Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Britain’s got psychological problems

In the wake of the Susan Boyle controversy Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden has said that it’d be ‘impractical’ for them to psychologically screen all entrants to the competition. She’s right of course, but instead of impractical she could also have used the term ‘counter-productive’. The entire joy of watching the initial audition process would be destroyed if they were to exclude people due to borderline personality disorders.

It probably says something about my personality but I have no interest in seeing people with moderate talent trying to prove their worth, I’m far more interested in the legions of the misguided and (possibly) psychologically-impaired who think that they have something special to offer, when in truth they’ve always just had special-needs.

The malignant spread of reality TV seems to prove that I’m not alone, clearly most couch-potatoes like a dose of delusion with their evening meals. We all like to laugh or gasp at the ‘hilarious’ efforts of those who believe themselves to be the next Madonna, or Elvis. It’s the modern-day equivalent of bear-baiting, or maybe it’s dog-fighting for non-chavs or bare-knuckles for non-pikeys. Seeing Cowell savage would-be contestants, tearing their hopes into tiny pieces, is a bizarrely-ritualistic form of entertainment taking us back into the arena with the gladiators and the emperor who can turn fate with a simple twist of thumb-up or thumb-down.

As the tabloids look to feast on the remains of the competition and carve their pound of flesh from its rotting corpse, the ‘qualities’ have been keen to establish whether ITV or the programme-makers could’ve done more to assist the psychological well-being of the contestants. To which the answer surely has to be, yes, but do they want to? It may be impractical to offer screening or testing to all contestants but they could’ve done more for those they knew to be at risk.

I may expand on this here, otherwise here's some other takes on the story.