The Real Reason We All (Rightly) Hate The X-Factor

Britain’s latest answer to the Victorian travelling freak shows is slowly limping towards its climax with a tedious inevitability. Yes, it’s The X-Factor (ITV 1) which, despite apparently losing about 2 million viewers a season, seems to just about be holding on to its customary grip over this country’s media outlets and our collective consciousness.

It’s the same boring charade every year, with the same tired formula. A show where morons can laugh at the mentally disturbed, weep as they hear how each of the however many finalists have 6 family members suffering from cancer each, and all blissfully ignore the fact that every episode lowers their IQ by an average of 2-5 points.

You don’t need to look too hard to find an opinion on the show. There are those who love it, who think it’s the greatest thing that’s ever been beamed into our living rooms. And there are those who utterly despise it, making no attempt to hide the fact that they hate it.

I used to belong firmly in the second camp. For a while I even developed a habit of sitting fans down and presenting them with PowerPoint presentations full of analysis on each little bit that I disliked. Until I tried the controversial tactic of simply, I don’t know… ignoring it? But that’s beside the point.

So why do we hate The X-Factor? The fact is it’s nothing more complicated than it’s become a gross parody of itself. Take for example, this guy Ryan, or Dylan, or whatever his name is. You know, the one who keeps crying over everything? He keeps going through, the moody judge on the right-hand side of the table hates him, and… wait a minute. This all seems weirdly familiar.

Because the producers have put the now-traditional crap act in the live shows. Ever since those two little rodents a couple of years ago, there now seems a need to make it some sort of tradition. They’ve even gone so far as to copy the ‘judge has a vendetta against crap act’ thing that seemed to gather so much publicity the first time. And we all lap it up, returning to it year after year like an abused wife going back to her spouse because he totally still loves her.

This is by no means the only example. How many series have gone by with literally a few people reading about the judges fixing the results, or cruelty to the contestants, or a fat girl throwing a bitch fit in the auditions because she was quite rightly told that her rendition of ‘Poker Face’ gargles more balls than a teenage girl in a South London comprehensive? It’s exactly the same show every time, people!

All that’s happening is that people on the show are noticing what gains media attention and reciting it verbatim in every following series. Feuding judges? That’s in there. One of the contestants goes missing? Yup. Whoever’s hosting it this week gets in a fight with the judges over a stupidly trivial matter? You guessed it. Contestants have drink/ drugs/ daddy issues? Surprisingly, no. Only kidding! Of course it’s in there! Oh, you should have seen your face…

They couldn’t even help themselves when Mr Burns got bored and went to play with his American shows. They just got the fat one from Take That to take his place and play exactly the same character, even though he’s about as threatening as a tea towel with the word ‘Boo!’ written on it.

At first, I suppose I could see how this sort of thing might be considered controversial, or fun to watch, but surely even the most fanatic of X-Factor fans has to admit that maybe now it’s wearing a tad thin? Or are we all so far in denial that we see what’s happening but refuse to admit it?

Look, it’s not the worst show on television. That honour goes to A League Of Their Own, or How I Met Your Mother (that Friends-plagiarising load of shit…). But for the sake of mine and everyone else’s sanity, can we not just take it out back and go all Old Yeller on it?

Apparently the guy’s name is Rylan, so… that’s nice.


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