The use of the word talent in the title of the hit television show “America’s Got Talent”, would seem to be stretching the imagination somewhat as we watch people with great spirit, but little aptitude to entertain. The show does unearth the odd gem in among an overabundance acts that you would walk past in the street without a second look.
The dearth of genuine talent in the show actually contributes to its immense popularity in a perverse way, as millions of viewers tune in to watch people who are hopelessly lacking in talent, make a complete fool of themselves in their quest for fame and fortune. The attraction for viewers is not so much in the talent on show as the lack of it. Like American Idol, the fun is in watching those who believe they have talent, prove the opposite.
The format of America’s Got Talent follows the tried and tested routine of having three panelists give their summary of the act they have watched and their verdict on the future of the participant. As expected, the panel just has to include its own Mr Nasty, this time in the form of Piers Morgan who reviews the acts with brutal honesty while the other two panelists take a gentler approach.
It is easy to see the influence of Simon Cowell in this production, a man who has discovered from personal experience that viewers are voyeuristic in nature and actually enjoy watching hopelessly untalented people die a death. He knows only too well that the success of the show rests largely in demonstrating that America has NO talent in many instances.
America’s Got Talent is like the good old variety shows of days gone by with one major difference. The “entertainers” are complete unknowns. The program makers choose to showcase a mixture of acts that range from excellent to awful, a combination that makes it compulsive viewing for a large television audience. Add the element of one million dollars for the winning act and you have a recipe for a successful show.
The show is one massive talent contest with every kind of act you can think of, represented. The fact that many of the participants should not even be in the building, let alone on stage, does nothing to harm the success of the show. On the contrary, this mix of the sublime and ridiculous is what makes America’ Got Talent one of the most popular of today’s reality television programs.