Tuesday, 24 July 2012

'Superstar'tling: Nathan James out

Should a reality television star - especially when they are decidedly not the weakest in the competition - be able to make a prediction with such accuracy?

I found yesterday's 'Superstar' a startling piece of television. This was not because of the amazing vocals; stunning staging; eloquent and considered judging; or even the usual reality television villain-edit, which one contestant almost always seems to get. No, just because yesterday's "Tarnish Nathan fiasco" was so very, very blatant.

The morning of the show the Sun posts a story about a diva fit Nathan has allegedly had (the normal 'an onlooker' source) 
Then onto the show itself:
Nathan was in the first singing slot of the show, traditionally a bit of a killer slot. 

Of course his VT is shown before he sings. It was decidedly not a kind edit. It starts with Nathan clearly being quizzed about his twitter followers and what they are saying to him. Presumably he's been asked to read some out:
"Good luck Nathan, every performance you have done is flawless, keep smiling"  Then the researcher asks "Any more?" to which Nathan replies, "There's loads, how long you got?" Now Nathan was neither going to read out a negative tweet about himself, nor did he call himself flawless. And of course he had loads of mentions - he's a celeb of the moment (well, as much as a show consistently rating sub 4 million can make you one. Oh hi Big Brother!) 

His VT continues thus: "
The days are so long and you are tired and sometimes you say things you maybe regret saying" It is then shown that he is talking about him refusing to wear a top hat for his performance of 'Sweet Child O' Mine.' He repeatedly says "It's not happening" - a bit of a toddler tantrum, yes, but would you have agreed to look like this on national television?

For a rock song with women fawning around him, not a production of Alice in Wonderland.

He then quotes his hero Kurt Cobain: "I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not." Firstly, is there anyone with any ounce of self-respect that doesn't agree with that sentiment? If I had to pretend I adored Batman to keep my boyfriend onside, he wouldn't be my boyfriend much longer. Plus once you find out he's singing 'Born this Way' by Lady Gaga (with lyrics such as "there's nothing wrong with loving who you are", the production team certainly were hammering home the 'I'm confident within myself' theme.) it's pretty obvious it was meant to segue into the song.

The next bit of his VT? Just Nathan saying that he hopes his song is enough to get him into the semi-final. No little kids, no grandmothers, no sore throat tales, ITV? Yeah, that was a pretty negative VT when taken at immediate face value. Unless the British public have suddenly taken to confident types over night (the Torys are getting rid of the rest of our British staples after all -- oo satire...)

He sings the song. He's alright. Probably better than a lot that follows. I'm not a music critic.

On to the judging! Italics are comments by me.

Dawn: "Well Nathan, I really did believe you were born that way, definitely. You are riding high (before a fall, perhaps?Nathan, definitely, that was entirely thrilling. You are mind-blowingly talented. For me, personally, Nathan, I think you would make a truly great Judas. (so the antihero, the opposite, entirely not Jesus, entirely not the role you put him on live television to audition for. Hmm.) Now, think about it, think about it, Judas is a very muscular part. Unfortunately for you it is already cast with the genius that is Tim Minchin (you're not *that* good, Nath, you'd only be "truly great") in this particular production. But that's the part (she says, pointing) I think you are right for. 

Mel: "Well Nathan we know that we can count on you to start the show with a big bang. Perfect song for you, fantastic performance, I absolutely loved the arrangement, the choregraphy, the staging, thank you to our wonderful live band, I'll carry on praising our wonderful dancers. Great Performance" (comments on Nathan: 4, comments on everything else: 5 and two of Nathan's comments were the same but with different synonyms.)

And now it gets interesting.

