Socialism...it won't work...people are naturally greedy and competitive. If I had £1 for every time I heard that, I would be a rich capitalist bastard. The thing is, competition is forced upon us at every turn. TV seems to be turning everything into a competition at the moment. Think of singing, dancing, skating, cooking, creating a work of art, living in a house for four weeks without annoying too many people...and you'll soon be thinking of a TV game show.
Which leads me to The X Factor. Everything about it says I should hate it and avoid it like I would avoid Louis Walsh in a wine bar. But I am drawn to it. It is strangely compelling, as Capt. James T. Kirk might say. I am drawn to it because it sometimes turns up very real raw talent, in particular I am thinking of...don't throw things at me now...Diana Vickers (more about her later). Of course it's all too possible that X Factor success will lead to being devoured by a giant music corporation that then churns out another teeth-whitened auto-tuned bubblegum popster. But I am STILL entertained by Alexandra Burke, for example, and I can't help it. I will listen to her album again today. And I think Subo's (not X Factor, I know, but the same sort of thing) version of Wild Horses is a pretty good cover of a much-covered song. I agree that XF seems to value only a very narrow spectrum of musical ability, but it is as if the individuality shines through despite production line treatment.
So maybe the competition does produce talent, or at least bring it to our attention. Of course there's loads of brilliant stuff that would fly straight over Simon Cowell's helicopter landing pad haircut, and I still cringe when I see or hear Jedward, or I peep at those hide-my-face-behind-the-cushion qualifying rounds. It was Ricky Gervais, I think, that described them as the bewildered being paraded before multi-millionaires for our entertainment. But I remain an X Factor addict, and there is no treatment known to humanity.