Is it just us or is anyone else getting fed up to the back teeth with reality TV? The gaudy production values, the expensive telephone voting lines, Louis Walsh and well, the sheer repetition of it all? For years now we’ve watched countless numbers of desperate hopefuls line up across the land in a bid to just be known. To paraphrase Eminem ‘you’ve only got one shot… opportunity comes once in a lifetime’ etc. Well, that might apply if you’re in a rough 8 Mile neighbourhood fearing for your safety – but back in Blighty there’s always another application form to fill in next year.
But don’t let us fool you into thinking we haven’t in some way or other been seduced by the murky realms of reality TV. One of our Filskit ladies made it through several rounds of ‘How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria’ before not making the cut – she’s still too traumatised to talk about that particular time. More recently, a close friend auditioned for the coveted role of Jesus in this year’s Jesus Christ Superstar before realising he wasn’t what the production team had in mind. But if Lyn Gardner’s review from The Guardian is anything to go by, he had a lucky escape!
This is the somewhat sticky area where highly commercialised television shows blend with stage productions – doesn’t it make a mockery of the audition and training process? Of course auditions are gruelling, but televising it to the nation with voting lines turns it into a glorified popularity contest. They want a face that fits, a personality that works on camera, tears and someone who’ll capture the hearts of the audience at home. But surely acting for TV and acting for stage are two rather different ball games?
We at Filskit don’t profess to be able act for camera, in the same way that a film star might not cut the mustard treading the boards. But sadly, this type of television format is an attempt at bringing theatre to the masses. So far, as a result of this format, we’ve had revivals of The Sound of Music, Joseph and The Wizard of Oz. Is it positive enough to say that our telly addiction is driving people to the theatres? Or is this yet another example of how the ‘fast-track fame’ culture is still rife in today’s society?
For a decade we endured Davina McCall hyperventilating with excitement on the increasingly barmy Big Brother. How did that happen? And more importantly, why is it still being commissioned? Perhaps we are just voyeuristic creatures with far too much time on our hands! Isn’t that clear from all the magazines and trashy newspapers (we’re sternly eyeballing you Daily Mail Online) who are essentially responding – and continuously feeding – current demand?
It’s as if there’s a crippling belief that we are entitled to our 15 minutes of fame and if we’re not achieving that we are essentially nobodies. This can be the only explanation for the desperation seen on these TV shows such as The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent. This surely can’t be a healthy message for children who witness the fame machine in motion year after year. They see the glamour, rewards and adoration of the victors and it looks obtainable. They don’t see the heartbreak and the mental strain once the cameras stop rolling; such is the contrived nature of these shows. Dangerous territory indeed.
But the cracks are beginning to show. The formatting, the editing and the cruel ridiculing in front of the nation are all becoming tired and predictable. We know to expect the sob stories and the rousing music – we know if they film scenes at people’s houses/schools/with adorable children, they will be going through to the next round. Anyone else tired of having their emotions so regimentally manufactured in the name of entertainment? So perhaps we need to get over his notion of flash in the pan fame.
Surely the reality is that not everyone is destined to be a star. As much as we all would love to be recognised in our field of speciality, it doesn’t mean that you need to have this confirmed by ‘Lord Almighty’ Simon Cowell or (a real Lord) Andrew Lloyd Webber, in front of the cameras. These shows may offer a fast track to success but sometimes you just have to put the work in. In the meantime, we’ll just have to see what pearls of wisdom Tulisa from N-Dubz has to offer more emotionally strained wannabes. We might just read a good book instead.