Saturday, April 25, 2009

Britain's Got (Writing) Talent

I saw Britain's Got Talent tonight, for, I think, the first time. It's not being snobby. I catch as much pop culture as anyone with a TV and spare time is likely to. In many ways its better to watch at least a bit of this, as its the show itself which is the entertainment - rather than the detritus that comes after: the cover versions, the albums, the ironic commentaries. At least the show itself is exemplary. Even the professionals on the show; Ant and Dec, Piers and Amanda, Simon Cowell; are as one with the contestants. They are amateurs in their own way. Ant & Dec clearly remember their own successful, but illusory pop career, Amanda Holden has dim recollection of once being an actor, Piers an editor.

What was interesting, of course, was how, despite the show's manipulations (like all reality shows), the real genius is in the unexpected. 10-year old girl? Fine. Troupe of 20 or so street dancers. Go for it. 62 year old with a death wish. If you must. Lithe girl in a big wheel. Yep. Such democratisation is brilliant. Think if this was a writing contest: "entrants need to be over 16 (no 10-year old), under 50 (no 62-year old), a maximum of 5 collaborators (no dance troupe), and must write a story in 1500 words or less, double spaced (probably no big wheel then.)" Yes, literature's not a variety performance... but thinking again, maybe it should be. A literary Britain's got talent would compare comic books with screenplays with poetry with prose with the unfathomable. It wouldn't make good tele, and the 2-minute gong might not work either ("Well, its 1000 pages long and called Making of the Americans...shall I start at the beginning? "). But it would probably make for more interesting reading.

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