OPINION: ‘Talent’ and ‘Presenter’ Search TV shows – How is That Still a Thing?

Published On May 12, 2015 | Music & Culture

TV: The Beauty Pageant That Never Wishes for World Peace

By Anton Marshall

By Anton Marshall

Reports have it that American Idol is coming to an end – Fox apparently has canned it. And this got me wondering whether we’ve finally grown tired of the pop machine eating itself.

The concept of a “reality” show that supposedly sets out to cast presenters or music stars is a rusty old screw. And – not to put too fine a point on it – the viewing and buying public are the ones being worked.

Perhaps my thinking on this is wrong (it’s not – heh), but using the public to do a producer’s job is cheap and nasty. It’s basically saying to the public: “Hey, you are going to do my job for me (casting and conceiving a show/product/star) and pay me for the privilege. I’ll even let you think that you have some sort of say in it.” And then proceeding to show people the process of doing what you say you’re going to let them do.

In the case of a particular “Presenter Search” currently on air here in South Africa, the “winners” of the show will eventually become presenters on that TV channel. It is unclear which shows they will host once selected – presumably they will be farmed out to one of the channel’s flagship programmes like the breakfast show or its lifestyle advertorial.

Maybe that explains why local channels struggle to produce a local TV show that is actually interesting and engaging to its intended audience (unless its intended audience is who they say it isn’t). In many cases, our local actuality and presenter-focused shows carry little sincerity, just a script and a vacuous, interchangeable, fill-in-the-blanks “presenter”. An opinion that may or may not be shared, but my view, for what it’s worth. Who cares about actual useful, meaningful television, insight and commentary; As long as they look good and sound slick, right?

Maybe, as one of my media colleagues put it: “‪The ‘Prize’ is not a TV Presenting Job. The ‘Prize’ is pseudo-celebritydom.” By that understanding, the whole shandangle  is reduced to little more a beauty pageant, and nobody even has to claim to want World Peace.

All of which begs the question… if the grand ol’ dame of “talent search” shows is being binned, does it signal a possible growing distaste for its ripoffs? Heaven forbid, will pseudo-celebrities actually have to earn their stripes with knowledge-of-subject, over and above superficial skill and talent, and not rely on the revenue generating vote-baits of SMS and social media currency?  Will Jon Oliver soon be be able to ask without a hint of irony: “Talent searches – How is that still a thing?”  We shall see.

Like this Article? Share it!