Sunday, March 15, 2015

So, the X Factor

ETA: Natalia Kills and Willy Moon fired: I don't blog about TV shows, but I have Thoughts and Feelings and so I've decided to share them.

By now, it feels like the whole world knows what happened on X Factor NZ last night. In case you  missed it, this happened:

Stuff story:

With reality shows - especially talent shows - I feel like we all enter into the same, unspoken social contract: we all know that there is going to be manufactured drama, that the producers/judges are going to push for preferred contestants.

They know that we know, and we know that they know we know, and generally speaking, if reality talent shows are your thing, everyone is happy.

However. That. That is not what happened here. Not remotely.

Joe Irvine performed Cry Me a River, a cover of a Michael Buble song; a singer who has made his career work by moving into the Rat Pack's wheelhouse and settling in. It was a good choice for, in my opinion, one of the less-strong singers on the show.

Joe's judge/mentor Mel Blatt obviously worked hard with him, as did the show's stylist, and Joe looked and sounded the best he has so far. (Once again, in my opinion.)

"Constructive" criticism on a reality show like the X Factor can take many forms - it can actually be constructive; a judge can say, for example, that they thought a song was wrong for a particular contestant; or they can hone in on pitch, or stage presence - any number of things.

If the judge in question is cast as the "asshole" judge, or as I like to call it, the Simon Cowell - then they can dig deeper and present opinions that go against both public opinion and that of their fellow judges.

And that's fine. That's part of the contract we all enter into. We know that's coming. We expect it; we anticipate it. Someone has to be the villain.

However. There is a difference between being cast as Simon Cowell and offering up unpopular opinions and so-called constructive criticism and personal attacks.

Joe Irvine sang fine. He looked great. He could have expected a round of "well done's" with perhaps some suggestions for improvements. Instead, what he got was a vitriolic personal attack out of nowhere, and a stack of unwanted drama.

By all means, TV3, manufacture drama to boost ratings. That's fine. We know you're going to do that. But what happened last night is not fine. It's not even in the same neighbourhood as fine. It's not fit to shine the bottom of fine's shoes.

It was a vile display of bullying, and wherever it came from, whether Natalia herself, or from a producer tipping her to amp the drama somehow, it should never have happened.

Surely we are all civilised enough to understand that it's not okay to let loose on someone like that? Critique the performance. Hell, critique his outfit, even though it fit perfectly with the theme of the song. But accusing Joe of "copying" Willy Moon? Because ... Joe is tall and he wore a suit? Not to mention Willy Moon weighing in and basically calling Joe a serial killer.

I'm trying to rise above, and not get personal but let me tell you, if I had to walk home alone on a dark night for whatever reason and I could choose between Joe or Willy to get me home safely ... well, let me just say I'm not crossing the road with Willy Moon.

I keep asking myself what should happen now. I see chatter all over twitter and facebook and comments on stories that Natalia Kills and Willy Moon should be fired. And, yes, probably. What they did - what they chose to engage in on live television was nowhere near any kind of criticism. Instead, they chose the route of schoolyard bullying, picking on the most vulnerable character on the show.

We've all seen Joe cry it out after Bo-Rap, and at boot camp. We shared in his absolute delight in getting to go to Thailand, and to making it to the live shows.

And now. Joe's delight and joy is marred by a vicious, vicious attack out of nowhere. Natalia and Willy might as well have charged the stage and kicked Joe in the shins.

At the very least  - AT THE VERY LEAST - TV3 needs to make them both apologise - publically, and profusely.  A few weak tweets that TV3 doesn't condone bullying is not going to slice the chicken here.

Actually, they should apologise, and then withdraw. And I do understand that it's hard finding judges for a show like X Factor, and a shake-up like that would hurt their contestants, but honestly, their contestants are going to suffer the backlash from this anyway. Someone - likely from Natalia's team - is going to go home tonight, whether their performance warranted it or not.

Ginny Blackmore put her hand up on twitter. There's a decent replacement for Natalia.

As for Willy Moon .... well, Benny Tipene is around. There's a narrative that you could spin pretty easily, given Benny was the runner-up on X Factor last time. Or how about Neil Finn? He wouldn't do it, I don't think, but Neil Finn interacting with Brendon Thomas and the Vibes would be TV gold.

The golden rule, for me, is don't be a dick.

Why is that so difficult for some people to grasp?

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