Monday, September 21, 2009

Blog-Royale September 21

Goodbye Summer:


I will miss you

Actually that's a bit of an overstatement...I don't think there were even any Summer blockbusters this year. All I can remember was Harry Potter and Final Destination 3D.
What the F?
Maybe I should just bite the bullet and watch District Nine.
Even if I did miss Districts 1 - 8.

In the place of any brilliant films or life affirming albums (although well done to the xx for making a British record that has actually managed to sell some copies round the world AND be good at the same time) I guess we have had X Factor, which is just about enough of a phenomenon to keep everyone talking to each other for a few weeks. At least in this country.

It's sort of amazing that there's a TV show that's allowed to spend almost half a year essentially doing nothing but advertising itself. Whilst all the while making money from other advertisers paying to advertise after every fifteen minutes of advertising.

Imagine a weekly hour long advert for a new cereal (let's call it 'Misery Flakes') that starts in August...even though the cereal doesn't hit the shelves until late December.

Every week, the show would subtly build up to the launch date with a very simple hour of amusing bullshit. Then, a couple of months in, it would double the helping to two hours of 'Misery Flakes' themed television a weekend. As well as another spin-off show on ITV 2 that would also be serial.


At some point, a telephone vote would be added to help milk (yup) even more money out the show. 'Vote for how nutty you want your flakes'. Or 'how flakey' or just any meaningless question really, because at the end of the day the producers don't give a shit.

The audience is BOWLed over whatever happens.

Enough puns, I'm trying to make a point here.

All the five or so people behind the programme (that brilliantly, isn't even based on their own ideas) have to do is edit the show in a way that makes it SLIGHTLY more exciting than an episode of Lisa Reilly era 'You've Been Framed' and they're guaranteed that come Christmas morning, every family in the damned country will be eating 'Misery Flakes'. However miserable they taste.


Now this is starting to sound like a rant, so I'll check myself before I wreck myself.

In my opinion, X Factor is no bad thing. It's the most regulated, well planned, highly detailed and controlled form of pop culture available to us. And so we don't make mistakes (and drink bleach instead of lemonade), we have adults in charge of when and how it's fed to us.

At the end of the day, whether we download a single, vote, or just watch a couple of classic moments on youtube, we're buying in to it. And that's incredible.

With Simon Cowell, our generation has its Andy Warhol, not only someone who understands that everyone will have their fifteen minutes of fame, but someone who can switch it off and on, without even having to really open his mouth.
Someone who can merge art and commerce proudly and well.
Someone who truly understands celebrity and the world's obsession with it, enough to turn it into a business, a conveyor belt, a factory.

Superstars are made. Superstars are unmade.

We all get a spin on the wheel.

Fame. Fortune. Misery. Death.

And with Steve Brookstein, we've had our generation's Edie Sedgewick...when it all goes wrong, Cowell's nowhere to be seen...

Taken from Brookstein's Wikipedia:

"He had won every one of the live shows and still holds the record for the winner with the highest ever votes received in the final - 6 million."

"In August 2005 it was announced that Sony BMG had dropped him from their line-up only eight months after his X Factor victory"

"In 2009 he was working on producing his wife Eileen Hunter's jazz album and performing at smaller, more intimate venues such as the highly regarded 606 Club in Chelsea and Pizza Express in Maidstone."

"Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art." - Warhol

"I've always treated the music business as a business. Whether I'm making TV shows or signing artists, you have to do it by the head and not the heart -- and I run my businesses that way." - Cowell