We really must stop heaping praise upon the ordinary
There was a featured performer on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent tonight. It was the last act to be aired, and given that there was quite a bit of personal bio about him, it was pretty obvious the bloke was going to be a big winner of the heat. He’s a Welsh bricklayer: a self-taught and reasonably competent guitar strummer with a voice vaguely reminiscent of Joe Cocker having an off day. The guy came on, sang a brief extract badly, and was then asked by the Almighty Judge of all things musical Simon Cowell if he had “any other songs” with him today. Nodding in the manner of a grinning emoticon, the wannabe megastar muttered something and began to play another melody.
This was the cue for the entire audience to go into orgasmic rapture about his ‘obvious’ talent, a reality hitherto hidden but unearthed nevertheless by the unfailing insight of Sage Simon the A&R genius. It was “a big fat yes” from Walliams, “a massive yes” from some dancing judge bint I’d never heard of, and a “wow knockout yes yes yes” from the blonde Bimbo Amanda Holden. All four judges stood up to pay their ridiculously po-faced tribute to Taffy the Brickie: it was clear beyond any reasonable doubt that a star had been born.
The whole tableau was obviously staged, but I would wager that over 75% of the viewers would hotly contest such a conclusion. We should nevertheless bear in mind that this is roughly the same discerning Brit audience who declared Nick Clegg to be the Messiah after just one TV debate performance in April 2010. Whatever I or you or any other bugger might think of Welsh bricklayer Robbie Kennedy (left), Simon Cowell has predicted he will have a Number One hit, and so his immediate future is assured.
After that, naturally, he will fade from view forever, to reappear perhaps once a few years hence in a Sunday newspaper, bleating about My drugs and depression Hell after BGT triumph.
Cowell’s appalling ego-vehicle BGT shows little sign of losing its popularity, a fact I must grudgingly accept as a decisive signal suggesting that Britain has got not so much talent as a terminal case of turd-adoration. I don’t think for a second that Robbie Kennedy is a turd – in truth, he struck me as a self-effacingly decent chap about to be burnt to death in the fleeting flames of flash-fame: but Six-Pack Simon is the dentally perfect personification of Fool Britannia. His admirers are the same pillocks who think Boris Johnson is a damned good bloke with the common touch.
Over the last three decades, the Brits have somehow managed to persuade themselves that a one-dimensional sponge like David Cameron is a worthy resident of Ten Downing Street. They thought Tony Blair “a safe pair of hands”. And as the last, mercilessly tedious fortnight has demonstrated, half of them regard the late Margaret Thatcher as a Saint, the other half as the Devil’s Daughter….a result suggesting that almost nobody in the United Kingdom is capable of judging who she really was.
So I shouldn’t be surprised that Britain’s Got Talent reflects a fundamental shift in our behaviour. You see, previously we celebrated the eccentric and admired the special….but in the end, always supported the underdog. Today, we see an extra in the ordinary, celebrate the perverse….and always vote for the underwhelming.
I still retain a sense that massive adversity will knock this lachrymose appreciation of banality out of us. In fact, although I recognise no God, I pray for it.