Head 2 Head: X Marks the Spot?

In between ad breaks, Rachel O’Neill and Richard Drumm debate the relevance of X Factor.

Rachel: Okay so here’s my first question Mr. Drumm, did you see the last episode of X Factor?

Richard: No I most certainly did not. My eyes would have gouged themselves out.

Rachel: That’s a very interesting point. So you mean to tell me that you’re entering into a debate on the merits and alleged downfalls of something you haven’t even bothered to research? Seeing as you appear completely ignorant of the facts, let me bring things back to basics. In terms of successful entertainment, we need a few core elements, a bit of flashiness to get the ball rolling, drama, conflict, a baddie, a hero, the underdog. X Factor is a one-stop shop for all of these things. I’ll admit that the producers might run away with themselves and you get that feeling of embarrassment, like when your Da starts belting out the tunes after a few pints, but so what! You still love him at the end of the day, right? And that’s the same relationship the public have with X Factor.

Richard: While this is mostly true, this entertainment you worship is just built on lies and starving children. It’s all just a pretence to take your money and make you buy crap you don’t want. The text votes alone must bring in millions, not to mention the fact that Simon Cowell is getting an insane amount of free market research. So when ‘Generic Sob Story 5’ wins this year, he knows exactly who his market is, he’ll get his Xmas No.1 and then let them fade into obscurity.

Rachel: You’re just clutching at straws! X Factor is like Ronseal. They say they’re looking for a ready-made pop star who’ll sell records, generate attention and basically make Simon Cowell and co shed loads of cash. Nobody’s denying that fact.

But the calibre of contestants cannot be denied even by the most cynical of you.

Tell me my friend, how exactly you can slate this programme offering fun for all the family? You know the government could launch this as part of a family bonding initiative. Dad loves old rocker Storm, who he thinks he could sing just as well as if not better. Mam loves sweet Matt Cardle, the lovely lad from next door. Your brother can’t choose between Belle Amie, Gwen Stefani lookalike Katie and shy scouser Rebecca Ferguson. And for yours truly – One Direction – enough said.

Richard: But think of the amazing things these bright people might be achieving if they weren’t spending three straight hours, if not more, having their brains assaulted by lowbrow, average, false ‘entertainment’. It’s all the fake emotion that gets me. Oh look, they’re inside his house looking at the family. They don’t know yet that he got through. Except wait, the camera crew is in there. Oh of course, THEY’RE ACTING.

Rachel: Oh now, somebody clearly hasn’t done their homework. Contestants are told at bootcamp whether they’ve gotten through to the judges houses. The only people present are other contestants and the judges. Not a sobbing nanny in sight. And the process is even more intimate when it comes to deciding who’s made it through to the live finals, as it’s just the judges and the contestants themselves… So I’m happy to say you’re misconception of X Factor is exactly that.

Richard: Well back in the dark days of my youth when I actually did watch it, things were done a little differently and all this fake emotion was present. However, if what you say is true and they’ve done away with all that, then that somehow makes it worse. People are tuning in to watch a load of robots talk in a scripted manner before giving away their money to someone who really doesn’t need it, so that they can tune in the next week and repeat the process. Entertainment? Ha.

If it wasn’t too popular, then it would be fine. But so many people get so engrossed in it. It’s so shallow and sterile. It distracts people from the real issues in the world. Newspapers shouldn’t be clogged with gossip from a show that’s so false they might as well have a script writer if they don’t already.

Rachel: Might I just say referring to your previous point that it appears you assume an awful lot about this show without giving it a chance. You have to give credit where it’s due and X Factor provides an overarching variety of artists on the show. Modifications have been made to the age limits on categories so that contestants are assigned to the right age group and appropriate competitors. Love it or hate it, X Factor as you’ve pointed out, is all we’re talking about. This very debate serves to cement its popularity from my point of view, or notoriety from the more cynical approach. Either way, X Factor fever has come to town.