Friday, May 29, 2009

Britain's Got Talent

So we're approaching the end of what's been the most highly-publicised Britain's Got Talent contest ever (the grand final is tomorrow). I've not been following this series too closely, but I read a line from an article on the CNN website a couple of days ago that really inspired me to type up a few thoughts about it all:
"There are five semi-finals..."

That makes absolutely no sense! I just can't get over that - five semi-finals? That's like when people describe themselves as “half-man, half-machine, half-time bomb!” - the maths makes me weep. The correct sentence should presumably be:

"There are five fifth-finals..."

Dodgy arithmetic aside, what little I've seen of this year's Britain's Got Talent I have kind of enjoyed. I admire the show for trying to bring variety back onto television, which is something that, aside from the Royal Variety Performance, hasn't been done proper for about twenty/thirty years. And I'm GUTTED that Darth Jackson isn't going to get the opportunity to impress the Queen, especially as I was convinced that it was going to be Burial under that mask. Who'd have thought that the synergy of 80s pop stars and the Star Wars mythos would work so well? Hopefully it'll catch on and next year we can look forward to Spandau Skywalker.

That's not to say that this season hasn't had its fair share of problems, most notably very early on when Simon Cowell hired Kelly Brook as a fourth judge. Giving a job on one of his talent shows to someone that he fancied worked with Dannii Minogue, Cheryl Cole and Kara DioGuardi, but it seems Cowell finally hit a wall when he employed Kelly Brook, largely because, as anyone who saw her in Smallville can testify, Kelly Brook doesn't have much in the way of talent (bless her).

I never had the pleasure of seeing her judge any of the regional auditions, but I would hazard a guess that the main problem was that, for every act, Kelly thought "Wow! I could never do that! They must be really talented!" and refused to buzz. Which ultimately ruined the entire point of the judging process.

I also kind of like how Britain's Got Talent occasionally insists on going under the acronym "BGT", because, in my mind, I always read it as "Bisexual Gay Transgender". All they need to do now is rename their unedited episodes "Britain's Got Talent... Live!" then go by the nickname BGTL and they'll have the complete set.

However, there's something about Bisexual Gay Transgender that I just can't get on board with. Maybe it's those demeaning buzzer sounds that echo every time Simon Cowell's sick of seeing a contortionist bend his way through a toilet seat; maybe it's the baying crowd that unsympathetically chants "Off!" whenever a singer misses a high note; maybe it's the slightly arrogant nature of the show's title (personally, I think it would be greatly improved with a question mark and some italics, e.g. "Britain's Got Talent?").

Or maybe it's because BGT's committed the cardinal sin of making me like Piers Morgan.
Because, as it turns out, he's all right really.

Incidentally, I'm putting together my own reality TV show, where people called Brian display their various talents to a studio audience in order to compete for an opportunity to perform in front of the royal family. Any ideas for what I could call it?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Swine flu

Like "G20 summit," "Quantitative easing" and "Susan Boyle", "swine flu" looks set to become one of the buzz phrases of 2009. They say that it's a variant strand of bird flu, but I'll believe that when pigs fly*. Everyone's up in arms about it, with predictions that, I dunno, 10% of all humanity will be wiped out by the simple act of sow catching a cold.

Personally, I'm trying not to let it bother me. There's nothing that we can really do about it as individuals anyway, aside from making sure that we now sneeze into handkerchiefs rather than the faces of strangers. Besides, this is pretty much exactly what happened with bird flu, and SARS before that, and anthrax before that (kind of), and foot-and-mouth before that, and CJD before that. Predicting the dissolution of mankind seems to hold something of a morbid fascination for a large proportion of people, and it extends beyond just killer diseases.

Meteorite? Tidal waves? Tornadoes? That volcano in Yellowstone National Park is well overdue for an eruption... Obviously, nobody really can be sure of how humanity is going to be wiped out, but, from what I can discern, the popular theory is that one world leader is going to make some disparaging remark about some other world leader's mother, and that's going to result in us all blowing each other up.

I'm holding the belief that none of the above hypotheses will turn out to be true. My theory is that all men in the Western world will each render themselves sterile from radiation after years of keeping their mobile phones in their trouser pockets, then we'll all be dead in a single generation.

But, hey, if we are going to slowly wiped out by swine flu, at least we can look forward to a new track from M.I.A., and some potentially very funny public service announcements:

(Obviously, my heart goes out to anyone who has been affected by swine flu, and I don't mean to seem like I'm belittling the situation.)

Everyone's been making this joke.