X-Factor? Zzzzz-factor more like.

The X-Factor sucks. A lot of people watch it. Simon Cowell has made a lot of cash out of it. But it still sucks. And not just because I think the talent doesn’t have any. The sheer cynicism of the show has corroded the soul of the old ‘Opportunity Knocks’ format and left us with a grinning cadaver of Cruelty TV. And I mean that most sincerely folks.

The X-Factor demeans talent. Each season’s conveyor belt of hopefuls sends the signal that talent is 10-a-penny, that creative people are disposable.The panel talks up karaoke acts as if they were geniuses. And yet their skills rarely match their overvaulting ambition. But what is more pernicious about the X-Factor?

Have you ever heard Simon Callow talking triumphantly about his Robson & Jerome cover of ‘Unchained Melody’ – the most covered song in history? If so, you’ll recognise the celebration of cynicism that makes The X-Factor so dangerous.

The show is at the forefront of the crapification of British culture. What the producers lack in ambition they make up for in shameless exploitation. The new idea – the big lie – is that you make creative work simply by ‘pulling the strings’. It’s so brazen and so palbably untrue that it resists refutation.

‘Pulling the strings’ can make money. That’s proven. By Colonel Tom Parker and all. Yet what the X-Factor can’t demonstrate is any kind of creative or lasting commercial success (other than feeding its own machine). For all the hype, all the ‘know-how’, all the effort and the sheer amount of money involved, what has been/will be their lasting contribution to British culture?

A big fat zip.

Last month, each X-Factor show drew an audience of about 7.5 million – more than the Beeb’s twinkle-toed (but equally lame) Strictly Ballroom. But still 2 million down from this season’s debut. The finale may pull in 10 million viewers.

How many genuinely gifted songwriters and musicians would welcome that kind of exposure? How many could use some of the money that the Cowell monster-machine is currently sucking out of the music business?

That bothers me, even more than Cowell’s tired panto villian act.

I don’t mind the stage-management of the judging, if it weren’t so boring.

I don’t mind the conspiracy of the redtops to pretend that this stuff is remotely interesting. (I thought Louie resigned in a rage? Oh, he’s back? Fair dos.)

I don’t really even care that – like a crap magician – they persistently fail to pull a popstar rabbit out of the hat. Because I never expect them to. I even quite enjoy the obvious boredom of the ‘live’ audience, self-consciously shuffling around like a 70s TOTP crowd.

Aw c’mon. You know what’s wrong. Think back to the 50s and 60s, and the birth of ‘modern’ music. Remember, the squares in suits trying to spoonfeed the public with safe, patronising pap? Youth laughed at them. Roger Daltrey screamed – “Won’t Get Fooled Again’. The X-Factor are fooling us by the millions. It’s the management of mediocrity we all thought ‘rock-n-roll’ had blown away. That’s what bugs me, daddio. It’s back and more heartless than ever.