So I find these yes/no opinion pairings in news analysis pages a lot of fun to write. Okay, so the X-Factor isn't exactly *hard* news - but it did give me the chance to go head-to-head with Evening Herald TV critic Pat Stacey yesterday.
The topic was : ‘It’s real’: but while the tears and tantrums make for great TV, is any of it real?
I was to argue on the YES side...
By Susan Daly
Tuesday November 10 2009
It's easy to presume that there is nothing natural about The X Factor. Jedward's hairstyles, for starters, utterly defy the laws of gravity.
So much of the programme has to be about the glitz, the costumes, the half-naked dancers, the pantomime boos and cheers. This is, after all, the biz we call show.
Everyone's on show -- but that doesn't mean that everything is for show. The judges stand accused of making up their on-screen spats to garner headlines and create drama. What we might forget is that The X Factor is just a day at the office for the likes of Simon Cowell and Dannii Minogue.
Okay, most of us don't go to work in a cocktail dress in a fog of dry ice. But that doesn't mean that what happens on The X Factor is totally unreal -- it's just a heightened form of reality.
The office politics on the show are essentially the same being played out in workplaces across the country. Petty jealousies, bitchy remarks behind the boss's back, style wars between the women: we can all relate to those everyday irritations.
As far as Cheryl Cole was concerned, when Simon Cowell attacked her song choice for her boys Rikki and Lloyd in Diva Week, it was an attack on how she she was doing in her first job away from Girls Aloud. Hers weren't crocodile tears. When Simon likened his female judges to strippers, did they really need an autocue to tell them to be offended? Dannii's brow furrowed in disgust and, let's face it, that's not going to happen on demand.
Even the whole Simon Scowl persona is the real deal: Cowell did not get to where he has in the music business without reminding everyone exactly who's boss.
If Simon is the villain, Louis Walsh often gets accused of playing the pantomime dame.
In his years on The X Factor, he's had a drink thrown over him by Sharon Osbourne, he's been fired and rehired -- all good publicity.
But when he defends himself, he's defending his career. When he accused Cowell of bending the brief of Big Bands Week to suit his own agenda, he had a valid point. (Simon allowed his own charge, Jamie 'Afro' Archer, to sing U2, who are not what you could describe as kings of swing). It is not only the contestants on stage who want to win X Factor, there is a cachet in it for the judges too.
As for the latest row, in which Louis, a music manager for 30 years, slapped down host Dermot O'Dreary with: "You're not a judge, you're a presenter" ... Well, isn't that the hierarchy in workplaces everywhere? Stick to making the tea, young man.
AND this was Pat's big fat NO back at me...