This is the end. No more Big Brother. Good news? Good news.
I used to enjoy Big Brother. The first series, when it was new and fresh and had not yet resorted to psychological torture, what larks. There was another series. Series five, I think it was, with added fisticuffs. Apart from that, though, it is, by and large, monumentally boring and, ultimately, supremely depressing.
Quite a few people have, over the years, encouraged me to audition. I can't think of anything worse. Why did anybody audition, ever? To become famous. And, yep, it gets them on television instantly, but afterwards? Why, after ten years, did people continue to audition when time and again it was proven that Big Brother contestants have a subsequent shelf-life of six months or less? Six months in the spotlight, is that what they dreamed of? Followed by an eternity of not ever being able to shake the label of "him from Big Brother". You could be working as a shipping clerk in Helsinki some forty years later and people would still remember you as "the one who was in Big Brother". In every single sense of the word, it is tragic. Big Brother ruins lives. It makes instant celebrities of people who will be famous for nothing other than "being famous". Quicker than with most it soon becomes apparent that they have absolutely no talent at all, to the extent that the biggest hope for the majority of ex-contestants seems to be pantomine or fitness DVDs.
Two or three months of televised tedium and cruelty and a lifetime of stigma - Big Brother is evil. Time and again I've told myself that I shouldn't hate on it too strongly. It brings joy to people! To millions of people! Therefore, there must be some good in it, surely? Well, no. Bear-baiting, gladiatorial battles, public-executions, crucifixions - they also used to bring joy to people.
Anyway, I got very mildly excited by this news. Not necessarily because it entailed the end of Big Brother. This show I haven't watched for years. It's ceased to interest or offend me, I won't notice its absence. No, I got excited, because, for a couple of glorious hours, it seemed to be the case that reality TV wasn't as immortal as I previously feared. It could collapse at any moment. Couldn't it?
Then the horrible, horrible, horrible truth sunk in like dreadful frozen death. The X-Factor will never die. Ever.
When you discount the obvious exceptions, The X-Factor is the single worst thing to have ever been on British television, ever. It seems to have been going on forever, yet, apparently, these fresh horrors we are currently witnessing represent only the sixth series. However, when you consider that before this we had Pop Idol, Popstars, Popstars: The Rivals and such BBC equivalents as Fame Academy and seasonal "variations" such as Britain's Got Talent, it's pretty difficult to remember a time when one could scan television listings without coming across some kind of Nazi talent show.
The only good thing I've ever had to say about The X-Factor is that it makes my mum very happy indeed. Then I considered, would I be so forgiving if she suddenly took joy in feeding orphans their own dismembered limbs?
Where to begin? With the music? For anybody who likes music, watching The X-Factor is an experience akin to witnessing toxic-waste being poured into a river. The dead fish that rise to the surface, bobbing on the surface like macabre grey mallards of death - they're the artists you love, surveying the concrete parking lot that was once their glittering meadow - that was once their home.
But ignore the music. In fact, let there be more music. Vapid sub-sub-sub-sub-midi-karaoke renditions of exactly the same empty standards year after year after year only serve to make that which I do love sound even better, anyway. There is so much more to hate about The X-Factor.
Is it exploitative? Absolutely. This article often makes for a shocking read, with runners-up literally contractually obliged to not say anything even vaguely negative about their experience. And the best they can hope for is - well, very little indeed, it seems. And it is such a horrible waste. Some of them do seem blessed with genuine talent. It's awful to watch them at this early stage - so full of hope and optimism, lambs to the slaughter, about to go through the grinder with no real guarantee at all that anything fruitful will come from their experience. They can't win. If they come first in the contest, it's only in extremely rare circumstances that successful careers are ever forged from TV talent shows. For most, it's one album of covers then a life of Butlins. And that's if they come in first place. For the runners-up, it's even more bleak, as they are promptly ignored and forgotten by all those who so nurtured and exploited them for months on end - left bruised, beaten and raped on the roadside, pissed upon and laughed-at by anybody who cares - credibility but a distant dream, to never be attained, ever. Again you have to ask - why do people audition when they know that this slaughterhouse may be the quickest way to get a career, but it's far from the most ideal? And these are people with talent. They can sing. It's even more of a waste of a life than is the Big Brother saw-mill.
With very few exceptions, in The X-Factor, there are no winners. Those that are laughed at in those early stages might be treated with the most overt-cruelty, but the sweet smiles and seductive kisses placed on the napes of those that have this elusive "X-Factor" only makes the inevitable rape even more brutal.
No, Simon Cowell, that impotent prick of a cowboy, is the only winner. Every year, he makes a killing through exploiting these young, naieve hopefuls, draining them to the last drop until, no longer of use, they're promptly forgotten. It's easy to think of him as a cowboy, observing the room with a hateful leering grin, savouring the lick of the meat, failing to get it up but blue in the balls at the mere thought of just how much money he's going to make. Again, and again, and again. There's no stopping it. People will always watch it, and he'll always do it. All he has to do is fold his arms and pretend that he knows what constitutes as good music and, again and again, he's a millionaire. The thing is, he doesn't know what makes good music. He has absolutely no idea. He knows what sells, and all that sells is utter bland inanity, and the only reason it sells is because year after year he and his goose-stepping cronies flood the marketplace with legions of such empty shit.
See the problem? It will never stop because it will always sell and it will always sell because it will never stop, with Simon Cowell becoming richer and richer, his bloated ego more than compensating for his useless limp cock. I thought that the only way to stop it would be by murdering him. I imagined him, stripped naked, tied spread-eagled in a garage-forecourt midwinter - ice-cold spray trained on his pale, flabby body, slowly freezing to death. But no. That wouldn't do it. There'd be five years of "tribute shows". Contestant after contestant "doing it for Simon" before they find a replacement who'll exaggerate his worst features and be even worse, then the whole cycle would be repeated, again and again. And again. There's just no stopping it.
Oh, and it can also be said that for a show that attempts to pass itself off as "reality", it's ludicrously fake. Even The Mirror knows it's fake. The Mirror. And yet, year after year, we fall for the same bullshit over and over. We share their woes, their joys, and we laugh together at those MUTANTS who DARE to think they can sing. The auditions sound particularly hellish, and serve to highlight further how horribly contrived is everything. The auditions you see on TV are not the first auditions. There are two seperate panels of judges to satisfy before they even think of letting you sing for Simon. What a chilling thought it is to consider those who are apparently only there to be laughed at. Those that can't hit a note, who're slightly older, those who don't stand a chance. When going through the various layers of hell/audition, do they know that they're being sent to their humiliating deaths, or does a part of them actually think that they're doing well, that they're going to make it? It's cruelty. There simply is no other word for it.
There's just no stopping it. Just as I can't remember a world before The X-Factor, I can't picture life afterwards. I don't even watch The X-Factor, and yet I find such a thought supremely depressing. I can but cling to two small hopes. First, I never thought we'd ever see the end of Big Brother. Second, even the mightiest of empires fall eventually. If The X-Factor ever topples, however, its ruins will be nowhere near as striking as those left behind by the Romans. No crumbling remains of human ambition and ingenuity, instead we'll have entire generations of imbittered hopefuls and an endless legacy of awful, synthetic, plastic music, forever to be played in the airport lounges and department stores of the darkest depths of hell. There is, therefore, no hope.