devalue the worth of the artist and so reduce their power to call the shots, dictate their contracts, do and say what they want and so on.

This is why we have a popular culture full of rebellious, outrageous and shocking music artists……. who are actually (when you think about it) totally conformist to corporate ideology of their employers. Most are are conformist contractually! And most never had anything to say anyway (they just wanted to be ‘famous’).

Pop music and Hollywood movies is now totally controlled in this way, and the control is moving up the arts into more elitist, high brow art forms. Opera, dance, theatre, classical are all being chipped away at….

Everyone is familiar with the concept of modifying a product or brand to appeal to the consumer…. few have realized that entertainment corporations have been busy for the last 50 years modifying the consumer (ie redefining our culture!!!) to best fit their increasingly crappy entertainment products.

There is no such thing as ‘just’ entertainment. There is always a deeper message, and a sophisticated agenda present – even in the most shallow forms of so called entertainment.

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