The Vex Factor: Why Simon Cowell's fleeting cameo proves the once great X Factor has lost its way

Gary Barlow might be resigning. Louis Walsh has insulted Adele. And the king of the show only pops in occasionally. This fan says she's had enough

Share
Related Topics

There was a time when Simon Cowell could do no wrong. King of reality TV, he did what he wanted, said what he wanted and wore what he wanted. Christ, he even got away with those high-waisted trousers to the adoring, if not slightly mocking sighs of his loving public.

Any controversy linked to his empire in any way like, for example, the rumoured resignation of a certain Gary Barlow and a blasting from Louis Walsh towards Adele for daring to take a whole month off after giving birth, may no longer be shrugged off as it once might have done.

Now before you start pitying the media mogul, don’t. He is still far richer and far more successful than you and I will ever be (unless, Justin Bieber, you are reading this).

But somehow, he just doesn’t command the same level of autonomy over us as he once did.

Fabricated

Take the X-Factor; arguably the show that made him the household name he is today. Now in its ninth series here in the UK, and with international versions all over the world, it just no longer cuts it like it used to.

I feel qualified in making the judgments I am about to make because this is the first year I have actively decided not to watch it. And so, being removed from the imprisoning structure of the show that selfishly demands you give both your Saturday and Sunday night’s to the ‘singing’ competition, instead looking on as an un-biased bystander having removed the rose-tinted, Syco-branded glasses, I can see clearly now, like a young Johnny Nash.

Yes, I can see clearly now that the X-Factor, quite frankly, takes the mick, surviving mainly on a style-over-substance format. Ad-breaks after every single performer, who on a good day won’t sing a complete song and on a bad one can’t; judges who are remembered more for commenting on each other’s breath than the acts they’re supposed to make memorable, and can you believe that One Direction (sigh, swoon, shamazing) were pre-recorded yet introduced as live when they performed a couple weeks back?

You may well be wondering how, for someone who claims to be over the X-Factor, I know so much about the shenanigans going on this year. It’s quite simple, really. For despite the falling ratings which seem to be dropping further each week, it still commands an over-bearing presence in the media. It’s as if viewing figures don’t really give an indication of how (un) interested most of us are in the fabricated show anymore. We don’t want to watch it but please, let us read about it. I think not. The irony of this article is not, I can assure you, lost on me.

Respect

But Simon Cowell, puppeteer extraordinaire, is largely behind it all. Constantly bemoaning the embarrassing ratings and making desperate promises for surprises in the finale (One Direction are really going to perform live this time – phew), it seems that we cannot escape the show that is, quite frankly past its sell by date, even if we wanted to. Even I, by writing this article, am paradoxically adding to the media circus I am desperately trying to downplay.

We may have been malleable whilst we were still naïve enough to know any better, Simon, but if we’re no longer interested in a brand that is a little too in love with itself, what makes you think ramming it down our throats further is going to have any positive outcomes? You are, I’m afraid, perpetuating the failing ratings by mimicking the very worst aspects of the show – too much talk and not enough action.

If you really want to put your money where your mouth is Simon, give the inaugural show that made you who you are today a little more respect than a fleeting cameo. I’m willing to bet that your return to the judging panel of where it all began would send the ratings back in the One Direction you used to take for granted.

React Now

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

Sustainability Assessor

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Sustainability Assessor...

Music Teacher

£110 - £150 per day + Mileage and Expenses: Randstad Education Leeds: We are l...

A Level Chemistry Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Part-time A Level Chemist...

Teaching Assistant

£12000 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Secondary Teaching ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

August catch-up: second languages, the secret of love and is it all right to call someone stupid?

John Rentoul
High and mighty: Edinburgh Castle and city skyline  

i Editor's Letter: We're coming to Edinburgh

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?