Suing Simon Cowell: A Talent Britain Should Use More Often?

GARETH GATES HANGING OFF the Z-list, Alexandra Burke’s voice not being put to good use, ranty articles like this being written and so writing myself out of a job with Syco (his production company): Cowell’s got quite a bit to answer for.

Emma Amelia Pearl Czikai is still suing Simon Cowell for £2.5 million for being humiliated.

She’s done it before too (under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995).

Miss Czikai claimed to have suffered exploitation and degradation at the hands of the big Britain’s Got Talent judges. Alright, so far so good: but it turns out the lady is representing herself in court. This in itself is no bad thing, in fact, it shows just how brave she is behind the microphone. However it is a sad fact of court that she is unlikely to yield the result that she wants i.e., a nice wad of cash and apologies when faced with the best in the soliciting business.

At the pre-trial review, Miss Czikai, according to The Guardian:

“…levelled a claim of disability discrimination because the talent show had not made adjustments for her such as lowering the backing music and microphone levels.”

If the claims turns out to be true, Britain’s Got Talent would have at least have to issue some form of apology or more likely, an explanation which confirms the pre-production risk assessments TV staff already have to carry out. It is a big wonder that other ex-contestants haven’t jumped on the bandwagon. It would at least make for a stronger case.

Cziaki said: “This programme makes a select number of rich people very very rich on the backs of the ordinary man and woman in the street through exploitation, humiliation, degradation and a reemergence of modern-day barbarism with all its inherent cruelty.”

Well.

No s**t babes.

(c) getty images/film magic

Getting degraded and misused on national television isn’t a pastime restricted to the general public: Katie and Peter used to do it all the time. Willingly.

Easy asides aside, the former nurse has hit on a couple of  true dats whilst standing up for herself before Ms Justice and Your Honour.

Britain’s Got Talent will this year march out with millions of viewers amidst the death pile of Big Brother and other now-failed reality formats. Could Cowell actually be the bait as much as we put Cheryl on a pedestal?

If so, what is it that has made Cowell a winning element in all his shows? (Don’t say chequebook: they’re phasing out chequebooks in 2012.)

Simon Cowell’s only X Factor is this:

(c) getty images, the sneer at ascot

THE SNEER.

Ah, the beauty of loaded words.

You see, if you adopt a sneer of contempt and a veneer of knowledge, you could find yourself rivalling Cowell in the going-about of your business. Not that you’d want to but just in case it slipped your mind, Cowell’s own slavering for fame began here:

Not here, where the word ‘talent’ is an entry requirement.

This sneer, to tone down the bias, is otherwise known as assertiveness. Don’t groan, I absolutely mean it. (Assertiveness is a skill – not a trait – which few truly have and many wish to have. It’s nice not to get pushed around. Makes shopping in the sales a floaty, satisfying experience and finally you’re more likely to get free stuff from customer service phonelines.)

Cowell is a businessman: not a musician, not an art critic. And he’s a producer who has come up with one of the most enduring and successful entertainment formats in the entire world to date.

(c) getty images

The very little narrative that is within the show’s format places the judges as ‘god’ figures, as well as bad-cop figures. They are select few who make the decisions as to the feasibility of the dreams and desired futures of their contestants. I.E. X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, Dragon’s Den – it’s not so much that they are reality shows (they expose the entrepreneurial, hairbrush-diva within all of us) but they are not real in that people’s genuine hopes are played out in a hyper-real environment.  Rather they are judgement shows where dreams are measured up against the opinion of an elite as well as the crowd. When you think about it, the performances on BGT are all a bit witch-trial.

The good news is that this turns any unexpected successors into national heroes. Susan Boyle, although not technically the winner of the show, went global with her unique brand of ‘hairy angel’. She was voted in, she took Christmas, she conquered.  Andrew Lloyd Webber had never really known anything beyond his wildest dreams no matter how much he wrote songs about them, before Britain’s Got Talent.

Yet, skip to 2010 and the same old WYSIWYG rules apply. There are no copyhairycat acts. Contestants are still shallowly criticised or praised, appealing to a base yay-or-nay binary where no one stops to consider the subtleties if and when there are any. This goes for X Factor too.

(c) getty images/ film magic

Take the hippie-maned teenstar Diana Vickers. I’m not her biggest fan and the voices which precede her are much better, such as Robyn’s and Lene Marlin’s  – not that this matters – yet, she offered a sound which broke from the Glee-like, Polydor-friendly mould. The public loved her but somehow she just didn’t get the winning contract at the time. Fortunately this has been the making of her.

This may all sound snobby but it’s the direct result of analysing what the show means. It’s not just the judges, the ‘baddies’ who have that sneer. It’s the audience too. The BGT viewers are invited to be entertained by exercising their discriminative powers. The show as an entertainment space is a space where it’s acceptable to be judgemental and prejudiced, and a space where it’s acceptable to take Amanda Holden and Piers Morgan seriously.

Hmmmm. So why has no one else sued Simon Cowell’s arse off yet?

Especially as these guys won’t:

“Czikai has previously lodged a complaint with the media regulator Ofcom that she was unfairly treated on the programme. The complaint was rejected.” – The Guardian

Is her actual performance the reason why? Double-check her performance for yourself on YouTube here. Did the sound tech really screw her over? Or was she, really, just crap and deluded?

Nevertheless, Emma had a point: entertainment is becoming exploitation. And perhaps she is the martyr, even if not *quite* in tune.

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