“Britain’s Got Talent” or Does it?: A Critique of Popular Culture

Two weeks ago Britain’s Got Talent began its new season. So far, with a few notable exceptions such as this “boyband” and this singer and this singer, this year has a somewhat ridiculous lack of talent. Comedians aren’t funny, dog’s don’t preform on command, and singers are off key. So far, there is less talent than in any previous season, all of which are on YouTube. 

Or, is the issue not a lack of talent per se, but an issue of what people find entertaining or what producers (rich White guys) find entertaining and this becomes what people enjoy and find normal.

Indeed, Britain’s Got Talent (and America’s Got Talent, etc., etc.) are profound examples of how everyday the Jerry Springer Syndrome has become. The United Kingdom, with its 64.1 million people as of 2013, is bound to have 64.1 million plus individuals who are truly talented at something, some exceptionally so and a talent that would gain sincere applause or laugh.

For instance, this bagpipe trio should have never made it past the pre-pre-audition stages if producers and judges are sincerely interested in talent. “Contestants” could well be in on it (people generally have some idea of what they are and aren’t good at), but making fun of people should not be pleasurable entertainment. 

Additionally, this comedian is clearly not talented (or not shown as being talented) at being a comedian – this act did not in any way contribute to finding unseen talent in Britain or toward finding a performance for the Royal Variety Performance.

Why is this show called Britain’s Got Talent? Personally, I would enjoy seeing people doing things—singing or otherwise—they truly are talented at.

Maybe, thinking of semiotics, we should ask what does talent even mean?!  

Other times, this show and its sister versions in dozens of countries around the world build people up entirely too much, per se. The way this world is, having one great (or bad) performance will likely change little overall – Susan Boyle is the exception. On America’s Got Talent, judges told Jonathan Allen, who was abandoned by his family for being gay, “With your talent, the show has become your family…welcome home, we love you, we love you, we accept you, and we’re so proud you came here,” only to also abandon him. 

I have been planning a version of this post for almost two years! I’ve seen one episode of America’s Got Talent on You Tube over a year ago (season 8, week 2), and it pretty much features everything that is wrong with the nation. And that is only one of the reasons why I don’t have a television and don’t watch its programming (except, in very, very rare circumstances to see what I need to critique, and only if it is free on YouTube).

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Categories: Thoughts and Perspectives

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4 replies

  1. I’ve always said if you can’t sing good sing loud! I don’t watch these shows because I think they are incredibly stupid. But that’s just my opinion. I think we went downhill once a person from a reality show could become a “star” because they acted like an a$$ on TV.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think there is definitely an argument for not watching TV, but I really don’t think those arguments should ever conclude in someone refusing to watch television. With Netflix nowadays you can pick and choose what to watch based on other respected peoples opinions.

    Yes, I’d probably get more done if I didn’t watch TV, but that is like saying I’d get more done if I didn’t spend all that time eating. Watching television relieves my stress, it challenges my mind, it allows me to relive experiences.

    For example, when I watch Freaks and Geeks, I am able to think back to my early childhood and reevaluate certain situations I was in. It helps jog my memory and take me to a place that I would not have gone without it.

    When watching shows like Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, True Detective, and Game of Thrones, I am able to see multiple people develop over long periods of time. I am able to see how their decisions result in either good or bad. They show destructive characters, and without you having to experience it yourself your able to live through those choices.

    Shows like Arrested Development or It’s Always Sunny, break social norms. It makes you think, “why is this funny”? Also, they expose you to excellent writing (Arrested Development especially). Shows like Southpark and The Boondocks comment on social matters of the time. They challenge you to either agree or disagree with their opinions. Many times Southpark has covered topics that have lead to me doing my own research on the subject and developing my own opinion.

    Most importantly, I enjoy myself when I watch these television shows. They make me who I am. Just like you mentioned in the comment dealing with course surveys, they help me reflect on my decisions and force me to reevaluate certain thoughts I have.

    Books are the same exact way. If I choose to read “good” books everything above will result. Just like TV, if I read “bad” books then I miss out on certain sections of the above. Are you picky with what books you read? I certainly am. The same goes with what television shows I watch.

    In my head, the whole notion of not watching television strikes me as like not eating any sugar. Yeah, if you eat too much sugar you’ll end up gaining weight, but without eating any sugar your meals become bland and stale. Adding sugar to a certain dish, even in small amounts, could make or break it. However, there are always going to be people who still consume way too much sugar. They do this because they lack self-control. Does that mean everyone should not eat sugar too?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was sooo much fun to read and watch! Thanks. RAE



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