I have a guilty secret I feel I need to confess. I watch the X Factor.
I know, there is no excuse, even the planet’s most brain-dead numbskull must surely have more to feast their mind on than the processed muck these talent shows churn out.
The whole contrived and seedy world of reality television is one I closed the door on many years ago after I stopped watching Big Brother around 2003.
I realised these were not “real” people, but desperate wannabe models or television presenters with no real talent to offer except the willingness to do whatever sickeningly outrageous thing it takes to blow up a scandal.
I became sick of hearing about which magazine deals they were going to agree to, and which agents would be desperate to sign them.
However, I admit I have not quite managed the break from Simon Cowell’s X Factor freak circus.
Maybe it is the “nothing better on” on a Saturday night syndrome, or perhaps it’s just pure ghoulishness - the fascination of watching desperation-blinded wannabe singers being used for entertainment.
Whatever it is, I have realised it’s not very nice.
This revelation hit me on Saturday night when the set-them-up-to-watch-them-fall format plumbed sickening new depths.
I am referring to contestant Zoe Alexander, who in a matter of a few short minutes had been reduced to tatters by this vile, gladiatorial, spectacle.
In case you didn’t see, or had forgotten (unlikely), Zoe was the Pink tribute act who came on hoping to be recognised for her voice rather than her likeness to the American singer she impersonates “as a day job”.
After telling the judges about her ambition to make it big, she launched into a rendition of Pink’s So What.
Ok, it wasn’t great, and within a few seconds the judges were waving their arms around for her to stop.
The verdict, they were not seeing Zoe, but her Pink alter ego, and could she sing another song.
So off we went again, this time with an Emili Sande tune, equally non-impressive but delivered with the gusto of someone whose life’s hopes and dreams are pinned on this moment.
Of course she was knocked down again, accused of not being original, and given the advice to go away and “find yourself”.
All hell broke lose at that point. In an apoplectic rage she stormed out, tossing the microphone on the stage.
Seconds later she was back with her father, who had been waiting backstage, to deliver a torrent of four letter words, waving her fist, and collapsing in tears on the stage.
She was held back by her dad, and warned by a finger-wagging Tulisa to stay on the stage and not get any closer.
Really Tulisa, what did you expect?
Leaving the stage, to scowls from the horrified judges, Zoe proceeds to shove a camera man out of the way almost demolishing a piece of the backstage set, before being escorted physically from the premises.
The result - a fantastic piece of Saturday night viewing for the Cowell’s ratings, and another reject in the papers on Sunday morning claiming they were taken advantage of and their life has been ruined.
A bit dramatic as I am sure it will blow over, but yes Zoe, you have been made a laughing stock by X Factor, and I have to say, you walked right into it.
But that doesn’t make it right.
We all saw what happens when television programs build up people’s hopes just to stick a foot out and trip them into falling flat on their faces.
Zoe maintains she was set up, and I must say, I am inclined to believe her.
The whole thing looked very contrived and staged.
She looked truly shocked when they criticised her for singing a Pink song, proclaiming “you told me to sing Pink”.
I can well believe they did, not during the bits we saw, but I am sure a bit of pre-performance cajoling went on.
I bet she was led down a path which producers knew would deliver the desired result, an X Factor scandal on the first night of the new series.
What a horrid and vile piece of manipulation that was.
Yes, she took part of her own accord, and yes she was the one effing and blinding when it all started to go horribly wrong, but I suspect she was well groomed and prepped for that part, no less deliberately than had she been handed a script before going on.
After the initial car-crash thrill of watching the tantrum kick off, I was left with a very nasty taste, as if I had been part of this sinister throwing to the lions. In watching I suppose I had.
I pity this poor girl, because I am sure those clips will be wheeled out each time they show “highlights” of the program, and we all remember the punchers, screamers, and petulant toy throwers.
The moral, stop watching this putrid garbage, and don’t believe everything you are shown on reality TV as true to life.