I watched a bit of the new series of The X Factor last weekend. I'm not sure if I like the new format of having people audition in front of a studio audience. Part of me thinks it just provides a greater opportunity to humiliate people further.
I don't usually watch X Factor at this early audition stage, but I managed to catch some of the show when they were auditioning in Birmingham.
The X factor certainly seemed to be missing from many of the people auditioning in my home town.
As usual you have those people completely deluded about their own singing ability who you end up laughing at because they're so bad. The fact they're now performing in front of a studio audience means their humiliation is made even greater, but I can live with this.
My main problem is when the show starts parading what appear to be vulnerable people who are left open to ridicule. This was my thought last week, when one bloke by the name of Alan Walton appeared.
Alan a 50 year old Brummie had developed his singing voice in Karaoke, and dreamed of winning X Factor and touring the world as a rock star. Ok, so far so good.
I knew things were going to go down hill when Simon Cowell asked Alan where he was from. Instead of just saying Birmingham, he gave the name of the district he lived in before giving Simon a detailed guide of how to get there. All said in a thick Brummie accent that had me cringing!
If you watch the video, you can see that when the music begins for the Boyzone song he's chosen, he completely fails to come in on time, constantly looking at his watch before finally beginning to sing!
I say sing, it's more of a mumble to be honest. I later found out that he had the words written down on his arm so that he wouldn't forget them!
I have to admit I was laughing, but I thought what the hell is this bloke doing auditioning in front of thousands of people!
It's people like this that I would question whether they should really be appearing on such shows. At times he didn't seem to be quite 'with it'.
Secondly I'd like to know where his family and friends were? Why would they allow him to go on stage and be humiliated in that way?
The people at the pub or club where he 'sings' must have known what he was setting himself up for? You could ask this question of so many people who allow family and friends to audition for such programmes.
I think you have to draw a line somewhere, and not put people up for humiliation and ridicule where it is clear they don't have the emotional skills to deal with such a situation. I was reading this week that ITV presenters Ant and Dec said that children and vulnerable adults should not be barred from appearing on reality TV programmes.
Their argument was that if people want to appear on these shows then they should be able to. That's all very well but it doesn't mean to say that the appearance will be any good for them!
I know earlier in the year there was the issue of Susan Boyle and her appearance in Britain's Got Talent. Of course nobody knew how she would deal with the attention, but at least she had some singing talent.
The likes of Alan Walton have no singing talent. People like him represent the darker side of reality TV, you end up laughing but with a slight sense of guilt as you know you're laughing at the more vulnerable and less intelligent members of society.
I know part of the appeal of watching the X Factor auditions is seeing all those people who clearly can't sing, but you have to get the balance right. There's a fine line between laughing at people because of a lack of talent and laughing at people because they're being set up to look like complete idiots.