Tuesday, August 18, 2009

X Factor: Louis Walsh squares it in his head

They're doing the X Factor again this year, you know. This year, the "isn't he brave" patronisation will be turned full-force on Scott James. Scott has Asperger's Syndrome, and hadn't left the house for seven years. The noise you can hear is Simon Cowell's sweaty palms rubbing together, over and over.

Louis Walsh has his concerns:

When Walsh was asked if someone like James could take the strain of appearing on The X Factor, he said: "I don't think they can, if I'm honest.

"People don't realise the pressure that these acts are under, especially when they're competing with everybody else backstage. It's a very difficult show to do, even as a judge.

"It's very gruelling, and it's 10 weeks of very intense performance. Everything you say and do is being watched. It's like Big Brother meets Jerry Springer. It's a massive reality check for some people."

Let us just pause for a moment to wipe away the tears all of us are weeping at the thought of how tough the X Factor is for the poor, poor judges, and instead listen to what Louis is saying: that the X Factor puts people under too much pressure; more pressure than they can cope with.

Surely, then, the programme shouldn't go ahead? Or at least, if Louis Walsh had the courage of his convictions, he'd have nothing to do with it?

Unless... Louis, can you come up with an ethical workaround that will allow you to carry on drawing the massive paycheques?

'Course he can:
However, Walsh denied it was unfair to allow James to appear. "Nobody forces anybody to go to an audition," he said. "I think it's a real-life story. Is he under too much pressure? I think it has to be his choice."

Except, Louis, this doesn't actually work as a justification, does it? "It's a real-life story" isn't a justification for putting it on the television (and how real is it, anyway?)

More seriously, if Walsh is using the standard Cowell/Morgan line of "nobody forces them to audition", how does that square with his own admission that "people don't realise the pressure that these acts are under"? If nobody - least of all the participants - understand the pressures contestants are under, how can turning up at audition be considered to be informed consent?

From the Archives: No Minstrel Show Fun, May 1889:
... Mister Louis Walsh, whose role is to prod the exhibit when Lord Simon of Cowell is collecting gratuities from the audience, explained most forcefully that there was no compulsion upon Merrick to appear. "Sir, had he not wished to be the focus of the public gaze, he had to do nothing more than not accept the gift of a comb. No force prevailed upon him to join our travelling show other than free will. And that sack."...


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