In recent years, TV talent shows have burst onto our screens with a vengeance. With most showing ordinary members of the public competing for a large monetary prize and a chance at media exposure they could never afford. They are only increasing in popularity. TV talent shows have played a big part in changing the face of popular television throughout the world. A few at the top of the list:
The Voice
America’s Got Talent
Britain’s Got Talent
The X Factor
American Idol
The Sing Off

There is no doubt about it, talent shows like X Factor offer successful competitors an open door into the music industry, and a chance to become recognized. Some artists like Elton John oppose TV talent shows and will argue that a show like X Factor is the wrong way to kickstart a career in music. “Traditionally, artists started at the bottom and worked their way up, working long and hard hours with little reward, driven by passion and huge determination. Of course, there would always be artists who would sail to the top by means of a lucky fluke, but for the most part, success was finally ‘making it’ after a long, dedicated struggle”.

So, are television talent shows ultimately a good thing or a bad thing? They are certainly popular with a large section of viewers, dominating prime time weekend slots. They produce winners, and can even produce huge stars who go on to achieve massive global success – although I would emphasize that this is perhaps the minority, rather than the majority. At the same time, they can also produce ‘losers’; those who are ridiculed and humiliated for their disillusioned belief that they have something to offer. This could, in susceptible individuals, lead to depression and loss of self-esteem, which is unsupported by the producers and staff.

For those who can take rejection and a few knocks, then perhaps there is nothing wrong with entering a TV talent show – some would undoubtedly say it is the best step they have ever made. However, it is not an equal platform – often acts are put through who are less talented than other rejected acts. I would speculate that this is for the purpose of entertainment and to create a varied set of finalists.

Many people take shows like X Factor incredibly seriously, yet at the same time it is still a game, encased in a flashy environment. The ultimate point of the show, whatever those like Simon Cowell may say, is to attract an audience and to make money. Yes, Simon Cowell insists he is passionate about discovering the next ‘big star’ – and I am sure he is. Yet, finding that star is synonymous with producing a show that is a success in its own right – and that means pleasing the viewers at home. There is almost always a contestant that viewers love to hate, often with a comedic angle, who some people even claim to vote for just to see how long they can hang in there against the ‘real’ contenders.

Each year, hundreds of thousands try their luck at the auditions of TV talent shows, hoping that they are in with a shot. Viewers at home will embrace the good and ridicule the bad. YouTube will offer the chance to see the best again. For the mentally stable with a realistic perception, there is probably nothing wrong with entering such a show. Whatever stance one takes, it certainly seems as though television talent shows are here to stay.

Credit goes to Poly C of the Realrundown, UK for her contribution to parts of this article

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