Pictures in an Empty Room: The Talent Show

Filed under: Special Coverage

The interviews. The rehearsals. Backstage segments. Countless recaps. The biographies. Celebrity special appearances. Product placement. The judges. The scores. The voting. The ridiculously long commercials. And worst of all, the elongated elimination segments that attempt to build tension and suspense. These are all the elements of the modern talent show that I can not stand.

But between all this filler material, is some good stuff that I do want to see. I admit, I enjoyed watching Susan Boyle sing, or even seeing Chris Jericho dance. But I also shamelessly confess that I absolutely love watching the embarrassing failures that foolishly get themselves onto a talent show. I can watch magic tricks gone wrong, or Donald Bell-Gam's never-ending singing train-wreck all day and not get tired.

I am also one of those millions of people that like to go on YouTube to search for the talent show. I usually search for the talent show name, and either "best" or "worst," to find what uploaders consider to be the most entertaining auditions there are. I have never watched a full episode of any talent show before. If it were not for the uploaded videos, then I would probably not have taken any interest in the modern talent shows. Because of these uploaders, I am now awed by Lilia Stepanova combining gymnastics and archery, and laughing with much cruelty at the Roxette (How Do You Do?) dance disaster. I find myself appreciative of the people that have taken the time to make these videos, and to share them with the world.

Half a life-time ago, when Mike and I were taking a mass media class together in high school, we were introduced to the concept of the soundbite. We learned that as the decades have gone by, news on the television gradually showed shorter and shorter interviews. The lesson that we were taught, was that our news would eventually be delivered to us in soundbites, and that we should be aware of the consequences of this trend.

With the availability of user uploaded video websites like YouTube, I am going to take an opposite stance. I welcome the soundbite. Or in this case, the short video clips. Why? Because I like to choose what I want to watch whenever I want. I have no intention of wasting my time wading through filler material. And judging from the number of clips available on YouTube, and the millions of views, I am not the only one that feels this way. In the context of the soundbite, it is not the consumers of the mass media who need to be concerned about getting their news or entertainment in small clips. It is those who are responsible for the production and delivery of these shows that should to be concerned. They need to realize that their shows have too much filler material, and focus on making a show that is worth watching in its entirety.

Tags: Pictures in an Empty Room, The Talent Show, America's Got Talent, Britan's Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars, Susan Boyle, Chris Jericho, Roxette, YouTube, reality TV

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