For me, The Voice is fascinating because it reflects an image of who we think we are. It is our story, manifest. It captures so very much of what we, as Aussies and as digitalized world citizens believe, understand and hope.
The reality TV format mimics production systems from mainstream media. What makes, for me at least, reality TV interesting is that it co-opts those systems to create celebrities out of folk who do not typify stardom as we know it. The Voice works this way; it uses reality TV to create pop stars out of ordinary people who would not ordinarily, pop.
All of this is probably only important if you are interested anyway. And I am. I think The Voice is fascinating. I think the music industry is fascinating. And I think celebrity is fascinating. From a feminist perspective I have heard it said and believe to be true that ‘fame has replaced romance as the dominant female fantasy’. Now, as far as I am concerned, that’s bloody MASSIVE!
Having thought about it a bit (OK a lot!) my theory goes something like this. The success of The Voice rests on three basic principles:
• It appeals to our ego in that we are each an arbiter of ‘true’ talent
• It appeals to our hope that society is merit based and talent attracts reward regardless of privilege
• It fits our sporting paradigm in which we barrack like loons for our faves.
We are all in A&R
The Voice invests us with personal power. Its choose-your-own-star format credits each of us with the ‘knowing’ of a taste-maker. Now we all work in A&R and the zing shifts from the audience’s passive consumption of what they deem great to what we deem it.
Talent vs. privilege
My favourite point in the show so far was the fact the first contestant, THE FIRST, uniquely and definitely not TV ‘hot’ and dressed as a giant strawberry, wooed us with a voice that could only properly be described as beautiful. That. Right there. A different sort of gorgeous holding her own on national TV. Casey Withooos was so far out of the narrow bandwidth of what’s considered attractive on TV as to be intergalactic. Not a very usual kick-off for Channel 9. But one that hooked me from the get-go.
The talent vs. privilege is a big part of what makes this show work and it is most obvious with the chair spinning thing. Talent before privilege. Casey… she’s big! Karise… she’s poor! Rachel… she’s blind! It’s not how things work on telly and for that, we like it all the more. In all of us is the hope that the extraordinary will shine through.
Two things I really like about the show are that a) the judges are properly qualified b) there is no use of montage of people failing at their auditions. Clearly a decision. No humiliation. No crappy ‘ha-ha they’re deluded’ fail montage. No mean screen-fill. Just people singing for us. Nice.
Not sure. Casey Donavan anyone? I am not sure the winning of a record contract with Universal Australia is an actual proper prize. Perhaps once, but now? Hard days for that sort of malarkey. I don’t mean to be a downer but it would be silly to think otherwise. I think for me this story is a TV one and, unless Karise wins, I am not so sure I’ll be quite so interested after the show ends. But bugger that. It’s on and I’m in. Up for it. Me and most of my mates. The Monday night ABC TV diaspora is GO!