28 Dec 2010

Why I Loathe The X Factor - A Christmas Special

I'll be honest. I loathe the X Factor and everything it stands for.

The X Factor is simply a modern paradigm of Social Control.

It's bad for society, bad for morality, bad for politics and democracy and just plain insulting.

The X Factor embodies the ultimate acheivements of a Marcuse scheme of social control by informal means in capitalist consumer society.

Material Social Control

To explain, Marcuse argued that;

"an "advanced industrial society" created false needs, which integrated individuals into the existing system of production and consumption via mass media, advertising, industrial management, and contemporary modes of thought"

Therefore, to relax now translates into, eg, "a coffee", but what brand of coffee? Where? Your needs are defined by an industrial revolution of false hopes and requirements.

Think of the teenager who simply must have the Iphone 4, or the latest computer game?

And this translates in to kidulthood and adulthood how one should dress (Next, not New Look), how one's home must be (is your sofa leather?) and one's aspirations in life.

This is where the X Factor comes in.

The show developes false needs based on aspriations - I want to be a "star", talent is irrelevant as long as I have the requisite gender stereotype clothes, hair style and personality. I can acheive this by subscribing to this concept.

It also creates false benchmarks with which to measure ones self. Can I sing in tune? Am I over a size 10 or 32" waist? Do I know the "lingo"? Are my nails manicured?

And so on.

This, in turn, translates into wider social control.

All of a sudden, the populus, the conformists and the anticonformists can be predicted by the series on the television. Behaviour is conditioned by people's desire to be in or avoid such dumbed down presentations.

Teenagers are so fixated on their modern technology, their appropriate clothing and their image that they negate the ability to think laterally or logically.

This has led to huge debts (the kids who think they are destined to becoem stars and live a life style in accordance because debt does not matter).

Now social aspirations are completely out of tangent with social needs. Do we have enough plumbers? No. No one has an aspiration to be a plumber as they are too busy ensuring they look right when they sing so if they get to an audition, they can ensure they will get through.

When social aspirations are shaped intentionally or unintentionally, the general rules of society must be effected. If people are no longer aspiring to hold a job in order to purchase the house, raise a family, retire; and simply waiting for the next opportunity to become famous, and this becomes the status quo, society will slowly but surely rot.

Consequently, actions and behaviour are conducted without true responsibility, where repercussions mitigated by false needs.

Eroding Morality

This is further illustrated by the fact; where acceptable social behaviour is influenced and shaped by the behaviour of those on the show.

Emotional immaturity is condoned by the show. The ones who cannot sing, who throw tantrums when they cannot hit the right note, or where they are berated by jobsworth judges, may create an amusing experience for viewers, but they also condition a "diva" style behaviour that is normalised and translated in to day to day life.

The acrimonious and sarcastic put downs do little to further human endeavours either. This behaviour, which would translate into harassment and intimidation in the Employment Tribunal, is suddenly how one should aspire to behave in a role of power and management.

Therefore we get division in socially controlled behaviours; one is either a nasty, malicious and derogative superior, or a hopeful, grateful and well groomed subordinate.

Neither seem to provide a particularly congenial behaviour set.

Gratifying the Public

One thing that strikes me is the similarities between alleged cultural shows such as the Factor and the Gladiators of the Roman Empire.

The ubiquitous gladiators of the Colosseum were allegedly funded as a form of social responsibility by the rich to entertain the masses. This was known as munera.

Rather like the golden era in the 70s when families would religiously attend football matches are to watch "their team" on a weekly basis; the routine display of the successful and the Carnival of the unsuccessful within the ex-factor provides a striking resemblance to the routine entertainment of the people in Ancient Rome.

The freak show of those who cannot sing and are not athletically acceptable presents us with the ultimate entertainment through which we can identify both our need and our failures.

And of course, all of the time it is on, we are more interested in seeing who will and will not succeed in what the apparent benevolent rich are up to in controlling our future.

Which, while it may not have been the intention of those in authority, is a rather convenient truth in ensuring the masses are not dissatisfied enough to riot, demonstrate or vote them out.

And don't even get me on to the dangers it presents to equality, feminism and class divide!

1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    While it's clear that one can view the X-Factor as an inadvertent agent of social control - a pressure valve for dissatisfaction with society - I would argue that its very form also permits a certain amount of hope. It's predicated on the audience actively wanting to make worthwhile decisions - I discuss this argument further here:



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