Soapbox: X-Factor Judges

Elaine McDonald climbs on Otwo’s Soapbox to complain about X-Factor Judges

Talent shows, whether you love them or hate them, they fill the winter weekends with something for us to complain about. Our Facebook newsfeeds are always on the verge of exploding the second it comes on, shouting into the void about who is so annoying, who is gorgeous and, my firm favourite: “What the hell is Tulisa wearing?”

That’s the thing, no one ever really talks about the talent itself and if they do it’s only a badly-spelt regurgitation of something one of the judges has said. The X Factor doesn’t care about talent, it doesn’t even care about ‘star quality’, it’s about who causes the most controversy or who has the most deeply-moving backstory.

Take Kye for example, one of this year’s over 28 contestants. He was a single chimney sweep and he had spent all his adult life trying to make it ‘big’ but had never succeeded as no one had faith in him. Let’s do a little translation on this in layman’s terms: he’s got a reasonable, if a bit dirty, job. He is currently single, which is not to say he never had a good relationship in his life. In his free time he enjoys writing and performing music but never really pursued it. He is one of the millions of people with guitars so why should he ‘make it big’? To X-Factor Kye equates to this:

  1. The mere fact he’s a chimney sweep makes X Factor gods for giving him this opportunity. People will pity him for having to do a hard day’s work.
  2. Single means he appeals to all, is completely accessible and deluded fans think they have a chance.
  3. Trying to make it big just means he’ll do, say and perform anything to get famous.
  4. No one had faith in him gives him the instant pity vote.

X Factor spends so much time on make-overs and making the contestants look as polished as possible that they look past the reality that the majority of them are just somewhat attractive and auto-tuned to every last syllable. Sometimes the sob stories they come up with are mortifying. For example: “Well, about 30 years ago, I’m sorry this is a little bit hard for me to talk about. *Wipes away imaginary tear* my great-great-great grandfather died, of natural causes”. Or something like “I’m a single mum and I’m doing this for my daughter. If I don’t win X Factor I have no job or home to go back to”.

Where do they get these people? Shouldn’t you be at home with your daughter doing something productive like building a house out of cardboard instead of getting your teeth whitened and doing ridiculous dance routines? Why are you making that phone-hand gesture? You want me to ring in so you can stay in the competition? How about no, I would rather spend that 25c on a Freddo bar, thank you very much.

The judges are my favourite part though, the focus is more on who got the fat taken from their buttocks and injected into their face and who made that tape and who was the fat one in Take That rather than focusing on legitimate industry experience. People only tuned into one episode because Gary declared Tulisa had ‘fag-ash-breath’. No one cares Gary.

Furthermore, I always enjoy how they try to pit the female judges against each other. The ridiculousness of the tabloids never ceases to amaze me: “Nicole refuses to sit next to Tulisa until she has her aura professionally cleansed”, “Decision made to give Louis’ hair plugs their own seat in the panel”, “Gary berates fellow judges for having peppermint fresh breath”.

X Factor isn’t so much about singing ability; I think Wagner being a contestant demonstrated that much, but more about the bloodbath. It is a novelty and while it might be the hype until December, no one even remembers the majority of the contestants after the Christmas presents have been unwrapped.

The real talent on the X-Factor is the acting abilities of the judges; does Gary really care if Tulisa has “fag-ash-breath”? Does Louis care about the choreography? Does Tulisa know what a breath mint looks like? Unlikely, but it still gets the ratings. Your best bet is to simply turn it off.