Monday, August 13, 2007

Religion, race and the X-Factor

There's a curious little story pushing the new series of The X-Factor in today's Mirror:

X Factor Muslim turmoil

Dannii Minogue says a Muslim X Factor contestant will be disowned by her family when they find out she auditioned.

New judge Dannii said: "One girl, a Muslim, was shaking."

Hang on a moment - why does the woman's religion even warrant a mention, never mind the headline "Muslim turmoil"? Surely the point of the story is that the girl went on the show despite her parent's disapproval; the religion is incidental, isn't it?

Doubtless Dannii would insist she was "only mentioning" the Islamic connection - in the same way she was "only mentioning" those Arabic street signs - but the whole thing leaves a nasty taste in the mouth, with a lingering suggestion that Islam is such a crazy religion, it even won't let its followers be insulted by Simon Cowell. Is ITV really comfortable helping foster this false sense of otherness? Wouldn't the story be strong enough to promote a silly game show without trying to wrap it up in some "clash of cultures" rubbish?

After all, what we really have here is a child rebelling against strict parents, which can happen anywhere - even in atheist's houses.

This becomes clear as Dannii continues:
"We said, 'What's wrong?' she said, 'My parents don't know I'm here. If they find out they'll throw me out and never speak to me again'.

"We said, 'Well, is that what you want?'

"She said 'It's my dream to be a singer. I've got to do it even though it means I'll never speak to them'.

"So we said, 'OK, let's go ahead with the audition'."

Her performance will appear in the auditions programmes. So, since ITV has not only chosen to broadcast the sequence, with the repercussions it will bring to her private life, but also use it for pre-publicity, she must do well, surely?
A show source said: "She did have talent but don't expect to see her in the final stages as her voice wasn't strong enough."

Ah. So they're going to cause a rift in her family life by sticking her on the telly, and then kick her off the show without so much as a Countdown teapot as a thank you.

Well done, ITV.


Robin Carmody said...

The really depressing thing is that the Mirror has been reduced to this after, earlier in this decade, genuinely reviving its Cudlipp-era spirit, before Murdoch ruined everything.

And that ITV has been reduced to this, obviously.

Anonymous said...

"Ah. So they're going to cause a rift in her family life by sticking her on the telly."

God forbid anyone should start spreading this story online too, eh?

simon h b said...


You might notice that the Mirror story, and our take on it, doesn't offer any identifying details about the woman involved so it's not actually comparable to putting her face on teatime television.

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