The Voice Kids

Entertainment or Exploitation?

It was announced yesterday that Kylie Minogue and will be joining The Voice Australia, and that Delta Goodrem and Joel Madden will be working on The Voice Kids. Not sure who else will be on the kids version yet, but I sincerely hope they’re picking people who are good with kids. Even better if they pick people who were actually famous as kids, and can understand what the kids are going through.

The adult version of The Voice is going to be cut throat this year. The networks are going to put Kylie and Dannii against each other on rival singing shows. I can only imagine how ugly it’s going to get.

So what does that mean for The Kids version? Will it play nicely? Will they really push the kids to be even more entertaining? Do we even need a kids version?

I get that if there’s a bunch of kids who want to be part of The Voice, it’s better that they have their own version. It’s not fair to put kids against adults. In the acting world, you wouldn’t send a kid in to audition for the same part as an adult. But singing isn’t really a competition for the same part. Each person is recognized for their own talent. But on these shows, you just can’t compare an 8 year old with a 28 year old.

The Voice Kids has stated that they’ve got a team of clinical psychologists on board. Co-executive producer Geraldine Orrock told The Sunday Times “layers” of protection had been set up for the talented youngsters who made it to the Channel 9 set.
“We have a whole team of clinical psychologists who will be there to deal with anything that comes up at all times,” she said.
“The children will have their own guardian with them at all times. And we are hiring the right people, who have worked with kids before.”

Given how much has come out over the last couple of years about kids in the entertainment industry, let’s hope they’re really being careful about who they have working with kids. I hope they are doing background checks on everyone, and making sure the parents really are with the kids at all times. My mother was on set with me at the beginning, but then she would drop me off and pick me up. When I turned 12, and broke my leg, I started getting a taxi to work. I was driven home by a crew member. The only time she was there was on Saturday night. I hope the parents on The Voice Kids don’t get lax, and start thinking they don’t need to be there. It’s going to be very emotionally grueling. There’s going to be lots of ups and downs. The kids are going to need their parents there for them.

I also hope that the producers are watching out for Stage Parents. There’s nothing worse than a talented kid who is only there because the parents are pushing them, living vicariously through them. Or who see their kids as a meal ticket. Or who are not supportive. Are are generally just shitty people. There are shitty parents everywhere, but their shittyness just gets magnified on a set.

The kids, who so far have been watching The Voice, and who just see an hour of glamour, probably don’t realize just how much work goes into producing an hour of television. I doubt the parents have any idea either. They also won’t understand how much their lives will change. There’s all these articles in the paper lately along the lines of “What it’s like to be Asian/black/whatever in Australia”. Someone needs to do an article on what it’s like to be an entertainer in Australia. Especially a child entertainer. EVERYBODY is teased as a kid. We all get picked on for somehow being different. But it is much bigger when you’re on TV. These kids need to expect for everything to change. Kids at school will either think they’re awesome, or they’re going to beat the shit out of them. They’ll probably go through periods of both. It’s one thing in the US where there are literally hundreds of TV channels. People may never see The Voice, and nobody will recognize the kids. But in Australia, everyone will know their faces. It will be hard for them to go out and not feel the effects.

Fame is a weird thing. It changes people, and not just the person who becomes famous. It changes the people around you. Friends get weirded out by the experience. Some don’t want to be around you when you’re being followed by photographers. Others, who didn’t like you before, will suddenly find you fascinating. It’s hard for kids to work out who their real friends are, and who is just a hanger on.

Even if the kids make it through the whole thing, dealing with the ups, downs, cuts each week, what happens at the end? Are they going to be offered a deal like the adults? Will they be turned into mini record moguls, like Justin Beiber, or Miley Cyrus? (Will they end up like Beiber and Cyrus?) Will they be given a taste of fame, and then when the season is over, the networks just return them to suburbia where they came from, and the kids are expected to work out how to go back to normal?

