Simon Cowell is bored of sob stories. Are you?

Perhaps we are entering a new cold front in our emotional weather

Share
Related Topics

His heart a lump of gristle, his eyes empty, his tear ducts bone dry.  Like a priest after one confessional too many, Simon Cowell has declared the retirement of his sympathetic faculties from all further duty. “I am bored of these sob stories now”, he informed a Britain’s Got Talent contestant on the weekend. “I’ve heard it before”. And so we enter a new cold front in the weather of sentiment. The man who ushered personal suffering on to centre stage, who made it relevant to how one song is separated from another, has told the 13m or so viewers of BGT and the millions more of X Factor that all that counts now is whether you can hit a high C under the spotlight. Baggage? Darling, leave it in the wings.

It’s a relief, which it probably shouldn’t be, as I don’t watch the show. But even from the topmost tower in my Fortress of Snootiness you could spot the trend towards advertisement of pain. Mr Cowell - who is to social workers what Dr Who is to the medical profession - has seen some catalogue of hardship over the years. In September there were signs of compassion fatigue: “We had a guy recently on Got Talent who just ran on and said ‘I’ve got cancer’, like it’s fantastic news’, Cowell fretted. “That’s the world we live in”. Well it might be Sir, I replied to my TV, but you were its midwife.

This is only half right. For all the foregrounding of his artists’ backstories, Mr Cowell only provided the popular desire for an emotional cattleprod with an hour-long slot on ITV. He channelled the taste of the nation as much as changed it. An earlier wave of high feeling broke in the 18 century, with The Vicar of Wakefield (1766) heralding a flood of sentimental novels that caused critics to despair about the rise of tearful sensationalism. (Particularly sensitive readers were known to faint mid-sentence).

You can be as superior as you like about the X Factor and at the same time rubberneck freely at the misfortunes of major artists. I like to imagine them crossing Simon Cowell’s stage. George Eliot: “I have to pretend I’m a man to have anyone take me seriously”. Van Gogh: “Nobody gets me”. Milton: “I’m blind as three mice”. J K Rowling: “I can’t afford central heating”. As long as we have had noses we’ve put them where they don't necessarily belong. This can deepen an appreciation of art, or complicate it.

The only conclusion is that the work should be looked at before the life is picked at. Sob stories were presented as an introduction on Britain’s Got Talent; maybe now they will retire to where they belong - behind the talent, not doing a forlorn tap-dance in front of it.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yvette Cooper campaigning in London at the launch of Labour’s women’s manifesto  

I want the Labour Party to lead a revolution in family support

Yvette Cooper
Liz Kendall  

Labour leadership contest: 'Moderniser' is just a vague and overused label

Steve Richards
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine