“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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