Well, not exactly. There’s not denying that the frumpy Blackburn resident is legit. There’s no denying her impressive singing ability. What the article takes issue with is the perceived audience manipulation on the part of the Britain’s Got Talent producers, and Simon Cowell in particular. “There is the clip itself, suspiciously ready-made for online consumption,”writes Callahan. “A 7-minute movie, slick and pithy in its perfect execution of the underdog narrative.”
Yeah, what’s with THAT?! You’re going to tell me they just happened to have the cameras rolling when she walked on stage and started singing? And they just happen to have an orchestra on hand to play musical accompaniment? And, coincidentally, there were producers there who had access to a post-production facility that allowed them to edit together a 7-minute movie for “online consumption”. Hmmmmm. Seems mighty fishy to me. Next thing you’ll tell me is that Cloverfield wasn’t a documentary!
Like a thirty year old woman who has just discovered Santa Claus isn’t real, the writer makes her case:
“But the notion that Cowell was unaware of Boyle’s existence, let alone discordant looks and talent level, before she ever took the stage, is flatly ridiculous.”
“And the song Boyle chose – if she, in fact, chose it – so seamlessly provides the meta-narrative that it’s easy to miss how calculated it is.”
Er, um, so? This is “reality television” we’re talking about and, unless you’ve been living under a rock (without cable or satellite reception) for the past 10+ years, you’d know that the “reality” part of the term is a misnomer. In truth, reality programming full of genuine and occasionally surprising moments – all skillfully produced and slickly packaged for mass consumption. Does that make these moments any less “real”? Well, that’s arguable. Like I said, the possibility that the show’s producers may have tweaked the circumstances of Boyle’s performance by either playing up her stodgy image or steering her toward a more on-theme song choice is neither here nor there. Her performance was surprisingly good, it was a great story, and the production capitalized on the event.
That’s show business. I very much doubt that the writer of the piece isn’t aware of how it works. And that’s what annoyed me about her article. She is quick to criticize what she sees as audience manipulation and yet, at the same time, her piece is guilty of doing just that – first by hooking readers with a misleading title that hints at scandal, then offering up a list of painfully obvious insights which, in her mind (and no doubt in the mind of every other television viewer who believes the actors on that CSI show just show up on set and make up their dialogue as they go along), suggest a dark conspiracy.
So every two or three years, I’ll drop by my local comic book store, pick up one of every title on the racks, bring them home and read them. If I like what I’m reading, I’ll purchase the follow-up issue. If I don’t, I move on. I repeat the process until I lose interest in that final title, drop it, and redirect my attention to alternate hobbies like reiki or learning to play King of the Road on the didgeridoo.
Well, over the past month or so I’ve discovered many, many titles. Most failed to impress. A few have, however, managed to spark my interest. Continuing with those books I’ve enjoyed…
Joker’s Asylum: Penguin – Writer: Jason Aaron, Artist: Jason Pearson
This one came out almost a year ago and it’s a one-shot (meaning no follow-up) but I include it here because it was that damn good. I’m a big fan of villains and, while The Penguin has never topped my list of favorites, this particular tale humanizes the habitually cartoonish Oswald Cobblepot. Writer Jason Aaron offers us a glimpse of the vulnerable little boy behind the infamous persona in a story that is both touching and surprising. Frequent contributor to this blog Dasndanger recommended Aaron several weeks ago (in relation to his work on Wolverine). Well, after this book, I’m sold!
Wolverine: The Anniversary – Writer: William Harms, Artist: Jefte Palo.
Speaking of Wolverine, another one-shot finds our anti-hero returning to Japan to honor pay respect to his late love Mariko. Of course, trouble tends to follow him everywhere – in this case aboard a commercial airliner. It’s a fairly standard story but well-executed. And surprisingly visceral. Mutilations abound! Since when did comics become so violent?
The Amazing Spiderman #592: Writer: Mark Waid, Pencils: Mike McKone
And speaking of terrific writers “Welcome to Spiderman, Mr. Waid”. I picked up the preceding issues of this book and, while in no way offensive, they failed to impress. I was about to drop the title when I caught Waid’s name on the cover. He has been a favorite of mine (I ran into him in an elevator at Comic Con a couple of years ago and in my fan boyish delirium gifted him a bunch of Stargate swag) and his time on The Flash is among my favorite runs. Oh, and there was a little something called Kingdom Come he did a few years ago that makes my Top 5 Graphic Novels Of All Time list. As for this particular Spiderman story – well, Waid has a gift for storytelling, from the quick wit of his dialogue to the tightness of his plotting to the timing of his dramatic reveals, it all comes together perfectly. Hopefully, he’s sticking around. If not, I’m moving with him.
The Flash #244-247 – Writer: Alan Burnett, Pencillers: Various
Hmmm. It all reads very young and I didn’t think I’d continue past the first issue, but there’s something about it that captured my interest and kept me hooked. After careful consideration, I’m thinking it’s the relationship between Wally and Linda that gives it the emotional resonance that allows it to transcend its more juvenile trappings. Though now, with Wally and Linda presumably out of the picture (Yes? No?), I wonder if I’ll be sticking it out.
X-Men: Magneto Testament: #1-3 (of 5) – Writer: Greg Pak, Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico
And, on the opposite side of the spectrum is this very adult tale that delves into the backstory of arch-villain Magneto, tracing his humble beginnings as a young Jewish boy growing up in Germany during the rise of the Third Reich. Gut-wrenching and powerful.
Well, that’s it. Tomorrow, I’ll be hitting the long overdue mailbag so if you’ve been sitting on some questions, now is the time to post them. Also, time permitting, I’ll be giving you a glimpse of the Icarus Base…