I think, given the right environment, and the right people, The Voice Kids could be a good experience for kids who are serious about becoming singers as adults. I don’t think it’s a good place for sensitive kids who aren’t good at rejection, or who have spent their life being told they’re the most awesome kid on earth. I don’t think kids today can handle rejection well, although it might be a good life lesson for some of them. But my main concern is that it’s not show play, it’s not show fun, it’s show business. Business means work, and I’m not sure if everyone understands that it really is going to be WORK.

I’ll be keeping an eye on the show. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle it.


More International Judges?

Are there no qualified Aussies?

I’m sorry, I just need to have a little rant. All the papers and gossip sites are buzzing about who the new judges will be on talent shows in 2013, and I just need to have a minor patriotic hissy fit.

When I was a kid, my mum asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said I wanted to be black. She asked what I meant, and I said that black people were so talented. They could sing, dance and act. They were a triple threat. She looked at me and said, Don’t you know that black people are oppressed? They’ve been enslaved, they got a bum deal? I, at that tender age had no clue what racism was, or understood slavery. I just knew that when I watched TV, black people were talented. Most people get one gift, singing OR dancing OR acting. It seemed like every black person on TV was just mega talented. I wished I was black….

It seems that whoever is doing casting for all these judging shows has the same glasses I had as a kid. Maybe not necessarily black, but it certainly is a foreign thing. They think all the talent lies in someone from overseas, and there’s no good talent in Australia. Well, maybe the producers of Everybody Dance Now thought the same as me…..

I get that these shows like Australia’s Got Talent and The Voice are international concepts and we live in an increasingly global market. People in Australia really do have to break into an overseas market to make money, and having an international Judge or Host brings some international perspective to the mix. But when your show is ONLY foreigners, or all but one, it’s getting a little ridiculous.

Take The Voice. It had Delta Goodrem, Keith Urban, Seal and Joel Madden. Two Aussies and two foreigners. Now that Keith is gone, they’re getting Ricky Martin. Now, I have to say, I’m conflicted on this one. I love Ricky Martin. I adore him. I could stare at him all day long. I first heard Ricky back in 1993, when I went to Honduras. When he was singing in Spanish, and hadn’t crossed over to the English market yet. I got back to Australia, and had to order CDs internationally. I loved his long curly hair. I loved that he was in a boy band called Menudo and had successfully transitioned out to being a solo artist. I was so excited when he crossed over to the English market, because then all my friends could understand who this Latin God was. I think Ricky is an awesome choice. He’s been an artist since he was a child, he’s a true cross over artist, and lets face it, the guy is sexy as hell and we all want to look at him.

But, the little patriotic voice in me asks why the hell do they need THREE foreign judges and only one Aussie? Delta will be the only Aussie left, and lets face it, she’s not the most popular judge on the show….Even the host of that show is only kinda Australian. The X Factor has Mel B and Ronan Keating, so they’re 50/50 too. They’ve got an Aussie host, so they’re kinda doing better in the Patriotic factor.

Now that Australia’s Got Talent is moving to nine, they’re going to revamp the show and there’s much speculation on who the new Judges will be. Victoria Beckham is being touted as the biggest want, and the poll asks which International artist would we like to see? How about a button for pick a fricken Aussie?

It’s bad enough that all the TV shows are now based on music. It’s hard enough for Australian actors and presenters to get a job without making everything about music, so that singers and musicians are not just on our radio, but they’re taking over TV as well. Now all those jobs are going to foreigner singers, it’s a double insult to Australian artists.

I guess it’s not just singing talent shows either. Even things like Celebrity Apprentice seem to have a token American. Is it that Australia just feels like they HAVE to have the validation of foreigners, or is it that no Aussie wants to work on these shows? I see all that’s written about Delta and Natalie, and I think that maybe Aussie’s are scared to step up into the role in case they’re hated on like those two are.

If I had any shred of singing ability, I’d leap at the chance to work on a judging show. Realistically though, for something like Australia’s Got Talent, you don’t need to be a singer. Most music producers can’t sing themselves, and AGT is about more than just singing. Plus, you really don’t need to be talented to say whether someone else is good or bad. We all judge from our couch, whether we have any talent or not. You don’t need to be able to make an apple pie to know whether one is good or not when you eat it.

