Have TV talent shows made us evil?

Have TV talent shows made us evil?



“She sounds retarded”; “Can she please go die so we don’t have to hear her annoying voice again – stupid bitch”; “Go get some talent””¦ just a choice selection from some of the comments left on YouTube in the past 24 hours about US teenager Rebecca Black and her song ”˜Friday’.  Is this what a decade of watching the likes of ”˜Pop Idol’ and ”˜X Factor’ has led us to? Are we now an army of Simon Cowell clones ”“ sat back, arms folded, waiting to push our metaphorical red buttons? Since when did it become acceptable to imply a 13-year-old schoolgirl is a talentless, vacuous non-entity with learning disabilities? Why did we get so mean-spirited and offensive?

Rebecca Black’s mother paid $2,000 to Ark Music for a package that included a choice between two pre-written songs. She says she chose ”˜Friday’ because “the other song was about adult love ”“ I haven’t experienced that.”Good on you Rebecca! What would we rather she was singing about – ”˜Doin’ It Like A Dude’ – Jessie J style? For once, what we have here is a fully-clothed young girl singing an innocent song about having fun with her friends. And, without wanting to sound like a Daily Mail reader, I applaud that. Does she really deserve close to one million ”˜dislikes’ on YouTube? To be rolled out by ”˜Good Morning America’ to discuss ”˜the worst video in the world’?

I doubt many of her ”˜haters’ would slag this girl off to her face. Sitting behind a Smartphone or a laptop and doing it is just as bad. For the record I don’t think this a particularly good song or a great video and I’m not saying we have to pretend it is. As adults we shouldn’t applaud every naff little thing a kid does or shield them from criticism. Part of life is learning that we are not all blessed with genius and someone somewhere will dislike what you say and do.

I certainly believe that adult artists who ask us to pay for their music, films, literary works and other such artistic endeavours are fair game when it comes to criticism ”“ constructive or otherwise. But it’s how we criticise that defines us as people. If we’re being truly cruel, such as making spiteful comments about learning disabilities for example, then that’s a really sad state of affairs – even more so when we’re directing those comments at impressionable teenagers. Tonight my 13-year-old nephew will play drums in his band ”˜Carnage’ in the semi-finals of a local talent contest. We, his biased family, think he’s pretty darn talented (as I’m sure Rebecca’s family thinks she is too).

If he doesn’t make it through to the finals and he’s fairly beaten then, as disappointed as I’m sure we’ll be, we will of course have to accept that. But the thought that someone could record the show and post it online ”“ leaving my nephew open to comment from the 52 million who queued up to slag Rebecca Black off – fills me with horror. Because let’s face it, in the age of social networking, Rebecca’s fate could happen to any child.



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