Cami Hadley and the team over at Cable.tv have created an excellent infographic that summarizes the state of Reality TV singing competitions:
Created by www.Cable.tv
While this does an excellent job of showing the behind-the-scenes absurdity of big budget Reality TV shows, a better question is why is these types of shows are such big-budget events? People are competitive by nature, we compete for our jobs: raises, position promotions, trips to conferences, etc; we compete in our hobbies (sports, gambling, recreational games, even video games against competitors online); we even compete in our personal lives: for love, affection, attention of our family, significant others and friends (if unintentionally). So in that sense, I can see the draw of the Reality TV show concept.
However, it is also an undeniable fact that these shows are little more than “glorified Karaoke Competitions”. Personally, just like I’m not that interested in a particular subset of channels/shows that have been pre-selected for me by a TV Studio Executive, I’m not that interested in a very limited representation of only the most “camera-friendly” Karaoke singers. Often times, some of the most talented people are overlooked on these shows, and only rare cases like Carrie Underwood have gone on to mega success afterwards; though in her case its arguable that she would have found such success without her participation in the show. Instead, what I’d like to see is a truly global “Karaoke Competition” which allows people from all walks of life to participate. With over 10% of the population of the US now being Spanish-speakers (35 million) as their native language and millions of others speaking languages other than English (i.e. Chinese, French, German, Korean, etc), it would also be great to include a much more diverse range of musical styles and languages in such competitions. I’m picturing a meld of all the various “Idol” style shows now in production worldwide, or perhaps a “World Idol” format that hopefully brings countries and peoples together rather than dividing on musical tastes and preferences (lets hope WWIII would not be started by a disagreement over who should win “World Idol”, but I digress).
It gives me great pleasure though, to think of all the cases of people “making it”, not after their appearance on one of these tacky glorified karaoke competition shows, but after posting their talents online on sites like BC$ MobileTV (ok, not our’s exactly but online video sites in general, i.e. king of online video YouTube, just check the YouTube personalities list most of which enjoy more success than most Karaoke comp. participants and even finalists). On the other hand, we all know how that can go just as tacky and annoying as the Karaoke comps themselves, just ask Justin Bieber or Gangnam Style’s PSY if you don’t believe me. In general though, for each case of success after a Karaoke Competition TV show, there at least 10 or more cases of self-produced, self-promoted and self-generated success through one of the many venues available on the great equalizer of the internet.
In closing, I’d like to suggest that it would also be a good idea to get rid of the judges and donate their salaries to a good cause, I mean really do these “celebrities” need to be paid millions of dollars to sit there and put their thumbs up or down? I’ve got a better idea where they could put those thumbs. For instance, Simon Cowell’s total take is $75 million USD which is more than the bottom three countries in global GDP (Naura, Montserrat and Tuvalu). Instead, why not have color-commentary provided by random members of the audience or people calling in from home. I think that would make for a much more interesting show, and while it would take some coordination and filtering much like trying to create a PG-13 version of the comments section on YouTube (I’m certain we’d find everything from gracious praises to troll-like baiting and insults); wow, would it ever be interesting!
In the meantime, these shows will continue to enjoy their popularity and we’ll continue to work on the technology required to put a global internet TV show like “World Idol” together.
BC$ = Behavior, Content, Money
The goal of the BC$ project is to raise awareness and make changes with respect to the three pillars of information freedom - Behavior (pursuit of interests and passions), Content (sharing/exchanging ideas in various formats), Money (fairness and accessibility) - bringing to light the fact that:
1. We regularly hand over our browser histories, search histories and daily online activities to companies that want our money, or, to benefit from our use of their services with lucrative ad deals or sales of personal information.
2. We create and/or consume interesting content on their services, but we aren't adequately rewarded for our creative efforts or loyalty.
3. We pay money to be connected online (and possibly also over mobile), yet we lose both time and money by allowing companies to market to us with unsolicited advertisements, irrelevant product offers and unfairly structured service pricing plans.