Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Simon Cowell Defect: Equating Talent Shows With Talent!



Back when we were in junior high school, every last one of us had the option to compete in a talent show. Since I had no marketable talent at the time, I didn't even think about entering.

That didn't stop a lot of my fellow students, however, and the winner of my junior high talent show wound up being some kid who put on on a wig, stuffed balloons down his (mom's) sweater and lip-synced to Tammy Wynette's "D-I-V-O-R-C-E".

The pay-off came at the chorus when he began thrust his elbows backwards and his chest forward to every letter..."D..I..V..O..R..C..E!"

Each time he did, his chest balloons would become, dare I say, more perky and pronounced, sending the entire auditorium of bored kids into a fit of laughter. Teachers who hadn't smiled in decades were doubled over in hysterics.

As "Tammy Parton" croned her way through the second verse, the kids began to titter and snicker excitedly, knowing that another chorus had to be coming along any second now... and when it did, they'd be ready.

Oh shit, here it comes.

"D (thrust) - I (thrust) -V (thrust) - O (thrust) - R (thrust) - C (thrust) - E (thrust)!"

The audience response to the second chorus was even louder than the first and unlike anything I've ever heard before or since.

About halfway through this riotous balloon boob spelling bee, I distinctly remember turning around and staring in utter fear at the faces of my fellow students in a state of absolute unguarded hysteria. By the last chorus, people were tearing their seats out of the damn floor.

Like Tiny Tim following Jimi Hendrix, the next performer came out and played a note-perfect rendition of "Tubular Bells" on wine glasses filled with water to thunderous indifference from the once-deafening crowd.

Of the two performers, I would go on-record any day of the year stating that the talent necessary to recreate "Tubular Bells" without the aid of a musical instrument is far superior to that needed to stuff a couple balloons down your (mom's) sweater and a lip-sync a country tune.

Thanks to "American Idol", "X Factor" and their ilk, we are now drowning in a "talent show" culture where the one with the most talent very rarely wins, consistently losing to the one contestant most capable of maintaining a TV audience's full attention. Throw in some flashy production values, a couple heartbreaking backstories and, BOOM, we have officially traded talent for spectacle.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, Im talking about "The Masked Singer".

I mean, how do you go back to just watching unknown attention-starved assholes vie for Simon Cowell's love after spending an hour trying to guess who was singing in that pink poodle outfit?

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