Tuesday, August 15, 2017

X Voice Rockstar Talent (Private Month of Poetry)

OK so this is DEFINITELY not high art, but hey. I was thinkin' it, so I writ it. It's only meant to be an observational frippery!

X Voice Rockstar Talent

so I have become mildly obsessed with talent shows
(if obsession is a thing you can do mildly, in your pyjamas, sipping tea)

I like the lights and the staging and the way
they try to convince you that everything is unknown and spontaneous
the way they hide the scripting and choreography, until
some disgruntled contestant dressed like Pink from 2006 blurts out the truth
in a fit of entirely unplanned rage at not getting her shot to -

I don't know; advance in the show, I guess
be a temporary star in the firmament, until the machine chews her up and spits her out -

the way they show the little snippets of conversations between the judges
like we're eavesdropping on a private chat, except, of course, it's evident we're not
I like the way the hosts play up the cameras, and the way
all the contestants say very slightly modified versions of the same thing
a whole lot of people claiming the very same dream in much the same language

I like the way that the shows spring their surprises, and how, when you've watched a few
you can see the next shock act coming from two ad breaks away
I like how the comedians are sometimes genuinely funny, and how the magic acts
are satisfyingly bewildering

I like the way the singers on The Voice always prevaricate when choosing a coach
and always have to say "But I love all of you so much!" to keep the vibe going
"This is the hardest decision of my life", and, oh,
I love the fake-o feuding between Blake and Adam
(neither of whom I knew or cared anything about before)
and I loved how Alicia Keys went bareface and turbanned and was still the best-looking person in the room

I like the tear-jerky back-stories and the spots with the families
and how someone is always recovering from some serious ailment, or
is singing for their beloved deceased grandpa or for love of their children or their mama

I like the fact that some of the singers can actually sing;
I like even more that a lot of them can't, but try anyway.

I liked the Storm Trooper dancers, a lot.

I wonder, sometimes, what appeals to me about these shows.
That they are constructed, I don't doubt, analytically, for a minute;
I don't think much happens on them that someone didn't think would make great TV.
I know they select acts for a variety of responses:
laughter, tears, affection, nostalgia, cringeing, disgust, contempt.
I know the audience reacts as they are supposed to react:
I know I, largely, do too.

And yet.

There is a small, unwordly, uncynical part of me, somewhere, in my cockle-heart
that wants the myth of translation to be true.
Something that wants to believe that lives can really be changed
by singing beautifully, or clowning uproariously, or dancing fantastically
in a big auditorium in front of cameras and Simon Cowell.
Something that wants to believe that most neoliberal of all lies:
that performance art is a commodity that anyone can buy -
a field of gold waiting for anyone with the stomach to get up and try.

Something that wants to believe that a poet could stand on stage,
speak their words, and quiet the crowd into reverie
and fill up all the holes that life has dug out
and get the audience to their feet to say:
this is a hurting and a healing place
this is a locus of the real

Even though these shows are facades, and the drum behind them hollow
I still want to believe
I still do
at home, here, in my slippers and dressing gown
watching the next one walk slowly to the X on the floor.

- Kathy, 15/08/17

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