It’s written “talent show,” but it’s read "moment of fame." The ingredients are always the same: a television format that works, some fight in the studio, a beautiful face that pierces the screen and a small presumed talent, and for some months success is guaranteed.
Then time passes, the drawer of dreams recloses and the evanescent glory no longer remains.
For years now, television broadcasters around the world have been offering the talent show of the times. From X-Factor, to Tú si che vales, to Master chef, not much has changed. We have gone from the “spectacularization” of life to a life to be “spectacularized” to be someone.
Thanks to the simplicity with which we can make ourselves visible, it is inevitable that many may improvise talents: downloading, posting, and sharing is so easy that now you are used to putting up with anything you see, while scrolling on the screen of your computer or cell phone. You get to dedicate time and attention to anything that is put under your nose just due to how easy and quick it is to do it.
Nothing bad and nothing new, anyone is looking for success and if you have mediocre talents but have a beautiful face, you may be tempted toward the easiest way to achieve success. A little self-branding on social platforms and you're done: you become a star!
It is not exactly like that, we all know it, and those who take part in these programs also know it. But the illusion of achieving success in a short time is quite fascinating, especially to youth who have unconsciously taken on the ideas of the "influencer model." The web has created the greatest illusion: everyone has the possibility to reach the peak of success. Too bad that nobody declares with just as much clarity and lucidity that at the apex there is often too little time to really be remembered.
Consumerism, even of television products, easily consumes success and relegates those who have talent but not perseverance into oblivion.
Talent show: a fashion that soon goes out of style
In the early 90s, boy bands were the stuff of fans' hearts. Tickets sold for their tours were almost always unavailable and expensive. Captivating lyrics; the songs were played through every single radio and music channel, first and foremost MTV. In the background there were all guys with beautiful faces, melodious voices and a choreographer who took care of the movements for the music videos.
Nowadays music is almost no longer a valued element that feeds and convey a person’s life, but rather a mass media and economic artifice: the songs are successful when they receive millions of views, when they blow up and make people hit the floor of the dance club. At this point it is clear how producers and record companies, as well as broadcasters, all have interests in creating ad hoc talents that can resonate and guarantee substantial profits, regardless of what they offer to the public, to build the stars whose success is closely linked to an economic investment, often with a precise duration of time.
Better then that they are boy bands, winners of talent shows, web phenomena that swap the renunciation to express their personality and the sense of their being musicians with the possibility of obtaining fame and visibility; better if they are young people who give up their rights or musical editions by signing captive contracts and singing pieces written by others; better if they are artists - perhaps initially sincere - who bend the vital force of their dreams to the laws of the market. This is precisely the problem: if music coincides with a market, it ends up being reduced to a form devoid of content, an accumulation of trends that follow one another in a sad mechanism in which each one devours the previous one, leaving nothing but a nice melody or in this case, a record collection. The genuine emotions of which music is a privileged carrier are easily stifled by transforming the pure freshness of a talent into an arid instrument that winks at easy gains.
Talent show: those who thought they had done it
So many names have alternated on the evanescent stage of television shows. So many characters arrived at the height of success and then plunged back into the darkness of anonymity, perhaps still achieving success in life but without being on the crest of the media wave.
This is the case of Leon Jackson, winner of X-Factor UK 2006, who was forgotten almost before he even started. Television and the media can be both kind and cruel in equal measure. Sometimes winning is not enough if the magic ingredient that makes a real star is missing. Some remain successful characters while others quickly sink into oblivion, and unfortunately for those who think of becoming someone, not all winners remain so long.
In Italy, one of the most striking examples comes from the first edition of Big Brother. Its participants have had stories and lives quite different from those that were expected: Cristina Plevani, the winner, now a cashier in a supermarket, the second in order of liking, Salvo Veneziano, his colleague, after the various TV lounges has found himself making his dream a reality and today he owns 17 pizzerias. Of course there are those who were doing it like the late Pietro Taricone who, after starting his career as an actor, was the victim of a fatal accident.
And across the Ocean, things are not going any better. Of course, the American star system is full of young saplings that have established themselves thanks to participation in a television program, but there are also those who become quickly forgotten.
And in the homeland of "everything is possible," ironically, many people were "rejected" by the talent shows and then succeeded anyway based on their singing skills.
Christina Aguilera is a striking example, who at nine years was discarded, and then became the pop princess and won several awards. Britney Spears did not win "Star Search," but has become one of the most famous people on the planet. Were they just lucky? Or was their talent not enough for the show? Sometimes fate is mocking, and I wonder if any record producer is not majorly regretting decisions they made in the past. The reality and talent shows can be stepping stones, but life and what you reserve are not so predictable, that's why you should approach these television formats giving it the right weight: that of a "game" in which to have fun and be known but while keeping your feet on the ground for better or for worse all the while.
True art never goes out of style
It may seem rhetorical, but this awareness is necessary to attempt at least the construction of an alternative paradigm. It is not a matter of canceling an established phenomenon like that of the talent shows, but of noticing how they favor the diffusion of an erroneous message: to make believe that to be true valid artists, a captivating look and a clean voice are sufficient. There is a need for a strong, authentic art that contributes to forming our characters, that expresses values and that guides our passions with sincerity.
We need to give voice to the hidden talents that pulsate underground. We need true and immortal art.