After all the hype – all the ‘teaser’ adverts and trailers on radio, television and the press – this year’s X Factor season started last night. Generally, it seems the calibre of the latest contestants is higher than previous years. But one short exchange made me slightly uneasy about the judge’s comments.
27 year old Danyl Johnson, a teacher from Reading, gave a stunning performance of Jennifer Hudson’s “You’re Gonna Love Me” from the movie ‘Dreamgirls’. There was a lot riding on his performance, not least because it’s an iconic diva song written for a female lead in a hit film.
Johnson did a great job (to see the performance, click here) but other than Simon Cowell, who this season is mentoring the under 25 group, the judges comments ranged from deliberately negative to faintly disturbing. Louise Walsh’s “…great performer, great singer, but definitely the most overconfident person in the competition – you need to become more likeable” was totally unneccessary; Dannii’s “…if we’re to believe everything we read in the paper, maybe you didn’t need to change the gender reference…” was not only spiteful, it was verging on homophobic. What on earth does a contestant’s sexuality have to do with their ability to entertain?
I appreciate that the show needs to exhibit some dynamic between the judges, and that each wants their own acts to succeed. But I wonder how Dannii Minogue would feel if Danyl Johnson had commented live on television about her being Kylie’s less talented, less popular little sister? The real cynicism of course is that towards the end of the nineties, Dannii Minogue performed at the 1998 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, releasing the festival’s first official theme song “Everlasting Night” and co-directing the video of that sing as “a tribute to Australia’s gay and lesbian community”.
Did anyone criticise her performance because she was straight?