Practice Question:

‘Talent shows like The X Factor provide cheap television, gossip and nothing of any value. There are better programmes than these.’

Argue for or against the views expressed in this quotation. Your piece will appear on the entertainment pages of a website.


Television, Drug of the Nation

Far from being valueless, ‘talent’ shows like The X Factor are downright dangerous. To argue that they’re empty is dangerous too, because in this dismissal of these reality TV shows we are suggesting that their impact is minimal, nothing to be concerned about. The predominance of the “If you don’t like them, don’t watch them” retort to any criticism of these shows denies the carcinogenic effect they are having on our nation, culture and youth. Like any dangerous drug, they’re not going to go away just because we ignore them. Instead they’re going to insidiously eat the minds and souls of the young people in our society, replacing them with an empty hunger for more and more…

First let’s remember how much money is being made from these programmes. When the combined profit from the spin-off albums,  memorabilia and royalties are totalled up, enough cash is being vacuumed out of our national economy to run a middle sized pacific nation – or a London hospital. This money goes into the pockets of one or two men with bad hair, never to return to the public pocket again. And what do these producers do to justify their exorbitant profits? They parade a freakshow of the semi-talented, largely mentally-ill poor to be humiliated in front of the national TV audience. All in the name of ‘talent’.

True talent is only ever attained through the opposite of the instant fame these programmes like the X-Factor promulgate. It’s achieved through hours of hard work, discipline and determination. The value of hard work – and the fact that almost anything can be achieved with the judicious application of same – is being undermined by these programmes where even the most brain dead talent-free school-leaver can be catapulted from their cat-fancying obscurity into mega-stardom with the push of a big plastic button.

Is this the message we want to send to our young? That there’s really no point studying hard to learn in school because true success is really achievable at the push of a button? Is this what we want them to be able to tell their grandchildren? “I achieved instant fame at the age of 17 as ‘The one with the nice biceps’ in a lip-synching boy-band”. Of course it’s not, yet these fake-tanned morons are being paraded in front of us as if they were the ultimate in human creation.

The most pernicious part of the X-Factor addiction that has a hold on our nation is the extent to which it is distracting the populace from what is really going on. Who wants to worry about climate change when there’s another 50 year old recluse singing show tunes to laugh at on TV? How should we choose our politicians? By how they’re dressed and how well they perform on TV of course – no-one is interested in what they think or have to say.

This culture of superficiality, selfishness and instant gratification finds its mecca in the talent shows. When more europeans voted for a bearded Austrian Drag Queen than their Members of the European Parliament it has to be obvious to us what these shows really are.

I leave you with the immortal words of the Disposable Heroes of Hip Hopricy “Television, the drug of the nation, breeding ignorance and feeding radiation”