The Bush of Goats

Marc Williams, writer & designer: 'Life's too short for empty slog ans'

The shadow-handed puppet-masters of Television today

I just watched the Susan Boyle clip from Britain’s Got Talent on YouTube.

I don’t think anyone has ever quite lived up to the title ‘Evil Pantomime Genius’ like Simon Cowell does (which isn’t to say I don’t like him- I actually find him charming and I like that he smokes), but this Guardian article meant when I watched Cowell’s latest prodigy, I had already had a peek behind the curtain. and discovered some interesting facts about the heartwarming story of Susan and Simon™.

For instance, judging by the way tedious shitpipe Piers Morgan and the strangely bovine ham, Amanda Holden acted all gaspy and ‘shocked’, you’d think they never seen or heard Susan before – like in the rehearsals, or at the auditions they would have attended. Neither would they have been, I’m sure, informed by Mr Cowell, over the six weeks prior to her arrival on stage that he’d been touting her for, that their was a sensation on the way. Only a cynic might not be surprised to learn Max Clifford had been brought on board long before she took those first faltering steps out onto the stage to meet her artfully primed public. She already has an album deal and studio time lined up as well. But such tedious inconvenient truths are not part of the myth everyone seems so engaged in creating.

So while I can hardly blame Simon Cowell for being smart enough not to miss an opportunity like Susan, all I could think was how weak reality television’s prying eye had made what might once have been an interesting story, had the makers not bothered to pretend they were invisible in the process; how they can only watch helplessly as the hideous leering machinery of media strips away Susan’s modesty to reveal her tragic plight™ in front of carefully selected socio-economically representative teenagers calling her a ‘same-face’ behind their sleeves, because, right, their preconceptions are about to be challenged, but they don’t know it, yeah?

For f*ck’s sake.

Please, reality telly makers! Stop trying to make us believe that *this* time you’ve **really** captured the essence of the human spirit with your magical electrically-powered lanterns? These are the same old ham-fisted spiritualist parlour tricks you and others of your ilk have been trying on for years. Believe it or not, some of the people who watch TV also actually know how it works! we know Star Wars wasn’t actually made in space! Please stop treating us like medieval children you can hypnotise with a mirror: you do still want to be an industry in twenty years, don’t you?

Ranting aside, regardless of whether Susan is nice or difficult, when she opened her mouth to sing… i thought she warbled quite a lot. But there it is again, the crepusculent hand of reality television – ‘oh don’t worry about that,’ leers a producer, ‘we’ll amp up the crowd, that’ll drown her out. anyway, this isn’t *about* the singing … we can sort her out a vocal coach after the fuss has died down…’

And that’ll be it, off into the blackness for Susan Boyle: lost in the machinery, singing the lead in the made for the 24hr TV musical docudrama of ‘Jodie Marsh – my suicide’.

I’m sure Susan Boyle, as she once was, was an interesting personality that anyone venturing into her remote part of the world would have been sure to remember – perhaps even as a very good singer, had they heard her perform. But now, thanks to the fucking magic of television™, we can all share in the wonder of her remarkable story, and enjoy the barely dressed commodification of interesting variables into a global singing phenomenon™ that is Miss Susan Boyle.


Filed under: Noticing


April 2009


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