Christmas Number 1: Does Anyone Actually Care About the X Factor Any More?

Everyone remembers the year that Rage Against the Machine’s oh-so-festive ‘Killing in The Name Of’ reached Christmas number one in 2009. To hear that X Factor competitor Joe McElderry was pipped to the post through the collective power of a mere Facebook campaign was both triumphant and exhilarating. A symbolic and collective challenge to the usually accepted fact that X Factor will endeavour to gain Christmas number one regardless, it raises the question of whether anyone actually cares about X Factor any more?

Although the great campaign happened two Christmases ago now, it stood as an example of the undeniably mundane predictability behind the X Factor and how through its repetitive qualities society was finally beginning to see through its superficiality. Always die hard anti-X Factor, I saw like many others, but not enough others, a despicable popularity contest based not on musical talents but simply quirks and drama surrounding the contestants. There’s always the rumours that the X Factor is fixed and of course we will never know for sure, but it increasingly feels as though the X Factor is a show that is so consumed and reliant upon drama and not talent as its main selling point. Quite often this drama it is not limited simply the contestants these days, it is the judges also. It has come to the point where the X Factor has stooped beyond the level of a mere popularity contest between deluded, wannabe singers pathetically eager for their moment of fame, so much of the controversy and hype is now based around the judges also. I remember the claims that Irish judge Louis Walsh only let duo Jedward through due to them too being Irish. In this sense it would seem that the phrase “Any publicity is good publicity” holds strong with the X Factor.

Society will always follow controversial hype and X Factor loves its controversial hype. It is really, the only thing that is keeping it alive these past couple of years as the viewing figures continue to fall. The feigned emotional moments, the faked smiles, the bright lights,  it can all only continue for so long before society eventually tires and moves on to the next big thing. Having the “X Factor” is essentially being aesthetically gorgeous or quirky be that at the cost of true talent. True talent doesn’t sell when it comes to the “X Factor” as shocking and crazy as this is. X Factor’s 2012 contestant Rylan Clark neatly summed up the superficial mindset behind the X Factor through the line “Personally I think that if you try your best to look good, you should do alright in life.” The real test will be the battle for Christmas number one 2012. Will society finally tire of this cyclical tradition or will they continue to be dazzled by the bright lights and drama?

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UN Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women

“I AM A RAPIST AND A SADISTIC PIG” were the words that Lisbeth Salander tattoo-ed upon the chest of the man who sexually abused her, Advocat Bjurman, in Stieg Larsson’s novel “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.” This Sunday 25th November is the UN day for eliminating violence against women and I was immediately reminded of Larsson’s haunting Millenium trilogy, the first book of which was originally to be called “Men Who Hate Women.” Each of the parts of the novel begin with both haunting and sickening statistics, part one beginning with “18% OF WOMEN IN SWEDEN HAVE AT ONE POINT BEEN THREATENED BY A MAN.” Likewise in the UK, one in four women will be a victim of domestic abuse. And these are only the cases which have been founded and reported, many more will go unfounded and victims will suffer in silence. It is both shocking and disgusting, as futile as it may be I find myself hopelessly questioning why exactly, in the 21st century, this is the case? Why are statistics like this?

“For the first time in her life Salander felt a strong need to ask someone for advice. The problem was that asking for advice meant that she would have to confide in someone, which in turn would mean revealing her secrets. Who should she tell?” This line from the novel for me neatly sums up the inner turmoil that I can imagine a victim of domestic abuse would feel. The pressure to do what is right, make their voices heard and not suffer in silence. Victims are too often fearful to come forward to ask someone for advice, to report the abuse, preserving the image of the abuser, the sick individual who does not in any way deserve such mercy. By doing this they are simply putting themselves at risk again and again. A great deal of this abuse is carried out by those that are meant to be close to the victims, members of their family, friends or partner who in a sickening, hopeless twist, turn on them. It is easy to see how victims can feel trapped and hopeless.

Every girl or woman deserves the right to live a life that is not shrouded in concealed hopeless fear and pain. The UN Day for eliminating violence against women is a small step in eradicating the sick abuse carried out upon innocent individuals that have been abused not only physically, but mentally. The very trust the victims put in the abusers in the first place has painstakingly been taken advantage of also, comforted in the knowledge that they would be too fearful to stand up against them. The very fact that the day exists, shows that there is a hope, there is a mindset and a want to progress and change these sickening statistics. The hope is that more victims will come forward and not continue to stoically stew in their own inner and physical turmoil, there needs to be a mindset established that it is in fact okay to come forward and to confide, it is the right thing to do. Like Lisbeth these women should not have to question the idea of confiding in someone, it should be a given. Perhaps through the UN’s day for eliminating violence against women, society will become more aware of this inherently sickening plight, slowly but surely in the path to eradication. It is hard to imagine total eradication but if society at large is more aware of this abuse then it is in the right path.