I’ve not seen one episode of the X-Factor until tonight.
I only watch about 2 hours of TV per week during the semester so during the winter break I try to relax while watching a few select shows. I was a speech, drama and debate teacher for eight years so I really love talent shows. They remind me of auditions for our Spring Musicals, only on a massively grandiose and incredibly bankrolled scale.
Thus, I tuned into the X-Factor Finale show. As the show progressed I grew incredibly uncomfortable. And, exponentially even more uncomfortable as hour number two of the show rolled around. Here are my complaints in order as the show progressed:
1. 50 Cent, Astro (evidently from the X-Factor talent pool) and the LA Lakers led a musical rap-type number that was backed up by dancers whose costumes looked like Playboy Bunnies without the ears and tails. The choreography for the women was overly seductive, including women helping women out of bathtubs, gyrating against a grand piano, bending over with their buttocks in seductive positions and gyrating against, and toward, the singers on stage. (The photo above was captured off a screen shot from a hand-held video uploaded on YouTube. It’s rough, but it demonstrates a bit of the point I’m making.)
One word: ick. The number was sexist, revolting and was played out like a bedroom fantasy in front of America’s families. The women were portrayed as hyper-sexualized while the men were held up as nothing more than the lead stallions of their own private herd of fillies. Sickening…on so many levels. Perhaps the lowest point for me however, was when the young male “Astro” was highlighted in a metaphorical anointing from 50 Cent. The meaning was clear: “Here boy, this will all be yours now. Learn well, and do me proud.”
2 & 3. More of number 1…in two other places: A) A woman played in the snow, encased in a giant snow globe, as one of the final contenders sang; and, B) Another number similar to what was described in my first point performed by Bulldog and Ne-Yo. And yes, they were backed up by more women with beautiful bodies, dancing in just-barely-less-seductive dances than the first number.
But then…they all took their jackets off for the second half, and their black-laced, see through body suits gave exactly the same message. More of the same, with the 50 Cent and the Bulldog led numbers taking up at least 15 minutes of the show total. Was the message clear? Absolutely. Was it received by millions of young girls and boys across the U.S. and possibly the world? Probably. And I’m just so incredibly sad about that.
4. A short commercial highlighting a Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah shocked me. Queen Latifah looked as radiant and strong as usual, but I got two quick glimpses of Dolly’s face…and I must say, I can hardly recognize the highly awarded County and Western Star. Dolly has had so many facial procedures that she looks like a caricature of her former self. Everything that is wrong about cosmetic procedures was evident – the “wolf” grin (widened mouth due to face lifts), “fish lips” due to collagen injections, and unfortunately, jokes interjected into the script to make up for the problem. You know when the writers have no choice but to say out loud what the audience thinks that things are bad.
Dolly – I love your voice, I love your spirit, and I sorely miss whatever face you would have naturally progressed toward by this time. RIP sweet Dolly aged face. Wish I could have known ya.
5. Finally, the finish of the show. This gets me every time when it comes to American Idol. The problem with the X-Factor is, however, that the ante was ramped up five-fold. A FIVE MILLION dollar contract is awarded to the winner who clearly was emotionally undone by the announcement. As was her family and friends in the audience who rushed the stage. As was the normally cool Simon Cowell. No one was in control of their faculties and that’s perfectly normal. Yet, the announcer (I’m assuming he was told through the bug in his ear to walk stage right so the camera could follow him while they busted the party up, shoved a microphone in the winner’s hand and told her, “Your contact states you have to sing. So, good luck…”) was trying his best to plug through what was the most unnatural thing on earth at that point. He actually said to the winner, “You know you’ve got to sing, right?”
And so…she tried, she sang half the words, and somehow made it through the end of the show while the credits rolled. But I hated it. It was ridiculous, overinflated with the finale music and shots of everyone involved, and right in the middle was a young girl trying to grapple with the fact that maybe her life has changed in a radical way.
Ick and yuck.
So, to sum up this rant-of-a-post, I’ll just say this:
Simon Cowell, I respect your judgement when it comes to identifying and highlighting talent. I completely disrespect your ability to make strong judgement calls about where the line is when it comes to family entertainment. And, to whomever the production group was…you pulled a power play on that girl and it wasn’t right. Maybe it was in the contract to have her sing, but she’s a human. And so are you. So please, clean up the harm you’re causing on multiple levels. Or, quit producing your show. You’ve lost me as a viewer. But more than that, you’ve disheartened me as a music lover. Right now, all I can feel is disgust and disdain at what I saw tonight. I really, really hated it.
Find me at the Red Dirt Chronicles…
Best, Red Dirt Kelly