Oh, the heartbreak of rejection. On stage. In front of millions of viewers.
I do have my share of guilty-pleasure-reality-shows but I have to admit that since about Season 2 of American Idol, I have had pretty much no interest in watching shows such as these, The Voice and America’s Got Talent among them. I find that for all the ‘reality’ there’s also a fair amount of bullshit in the audition rounds that begs the question: Is it really about talent, or is it about ‘good TV’? (We all remember William Hung from AI’s third season.)
And as if the sting of rejection from the likes of Simon Cowell weren’t a hard enough pill to swallow AS AN ADULT, imagine being flat-out shunned by not one, but four judges. AS A TWELVE-YEAR OLD.
This is exactly what happened to 12-year old Romy on The Voice Kids Australia earlier this week. And the result was utter devastation. Which is understandable, because she is a child. And children, by nature, do not take well to criticism or rejection or, for that matter, the word ‘no’ in any context. Never mind in front of famous musicians, on stage, with blinding lights, TV cameras zooming in for a better shot and an audience holding its collective breath.
So is the international stage an appropriate platform for a child to bare his heart and soul, believing he is wonderfully talented because he has probably been told that all his life? I imagine the camps are quite divided on the subject. The problem is, everyone wants to be a star, to be the next Selena Gomez or (God forbid) Justin Bieber, and shows such as The Voice Kids are offering to put these kids under a microscope for pure entertainment value.
We can play the blame game: television producers for putting shows such as these on the air, parents for allowing their children to participate, the audience for eating up these programs, the brands that sponsor the shows, the media for highlighting and circulating and replaying those emotional moments.
It helps to remember that the outcome of these shows is based on purely subjective opinions. However, let’s be honest, none of us is blameless. In today’s day and age we are all responsible for perpetuating the idea that it is okay to watch a child break down on stage in front of millions, just as it is okay to celebrate tear-jerker, give-you-goosebumps performances. The only difference is that one makes us uncomfortable while the other makes us positively, fist-pumpingly gleeful.