Anthony Painter: Springtime for Wagner ...
The more Simon Cowell wants Wagner to fail the more certain he is to succeed, writes guest blogger Anthony Painter:
In the hit Mel Brooks' Broadway musical, The Producers, two theatrical fraudsters work out how to earn millions from failure. The only problem is that the more they try to fail, the more they succeed. Their grotesque concept is a musical based on the rise of the Nazis, 'Springtime for Hitler: a gay romp with Eva and Adolf at Berchtesgaden.' It has all the ingredients of a spectacular failure. Instead it's a massive hit.
And after Pensnett's own Wagner once again breezed through to the next round of X-Factor, Cowell must know how those two fictional producers felt. The more he wants Wagner to fail, the more successful the Brazilian-born West Midlander is becoming.
The issue is not cash. Whatever happens Cowell will be a financial winner in this head-on confrontation. That's not the point. For guys like Cowell cash is not enough - he's got loads already. They want power. The irony is that Cowell was all-powerful. Rage Against the Machine and now Wagner have pierced the mystique.
Power is like a slippery fish. The more desperately you try to hold on, the more you are likely to lose your grip. So week after week the X-Factor judges seek to ridicule and belittle Wagner. In the process, he only gets stronger and stronger. His performances have a musical-esque, almost pantomime quality to them. Yet Wagner is strangely intoxicating- very watchable and very entertaining. And this is meant to be entertainment right?
This all came to a head on Saturday night as Cheryl Cole pounced on an article in which Wagner was quoted as describing the former Girls Aloud star as 'a girl from a council estate who got lucky.' As everyone knows, showbiz journalists can sometimes quote selectively and without context (one or two even make things up!) Far from being sniffy, it transpired that Wagner was actually adulating the rags to riches success of Ms Cole.
Simon Cowell was furious. His fellow judge had taken it upon herself to bring down Wagner with one misaimed personal shot. Instead it rebounded straight back at her and the other two judges - Cowell and Dannii Minogue- who make up the 'three witches of Eastwick' (as Louis Walsh described them.) Wagner survived. We don't know the vote tallies as they aren't revealed (why?!?) but, in all likelihood, he did more than just survive. Now he is stronger than ever.
Which brings us back to the slippery fish. If the aim is to wrench Wagner out of the contest then the three X-Factor judges- Cowell, Cole, and Dannii Minogue- who treat him with such disdain every week could not be playing it worse. Springtime for Hitler's producers had a string of absolute stinkers prior to their grand plan to fail. It was only by trying to fail that they 'succeeded.'
In trying to defeat Wagner, the judges are focusing attention on themselves and their own pettiness and vindictiveness. If they just let Wagner's singing and performances do the talking then there would not be the same audience reaction. Be nice, be respectful, don't insult the intelligence of your audience and maybe then Wagner will find his level. Who knows whether he would succeed or not but by playing fair, the judges would at least force Wagner to compete on his merits alone.
What the X-Factor judges fail to appreciate is that culture has changed considerably since the show was launched in 2004. We now live in austere times. That tends to diminish trust- we like to see people knocked off their high horse. We communicate far more with a far greater number of people via Facebook and Twitter so people can take collective action such as buying the Rage Against the Machine single that denied last year's X-Factor winner, Joe McEldery, the Christmas Number 1. In the post-MPs expenses world and after the scandalous behaviour of bankers, we don't have much regard for those who are wealthy or in positions of power.
What this means is that we are less prone to just going along with things because that's what Simon Cowell thinks we should do. Sure we'll watch his show- it's mighty entertaining and good on him for the concept. Beyond that, it's up to us. And stupidly, the judges are in a position where they get the ultimate decision of who goes home and who does not every week. That irritates us even more. It is not only Wagner who is patronised in the process- we are too.
So my hope is that Wagner does make the X-factor final. He's entertaining but, beyond that, it will show the complacent X-Factor judges who's in charge. We have the power not Simon Cowell. And if Wagner does make it to the final, maybe he will choose something suitable. 'Heil myself' or 'The King of Broadway' will do quite nicely- springtime for Wagner.
Anthony Painter occasionally finds himself tweeting about X-Factor at http://www.twitter.com/anthonypainter though more usually it's politics.