Friday, June 3, 2011

Has Britain Got Bored of Britain's Got Talent?

Once again the internet proves to be the unruly child of the media world that rears up and slaps corporations in the face and then retreats to survey the carnage.

This time Ronan Parke, the 12-year-old who is seen as a hot favourite to win this year's Britain's Got Talent in the series final on Saturday, is at the centre of a storm brewing about whether he has been a product of Syco and groomed for success over the last two years.

Much like the controversy that dogged the last series of X-Factor when Cheryl Cole dodged her vote in what conspiracy theorists said was a direct attempt to manipulate the vote and save the contestant Katie, social networks have sprung into life off the back of an anonymous posting on a blog claiming to be someone from within camp Sony making allegations about the background of Ronan Clarke.

In the case of the X-Factor result, Ofcom said: 'It's unlikely the complaints will be upheld based on the fact the show didn't go against the regulator's rulebook.'

But this is a different situation altogether, with allegations being levelled at SYCO in particular on how they have manipulated both the artist and the show to produce the results that they ultimately want.

Of course none of this is new, scratch beneath the surface of any of these shows and allegations and conspiracies are plentiful and easily found in every corner of the internet.

As with any show of this type, a whole economy springs up alongside it as everyone tries to gain their slice of the pie and cash in on the cash cow that is reality television; the newspapers get the exclusives, the artists get some exposure and maybe a career out of it, the record labels get some sales and if they're lucky a spin off from songs that the artists cover during the show and finally the betting shops also get to cash in.

It is a machine that is very corporate and very much of benefit to the corporations that back these shows in the first place; perhaps the irony of this is that the show's 'undiscovered talent hoping for a break' ethos is a million miles away from the shiny offices and suits that await any winner.

But even the most calculated of corporate marketing initiatives can go horribly wrong; witness Rage Against the Machine's Christmas number 1 in 2009 that kept X Factor winner Joe McElderry's 'The Climb' by 50,000 copies and was seen by many as a slap in the face for Simon Cowell and his cohorts. And just to show that SYCO are all heart, Joe McElderry was recently dropped by the label and last seen heading back to his parents house after seeing his career nose dive back into the obscurity from whence if once came.

Timing is everything though, and as this story takes a grip of the nation and debate rages across the media one question we must be asking ourselves now is are we finally bored of these talent shows and actually more interested in the side shows they produce given that all we see on the screen is perhaps not as we would expect it to be?

If the chance of someone being plucked from obscurity and thrust into the public's eye is all but a creation of illusion by the makers then is the whole point of talent shows now lost in the corporate maze of lawyers and management teams determined to have their way?

One thing that is certain is that irrespective of how true these allegations are, Ronan Parke's career has already started with an unwelcome amount of media attention and his potential value as a commodity to SYCO may already be turning into something of a liability.

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