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Beating Back the America’s Got Talent Audience July 29, 2008

Posted by Ted in : America's Got Talent, Reality TV, Reviews , trackback


Et tu, Hasselhoff?


The NBC show America’s Got Talent, currently in its third season, has a lot of good things going for it. The cheerful Sharon Osbourne is a welcome addition to the judges’ panel, and is more sympathetic toward the contestants than her predecessor, the pop singer Brandy, who seemed oddly disdainful and moody during her one year stint in the first season. David Hasselhoff remains the spiritual bedrock of the show, in spite of his occasionally erratic behavior, such as demanding to stand on contestants (ouch!), and having singing duets with cars (as witnessed in season one). Meanwhile, acidic brit Piers Morgan seems more civil these days and continues to be the voice of reason on the show, the much needed earthly anchor to the celestial flights of fancy taken by Hasselhoff and Osbourne. Jerry Springer, who replaced Regis Philbin as host in season two, seems like a better fit than Regis, who was left speechless at times by some of the more bizarre acts on the show. Springer is surprisingly likable as the host, especially in his backstage interviews with the performers.

Yes, all is going well for America’s Got Talent, which is currently enjoying high summer ratings. There’s just one problem I’m having with the show. I can’t take the studio audience. They’re mean, abusive, and kind of stupid. They yell, boo, and hiss at any act that doesn’t conform to their personal tastes. They foam at the mouth. They spit blood while their heads spin around. There’s almost nothing you can say about them that’s an exaggeration.

In a recent episode, an older contestant came out dressed like a king and had intended to recite some type of Shakespearian monologue. The first word out of the king’s mouth was greeted with a deafening wall of boos and jeers, followed quickly by three X’s from the judges. The mean-spiritedness of the incident was startling. Another contestant was a man who had lost the use of his vocal cords for several years due to injuries received in a car crash. Before the crash, he had dreamed of being a singer. He was appearing on the show to sing in public for the first time since regaining his voice. His wife and kids watched from backstage as he performed a pretty decent rendition of “You Lift Me Up”. The audience’s reaction? Boos and catcalls, of course. This kind of rude display is not why I watch the show, and apparently there are many who agree with me out there.

One can’t help but wonder if the new crowd dynamic is the handiwork of Springer. This phenomenon seemed to coincide with his arrival in the second season. Was this behavior learned from watching Jerry’s lively after-school specials, or is it the result of active coercion by AGT’s producers? Either way, the audience is clearly out of control.

Order and civility must be restored.

Here’s my proposal for dealing with the audience on America’s Got Talent:

1. Recruit former and current contestants to form a crowd control freak force, comprised of lion tamers, fire breathers, snake handlers, and assorted transvestites who will use their various talents to keep the heckling mob in check. If nothing else, the confrontation between the two camps would make for interesting television.

2. If the freak force proves ineffective, it’s time to bring out the fire hoses. This technique probably leaves a lot to be desired as a means of subduing a crowd. After the initial shock of the water wears off, the recipients will most likely be more hostile than ever. But the satisfaction of seeing wet people flailing about in pursuit of their dislodged cell phones makes this an essential part of the plan.

3. If the spectators still won’t mind their P’s and Q’s, phase 3 of the operation will be underway: bring in a massive swat team armed with billy clubs, tasers, pepper spray, cattle prods, tear gas, and napalm to pacify the crowd. Large nets would be dropped from the ceiling, allowing the distracted audience members to be gathered into bunches. They would then be loaded onto ships and taken to Polynesia where they would be sold as high quality food stuffs, for use in sushi and that type of thing. NBC could use the profits to develop more of their fabulous game shows that viewers can’t seem to get enough of.

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1. writeableramblingsNo Gravatar - August 3, 2008

I completely agree! i rarely watch television but happened to see that particular show. America does have talent but it is sad that America doesn’t give anyone more then one second to prove it before you get boo’d and hissed.

2. marybtNo Gravatar - August 4, 2008

4. Outlaw reality television; it sucks anyway. That’s why I only watch “Corner Gas”.

3. Joe GoldsteinNo Gravatar - August 18, 2008

Those crowd control methods seem a bit tame to me. You really wouldn’t get the audience’s attention much by doing those things. More rigorous measures would called for in order to properly address the problem. For example, heckling audience members could be forced to spend several hours watching C-SPAN.

On a more serious note, yes, I am also disappointed with reality television. As a television viewer, I feel that it is yet another example of corporate America finding a way to lower its bottom line and increase its profit margin at the expense of the common person. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I prefer television that features well-written scripts and talented professional actors. I feel that we’ve been tricked into accepting super-low-budget reality television that seems to be nothing more than filler for commercials. What’s next? Maybe they’ll just do away with television programming altogether and run nothing but commercials. Oh wait, they’ve already done that on certain cable and satellite channels, haven’t they?

4. JannikaNo Gravatar - October 15, 2011

I thought I’d have to read a book for a discveroy like this!

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