X Factor

I usually permit myself an hour of television viewing a day, although this week with Hurricane Sandy I have been doing more than that. I know some Icelanders think the coverage of that event has been too extensive, but the thing is, there are not a lot of events in the U.S. that affect almost all of us, and well, Sandy happens to be one of them. I do not know anyone who does not have some connection to someone in one of the states affected by the storm. My dad grew up in New Jersey, very near where the epicenter of the storm went through, and well the Jersey shore has always been special to me and to my family.

But during the last two or three weeks of occasional TV viewing, I have watched a few minutes of the show X Factor here and there, the show Simon Cowell decided to start after leaving American Idol. I have been mostly fascinated to see Britney Spears, talking and walking and thinking like a normal person. That has been pretty amazing. Today I even saw her being funny: there is a new ad for X Factor that mocks the presidential election a little bit, and then it ends with her saying, in a sort of presidential voice, "I am Britney Spears, and I approve this message", just like all the candidates have to do at the end of all the political ads. So that was funny.

The last episode I watched was one where the judges were picking their teams of four finalists, out of six selected singers. Each group of six got to spend a week or something living at the celebrity's house, and then audition, and finally get picked yes or no for making it on to the next round. Of course all this was done with painfully slow pacing, closeups of each performer, endless interviews with how they felt at every stage of the process, blah blah.

But what was neat to watch was when the judges finally sat down on the couch with the contestant, and told them either yes they were in the final four, or no, they had to go home. First the judge spoke to the contestants for a few minutes about their good and bad attributes, and then said, "I have made my decision" very simply.

I was struck by this, struck by how much each of the contestants I saw treated that statement with such dignity, they did not try to argue or protest. They just sat and waited to hear what the decision was. And it made me think, because of course, each decision we make in life is difficult, and the thing to remember is to always respect when a person has made a decision, the difficulty and the effort that went into that process. No matter which way the decision goes, that it is made is the important thing.

That seems to be the thing about the X Factor that makes it different than the other shows, this kind of close and personal relationship between the contestants and the celebrity judges. Every person has their X Factor, and every show has its X Factor, I would say. So I recommend it.

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