Saturday, June 15 2024

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.

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