A classicist watches Britain's Got Talent
Yes, I confess. The husband is away and I am catching up on stuff -- and I couldn't resist watching the final of BGT. I hadn't seen any of the previous parts, but I had heard of the Susan Boyle phenomenon, and just today I had caught up with Hollie Steel, aged 10, crying on stage in the semi-finals.
I had a pretty clear view of the whole process, Not so very different from the display of 'cripples', 'freaks' or 'exotic foreigners' in nineteenth-century spectacles (or from gladiatorial shows, for that matter), this was another version of mass-market exploitation of the disadvantaged. How could people -- or a parent -- subject a 10 year old child to that?
So it was with the intention of enjoying some righteous indignation that I switched on.
By the end of the show, I decided I would vote.
Some acts were ruled out. I wasn't going to vote for a solo child, which eliminated a good number. And I wasn't all that keen on the trans-generational bonding that some acts seemed to parade. Could a young girl REALLY want to sing with her grand-dad?
So I came down to a final three for my vote: "Diversity" because they seemed very slick and supple (and because I fell for the multi-ethnic image and title); Susan Boyle because I couldn't bear to think how awful it would be for her NOT to win; and Julian Smith because I liked the hard luck story and because playing the sax did at least mean learning a real musical skill (not just singing cutely).
I then ruled out Boyle because the exploitation of a women with learning difficulties didnt seem that much different from exploiting a 10 year old. And when it came to the choice between Diversity and the sax player -- I went with the sax player on grounds of LEARNING.
A very academic choice I thought. And I turned on to see who the great British public had voted for. And, believe it or not, the top three in the phone in poll were exactly mine, even if the final order was a bit different (Diversity followed by Boyle, followed by Smith).
I wasn't being academic at all, it turned out -- that was how the whole voting country had thought.
And talking of voting, not more Euro election stuff has come, so I have ushed my ballot papers in their envelope, And, yes, I have spoiled my Euro ballot. I wrote across the very large ballot paper words to the effect of "As I have received no information about any of these apart for the Greens and UKIP, I cannot exercise my vote responsibly".
It's not going to make any difference, but it's true.