Here in the UK, the X Factor has just kicked off its run of live shows that will lead us through to Christmas and the inevitable Christmas Number One single.
To describe the final 16 contestants as a mixed bunch would be an understatement! And the controversy surrounding the final selection is unbelievable.
The biggest issue for the national press seems to be the fact that a girl with a fabulous voice didn’t get put through to the live shows, in place of someone who messed up two of her three auditions. Fair enough I suppose.
But where it all goes mental is that the girl (Gamu) who didn’t get through is a Zimbabwean who came here as a child eight years ago and who is now facing deportation because her mother has allegedly claimed benefit that she was not entitled to. This has all come to light thanks to the lovely daily tabloids who felt the need to share Gamu’s life with the whole country.
So now we have street protests and death threats against judges. We have legal experts being interviewed on national news programmes, debating the rights and wrongs of the situation, and Facebook groups with over a quarter of a million followers that support Gamu and threaten the judge who didn’t put her through (Cheryl Cole).
This weekend saw the first live show, and it was clear that Cheryl was going to have a difficult night, finding for the first time in three series that she was being booed by the audience.
When the girl (Katie Waissell) who was put through in place of Gamu was saved by the judges when the public vote placed her in the bottom two, the audience booed, and today the tabloids are awash with front pages screaming for her to be “booted off” and complaining that she has no right to be there.
So I ask you…..has the world gone mad? When did news turn from being about war and crime and politics to being about two young girls who want to sing and so enter a singing competition?
My take on all of this is simple.
Gamu didn’t make it through. Big deal. Neither did Kerry Arindell or Annastacia Baker. Are they on the front pages of the newspapers crying foul play or mistreatment? Nope.
Gamu’s mother has possibly done something wrong. Big deal. Let the legal system sort it out. If she has, then so be it. If she hasn’t, all the better – but since when did entering a TV talent competition give a person the right to residence in a country irrespective of their legal right to remain?
I wanted Gamu to go through in place of Katie but I have to say, my life is not overwhelmingly altered by the fact that she didn’t! I don’t feel compelled to travel to Scotland and stand outside her flat with a placard pleading for her to be able to stay. I don’t have a deep seated need to send Cheryl Cole a threatening message. I have a life.
Isn’t it time that we got back to what’s actually important? What about the fact that the UK is in the grip of financial crisis or the fact that there are men and women fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq? What about the fact that there are countries out there suffering freak weather with devastating impacts? How about devoting some of those wasted X Factor column inches to promoting breast cancer awareness or similar?
I mean, after all….It is only a TV show. Right?