Some readers unfortunate enough to have small children who insist on the
television being on in mealtimes may have had the added misfortune this evening
of catching Teen Idol - a mass-somatic 'talent' show somewhere between reality
TV and a canned musical.
This evening, the little collective of wannabees were singing the INXS
classic "New Sensation". Most of them would be too young to remember INXS
front-man Michael Hutchence sing that song, but if any of them caught the
video-clip, they might have the good grace to hang their heads in shame at
their own performances.
Their problem is not so much their lack of talent (though that doesn't seem
to be in great supply), but with the system in which they are working. They
have some kind of weakest link elimination system (the details are not worth
investigating), in which the poorest performer gets the chop in each round.
Every soldier who has had the misfortune to become a POW knows the best
strategy to handle this kind of situation: become the gray man. Don't stand
out. Don't make yourself interesting. Don't draw attention to yourself. And most
of all, don't make mistakes!
And that's exactly what the Teen Idols do on the show: try desperately to
avoid making mistakes. The result? Self conscious teenagers trying to say on
key, make the right moves, and not miss anything.
Some of the audience might have seen Hutchence's performances, but he
didn't care if he made mistakes or not. As a result he may have made some, but
no one noticed in the dynamic and charismatic stage performance that became
INXS. He wasn't being judged by a committee who were about to eliminate him at
a wrong turn. On stage he was his own person, doing what he wanted to,
achieving his own goals, and doing it as wanted to in the way that satisfied
The average yobbo singing in the shower would be more entertaining than
these Gray-Idols, desperately trying to be uncharismatic, avoiding standing out
and following the best strategy for surviving in a group by keeping their heads
down. Not one of them is willing to go out on a limb, and do something really
interesting or display real energy because they have seen what happened to
their peers who stood out - they got the chop.
Of course when Hutchence wasn't achieving his goals any more and his
popularity began to wane, he hung himself naked on the door of a Sydney Hotel
room, leaving his daughter to be raised by terminal leftie no-hoper Bob
Maybe the Gray-Idols are best off following their collective script, and
then just getting on with their lives.