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Monday, November 8, 2010 / Duncan Forgan

Unexpectedly, I respect Simon Cowell, but not the Audience


A lack of focus at the moment (plus the looming spectre of my PhD viva) has left this blog a little neglected, so I’ll fall back on the barely-directed invective option.

Whatever happened to constructive criticism?  I’ve been watching the X Factor this year (for my sins).  While doing my utmost to hover above the show and not get too emotionally involved (bloody Wagner!), I can’t help but feel a little disappointed in the audience.  Apart from their lunatic screaming at every opportunity (scripted I know), what really gets me is their apoplectic reaction to the slightest comment from the judges that isn’t brimming with diabetic positivity.

The judges’ job is to assess the performance of each act – surely they can’t all be 110% perfect every week? If you can suggest a weakness to be improved on, that’s surely a good thing?

Simon Cowell doesn’t mince his words, and his deconstruction of blithering “hopefuls” in the early shows are something of a trademark, but at this stage of the competition he changes his tone (primarily because there’s money involved).  He’s got an agenda, but his agenda is to make sure that any one of the acts left could be a money-spinner.  If he thinks they’ve made a poor song choice, or that the act is going the wrong way, he’ll say because there’s cash riding on it.

And that’s fine – I have no illusions about these types of programme, and I hope the rest of the audience doesn’t either.  It’s the best market research tool ever invented.  But whatever his motives, his criticism is of benefit to the act.  So stop booing for goodness’ sake! Maybe just cheer a little less loudly.  Remember that constructive criticism is good for you – as Churchill said,

Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.

Yes, me watching the X Factor is in itself an unhealthy state of things, but feel free to criticise me.  Constructively.

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