RATM vs X Factor

· by Steve · Read in about 4 min · (739 Words)

[Edit 20th Dec] We did it! Rage Against The Machine is number 1 for Christmas, proper music fans in Britain give Simon Cowell and his manufactured karaoke bullsh*t the finger. Very, very happy!! Best Christmas number 1 that I can ever remember.

I detest reality TV with a passion. I think it’s low-brow, cheap nonsense that bare-facedly celebrates the very worst elements of human nature; promoting the idea that being famous (for anything) is somehow a laudable goal in itself, and indulging the public’s cathartic desire for a feeling of superiority and power over others via venomous gossip and voting people off. It’s a corporate goldmine of course, given how they don’t have to employ writers, directors or anything - just stick a bunch of people (preferably at least 75% maladjusted) in a house/jungle, give them a set of half-assed tasks that are preferably as humiliating or conflict generating as possible, and just sit back and watch the money roll in. Repeat ad infinitum. Reprehensible drivel - and it seems to me that it taps into the same psyche as that which was seen two thousand years ago in the arenas of ancient Rome; sure, it’s illegal to watch people fight to the death or be fed to lions anymore, but it’s basically the same thing, just on a psychological level instead - right down to a modern equivalent of the chanting mob influencing which way the emperor’s thumb goes. It’s a depressing indictment of how primitive the human race really remains, for all our swanky suits and digital watches.

Compared to the likes of Big Brother and I’m A Celebrity, X Factor is almost a saint, but it’s still got plenty to answer for. Every year what is basically a glorified karaoke competition determines what will be the Christmas Number 1 single in the UK. Now, of course anyone with even a remote taste in music doesn’t pay any attention to what the charts say anyway, particularly at Christmas (oh the horror of Bob The Builder and Mr Blobby in previous years) but it is pretty depressing that every year at Christmas we get the same thing - airwaves filled with some over-produced cover version of yet another soppy ballad from someone who will most likely be mopping the floors in McD’s in 12 months time, once the corporate mangle has wrung all the commercial opportunity from them.

That’s why the Rage Against The Machine for Christmas Number 1 campaign got started, encouraging music lovers in the UK to protest and to mass-buy the anarchic single Killing In The Name in the week which will determine the Christmas #1, to send a message of disapproval. I like RATM anyway, but even if I didn’t I would have joined the campaign just for the protest vote. So far, RATM has been winning, but as of today only marginally and all the predictions are that this will be overturned on the last day of chart sampling (Saturday) as the mob descends on town centres around the country and hurry bleating to the counters with the latest production-line tat from the X Factor machine.

I hope with all my heart that somehow RATM can win - not because the charts matter, but because it would be a symbolic gesture, and an affirmation that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, there are sizeable numbers of people in the country with a decent, independent thinking head screwed onto their neck (yes, I’m aware of the irony that to prove this requires the use of crowd behaviour, that’s not the point). If you’re passionate about music, even if you don’t like RATM, I encourage you to buy the single Killing In The Name today or tomorrow, just to make a stand (iTunes, Play - or others, allegedly it’s uncertain whether Amazon counts in the charts though so avoid that one).

Here’s the video of BBC Radio 5 Live’s interview with RATM and a live rendition of the song. The band was supposed to avoid the swearing, but at the end either they got carried away or just decided to adhere to their own lyrics (“F*** you I won’t do what you tell me”) and so got frantically pulled from the airwaves at that point (this version which came from the BBC website is censored, the live version was not). Well, it was in the spirit of the thing after all, what did they expect? 😀