Brian O'Reilly: New X Factor format may have been cruel – but it made brilliant TV
BREAKING news: People had their dreams crushed on X Factor over the weekend.
Almost as predictable as Louis' annual proclamation of ‘the next big boyband’, came the usual outcry of how ‘cruel’ X Factor has become.
Yes - the show that has made an international pastime out of seeing deluded hopefuls fall flat in the most public of ways has come up with a new way to see them burn.
The twist was simple – the judges would pick their final six, however would have the option to drop and replace acts as the bootcamp show progressed.
“It was like dangling a carrot in front of someone and then taking it away”, complained one of the rejects in the media over the weekend.
And so it was. Because never before have we seen the hopefuls handed their dreams, then have them cruelly snatched away at the last moment.
It was terrible. It was heart wrenching. But it was brilliant TV.
The judges pretended to agonise over their picks. They played the part of reluctant hangman to a tee.
To further rub salt in the wound, the rejects then had to hug the usurper of their X factor throne as they left the stage.
The judges would follow their rejected act off the stage and read them off page one of the ‘what to say to a reject’ handbook.
“Oh you’ll make it next year”, “this just wasn’t your time”, “You’re going to be a star some day”. Small comfort to those all too well aware their 15 minutes of fame are now firmly consigned to the past.
This has always been part of the X Factor circus.
From the very earliest days of the talent show format, seeing people fail publicly has been part of the spectacle.
Sadistic maybe, but there is something strangely compelling about watching people’s hopes dashed. Like not being able to look away from a car crash.
We may not actively enjoy it – but like a weepy movie, we derive emotional satisfaction from it.
We enjoy the invasiveness of what should surely be a very private moment, as someone mourns the loss of a life they felt was within their grasp.
It’s why – love it or loathe it – the X Factor has become compelling viewing and consistently pulled in millions over viewers of the last decade.
It’s a show all about dreams – we see young hopefuls plucked from obscurity and their dreams turned to reality.
We see others cast back to the humdrum life from which they came – yet we derive equal enjoyment from both.
So long as there are people willing to play public Russian roulette with their dreams, the public executions will continue.