Talent Shows – Exam Answer

Here is the exam question from the last paper that when I saw it, I nearly had heart failure in gleeful surprise.

‘Talent shows like The X Factor provide cheap television, gossip and nothing of any value. There are better programmes than these.’ Argue for or against the views expressed in this quotation. Your piece will appear on the entertainment pages of a website.

What follows is how I would have written it, given half the chance to show off and have some fun!

[To be read in a farmyard, yokel voice]

“Oim a farmer from Summerset, me, a rough, tough, lathered aul’d soul who has never seen a television, let alone seen what is on the thoing, so why should I care?”

Right, now that I have got your attention, let me tell you a few things about these so called ‘talent shows.’

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a man who watched these television shows and loved them. He loved the way that the likes of men called Cowell could act up to the first three letters of their surname and be bullish in their comments to people, who frankly, should have known better than apply to go on the show in the first place. There they were, those ‘Judges,’ sat in their fancy chairs, pontificating over the likes of you and I and making us look ludicrous and the likes of you and I lapped it up. To us, it was entertainment in a life that possibly had little entertainment in it.

But then, after three or four years, these shows like the X Factor and now, with the advent of the BBC show called The Voice, a play on words on the fame of Sir Tom Jones, who can sing, we see the same thing beginning to happen. We see how the originality of the show has gone, leaving with it the sense that next year it will be the same thing all over again. It is this that sticks in my craw. It is this that makes me want to head for the remote button, or in my case, disconnect from mainstream television until the BBC and ITV decide to put something worthwhile on.

I mean, come on folks, The Voice and The X Factor – television for those needing to be drugged out of their already dreary existence? What are we watching these shows for if not to make fun of others or to wish that we had, as Andy Warhol once suggested, our fifteen minutes of fame? Are you watching because you actually want to? If so, you must lead a very dreary life.

Once, I loved these shows, but it is now becoming a case of “the same old same old” each week; Will.i.am paying up to the camera, a new female coach bringing a bit of glitz into proceedings and a group of contestants that frankly, look like they came out of the Dark Ages in places. And we call this entertainment? We have missed the point at some point in our lives I think.

Your commenter stated that “talent shows like The X Factor provide cheap television.” Oh how this is correct. There is little or no value to these shows, just the hope that they bring to a sad, deluded world. Then your commenter said there is nothing but “gossip and nothing of any value.” I have to agree here for as suggested, “there are better programmes than these.”

Once we get past the initial value of seeing someone embarrassed in front of six million viewers, we then see the need to do one thing; switch off. Only then will we begin to grab back some semblance of normality to our weekend viewing, which at one time not a few years ago, was sparkling and excellent, but now, all we see are so called talent shows led by talentless individuals [apart from Sir Tom, who rocks at 74 years of age].

Come on British viewing public, get your finger out and hit that red button!