I’m not really one for TV talent shows, but even I watched one episode of The Voice. To this moment I don’t really recall why; some kind of paralysis must have taken over my hand and rendered it unable to operate a control to change the channel. The paralysis certainly spread to my brain as I watched…
It seems to me that no matter how virtuous-sounding the concept may be, it is inherently flawed. Yes, I think people should be judged on their voices, not on the whole voice-looks package. But do I think that The Voice is achieving that goal? Not in the least…
The contestants were invited to compete by talent scouts, who presumably made some kind of aesthetic judgment about them (hence none of the current contestants are particularly unpleasant to look at and there is a relatively balanced selection: male-female, black-white, old-young etc). The entire crew and studio audience (who cheer wildly to indicate their preference) are able to see the individuals as they perform. In fact, the only people in the entire nation who are unable to see their faces are the four judges, who presumably know that they’re not going to be landed with an impossible act to market, since someone somewhere has already prescribed some kind of guidelines for who gets invited to compete in the first place.
What’s more, beyond the ‘blind’ audition stage, everyone is fully visible! So in that sense, it becomes no different whatsoever to any other TV talent show.
I’m not criticising them for trying – it’s a laudable principle – they just didn’t think it through. And I would like to propose my own solution: The Bag.
What better way to make a show completely impartial than to have the contestants, from day one until the final moment, wear a bag over their head? No pre-selections, no talent scouts, just enormous blind auditions, with thousands of bag-bedecked hopefuls longing for a place. Bag style, colour and brand would be regulated to ensure that nobody be prejudged by their choice of attire; in fact, perhaps a large, padded body bag is required so that no judgment can be made on clothing, skin colour or body shape.
A small hole would be permitted for the mouth to allow singing without too much muffling, but not so large a hole that the judges are able to judge someone based on the aesthetics of their teeth.
The bags would remain right through the auditions, the boot camp and the live shows. Strict security would be employed to stop paparazzi sneaking shots of people out of their bags (the cost for security personnel would be offset by the amount saved on hair and makeup) and even in between shows, contestants would not be allowed to remove the bag.
To avoid judgment being on the basis of dancing skills, contestants on The Bag would perform whilst shackled to a chair. Not even their feet would be permitted to tap, lest it disclose something about their sense of rhythm.
Real names would be replaced by numbers to restrict people researching their looks via Facebook and Google, gloves would be worn to stop fingerprint tracing, and when speaking, contestants would have their voices manipulated with microphone effects in order to conceal their true identity.
Stringent steps would be taken in order to stop family members giving the game away, identifying their loved ones and providing voters with photographs or loveable anecdotes to sway their decision. Contestants who were successful in making it through the first audition would not be told there and then, but would be kidnapped some days later; their family members led to believe that they had been murdered and dumped in a lake, so that they weren’t tempted to reveal any details that might affect the public’s decision.
Only at the very final moment, when the winner is announced, would the bag be removed and the nation would get to see for the first time the bearer of the pure, perfect voice, unsullied by other trivial matters such as looks, personality, personal hygiene or other performance-related abilities.
(Then perhaps a follow-up vote would give the public the choice whether the performer should remain unveiled, or spend the rest of their pop careers back under-wraps!)
It’s an infallible idea… now to whom do I pitch it?