I tell you what; I can’t sing to save my life, but I can act. I can talk in front of a camera. I even used to teach acting classes to kids. I’ve worked in Australia and the US, and more importantly, I’ve got TWO passports. An Australian one and a US one. How about I come home and at least host one of these talent shows? Australian audiences will get an Aussie on TV, and the producers can have someone with a US passport to fill that ever important foreigner slot…..


Is there no Aussie Talent?

Is there no Aussie Talent, or does Tall Poppy Syndrome mean Aussie’s need a foreigner to validate them?

Keith Urban has announced he is leaving The Voice Australia and it looks like he will be heading to American Idol. Who can blame the guy? He’ll probably earn about 20 times more on a US show than he would in Australia. He’s also at home in the US, since until The Voice, he was probably much more famous in the US than he was in Australia. He’s had a home in Nashville for many, many years. He was a household name, he’s well liked and respected. Until The Voice, the poor guy was better known as Mrs Nicole Kidman by people in his home country. The Voice gave Australia a great opportunity to  get to know Keith. To know his music, to know him as a person. Keith finally got to feel some love from Australians. He finally had a hit in Australia.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if Australian producers gave that same opportunity to another Australian artist?

The Australian psyche is complex. They like the “Little Aussie Battler”. They like the underdog. They like people who are almost famous. But as soon as that person becomes successful, they’re suddenly too big for their boots. They’re ostracized. They’re no longer loved. Then, feeling like they’re no longer welcome by Australia, that person will move overseas and climb the ladder again. While they’re doing it, that person is a “sell out”. Then, when they make it big overseas, all of a sudden, they’re once again LOVED by Australians. All of a sudden, they’re one of ours. They’re making Australia proud. They’re representing! Remember Kylie Minogue in the early 1990’s when she won 4 Logies? It was like overnight, people hated her. There was such a backlash. Then, she went overseas and made it huge in England. She made an impression in the US too. Then, she was a huge hit with Aussie’s and everyone wanted to claim her as their own.

I am also amused by the people who aren’t born in Australia but grew up there, who then move overseas. Think Russell Crowe. When he fucks up, he’s a damn Kiwi. When he’s winning an Oscar, he’s an Awesome Aussie. Actually, Keith Urban was also born in New Zealand…

australias-got-talentThen, we’ve also got an obsession with needing to be validated by Stars from overseas. Can you think of a Logies that didn’t have some international guest? Even for the races like the Melbourne Cup, or something as mundane as a Nightclub opening, they’re flying in some special guest from overseas. Even Excess Baggage had Kevin Federline. Seriously people, how bad is it when you’re importing Kevin Federline? Even if they do fly in an Aussie, they treat them differently. Fly in an American, well, they get a first class ticket. Flying in an Aussie, they get coach… Why the need to roll out the red carpet for foreigners, but not for your own?

The X-Factor has Mel B and Ronan Keating. The Voice has Seal and Joel Madden.  Australia’s Got Talent has Brian McFadden. Even that Everybody Dance Now had Jason Derulo & Kelly Rowland. Maybe that one would have lasted longer if they had at least one Aussie on there….

Ok, it’s a global world now and people move around and work in other countries. But it seems like each show is only half Australian talent and half guest worker. Now that Keith is leaving, the names they’re throwing out there are ALL foreigners. Is there seriously no-one in Australia that could take his place? Is there no Aussie singer who wouldn’t be fabulous as a judge/coach? Is there not an Aussie who could step up? Even if you did like they did with Keith Urban, and brought an Aussie back from overseas to work on the show. Let Australia get re-acquainted with an old friend. Let someone who had moved overseas to be successful come home and feel the love.

Australians need to let go of the Tall Poppy Syndrome, and start showing some love for one of their own. Australians are talented. They have personality. They’re quite capable of being a judge or a host on an Australian show. I hope they pick another Aussie host for The Voice. I hope as people leave these shows, they start filling their places with other Aussie’s too.