Andrew: Well.. Nathan your voice is amazing. No question. But (hands pulled back in the air) here's my big but. I think you need to love the song more than you love yourself and I'm, I'm, (booing) finding, I'm finding it difficult to reconcile all these tweets that you do, and all these strange things with.. A guy that is going to go into a rehearsal room [Shh a minute, (raises voice to admonish audience for shouting out and booing) if you like this guy, listen to me!]
I want to know what you are going to be like when you go into a rehearsal room where everyone is equal, where you are going in with big stars, people who are I-I-I-just am terribly worried. Nathan: I'm going to have to prove myself then, this is the thing, this entire competition is about (Andrew starts to interrupt and talk over him) me proving that I am ready and I've got enough of a voice to do it] Andrew: Then why do you tweet, why do you tweet, why do you tweet all this nonsense, why did you tweet yourself with a crown of thorns? (Nathan is silent.)

Straight after that the nation is invited to vote for Nathan.

If you'd been fed a news article over him being a diva, a negative VT about his love for himself, lack of respect for the production and overconfidence and witnessed a Jesus candidate being told he'd be a "truly great" Judas and then slammed by the great Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber in which he restates Nathan's love for himself, his apparent nonsense (in a negative, rather than incoherent, sense) tweets, and Nathan's ego; would you be tempted to vote for him as Joe Public? Especially when every show it's been a similar tale of him being criticised for being confident.

And now let's examine the show's criticisms of Nathan:

1) Nathan loves himself, more than anything else.
Based partially on the fact he has a lot of mentions on twitter (presumably due to being popular with public, the people meant to be casting this?) and would prefer to be liked for who is rather than a false persona that he's put on.

2) Nathan's "nonsense" tweets.
That tweet about Nathan wearing a crown of thorns? A fan had hand drawn him a picture of him wearing a crown of thorns (very nicely) and he'd retweeted it. So somebody who is auditioning to play Jesus attracts fans that draw him in the role he's auditioning for? That's so awful, I quite agree Lord Webber! (catch the sarcasm.) Here's the tweet in question:

Dreadful. Although when I say that I'm talking about the excessive exclamation marks, lack of apostrophe, lack of spacing and missed capitals. (I agree with you, I'm nobody to talk when it comes to bad grammar and punctuation, but it's the only thing I can even vaguely pick up on as being "nonsense.")

3) Nathan's ego and confidence.
The only thing I can really say here? Let's have a shy, retiring Jesus without any stage presence. He'll light up O2. As far as I can tell Nathan hasn't shown much obnoxious confidence (e.g. suggesting he'd win the show easily)

So really, ALW had nothing to say for all his shouting, interrupting and finger pointing. Personally I find that all very conclusive of a sharp, fast and not-very-clever way of trying to ditch Nathan fast. Why? I can only presume that Lord Webber doesn't like him and he was doing well enough in the vote for Lord Webber to be worried. Maybe Nathan is a bit of a diva, he certainly appears (to me) to have large personality and to be full of life and possibly this had caused a clash somewhere. In that case it probably, sadly, is better that Nathan has left - a production with those kind of problems could be very difficult and not good for either show or contestant.

However, this was the wrong way to go about it. Firstly, they could have chucked him out at any time during the audition stages, do so if he's an issue! Secondly, be a bit more subtle about it if you really have to put in a villain-edit 'to make good television' - ITV's last two lots of villain-edits have been so crudely manufactured (Misha B's 'bully-gate') that it's incredibly uncomfortable television to watch. Thirdly, give your contestants a bit of training in social media. The only time Nathan James really didn't come out looking good were his series of bribe tweets when he panicked over the programme shipping him out:

He was also quite unprofessional over his tweets about how Webber hated him and I don't think they did him much credit (as a potential actor in the musical industry, anyway):

However, Nathan does sum up last night well enough:

What could have prevented it all? In my opinion the spiral nature of having everybody in live television every day has taken its toll - it's simply left no time for problems to be sorted out backstage. Go back to a weekly format (it worked well enough on the BBC!) - it'll sort the wandering eliminations out (before the show? after the show? I'll decide whilst watching them sing during the show?) give more time for production and thus for problems there to be ironed out, and help give time to sort out difficulties the production may have with the contestants. Let's face it, other than "Britain's Got Talent" when has scheduling a reality television show across a week worked? Anybody going to watch the next series of "Red or Black"?

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