Mentors, tormentorsBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Some singing tilts have made “mentoring’’ trendy on TV. These days, jurors don’t simply judge – they also help guide, rehearse and develop the finalists placed in their care, with decidedly varied results and consequences.
On “The X Factor,’’ the juror-mentors are Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, LA Reid and Nicole Scherzinger – with Simon mentoring the female finalists, LA the guys, Paula the groups and Nicole the “over 30’’ bets.
Simon and Paula have a “history’’ behind them, thanks to their “hate-love-hate’’ relationship on “American Idol.’’ Despite the dicey twists and turns of their catty and bratty tandem, Simon made sure that Paula joined him on “X,’’ which he produces, because he knew that viewers enjoyed their “sparring sessions.”
Interestingly enough, Paula isn’t Simon’s main irritant on “X” – it’s Nicole. He keeps making snide remarks about the Fil-Am juror-mentor’s “wrong’’ song choices for the finalists under her wing. Nicole is savvy enough to desist from retorting in kind, deferring to her senior colleague and baring her fangs only when he’s hissed at and dissed her past the breaking point.
Seen more generally, the “mentor wars’’ on “X’’ are shaping up as a running dispute between the boys (Simon and LA) and the girls (Paula and Nicole). It’s all rather peevish and juvenile, especially on Simon’s part, but viewers get turned on by celebrities feuding with each other – so the “X’’ jurors are only too happy to oblige.
Trouble is, the snitty cat-and-dog fights distract from the tilt’s intended focus on its contestants, and that’s unfair to them. The competition is supposed to showcase the emerging talents, but the feuding jurors end up stealing the show. To make things worse, the finalists can’t fight back, for fear of getting on the jurors’ bad and surly side.
On the local singing tilt “Protégé,’’ the mentor system has similarly been put in place, with celebrity singers like Aiza Seguerra and Jay-R mentoring newbies they themselves discovered in regional auditions. What’s different about “Protégé’’ is that it has a separate board of jurors. Aiza and her fellow mentors concentrate on developing their bets’ talents.
The mentors occasionally get into messy disagreements, but not as much, or as colorfully, as the mentor-jurors on “X.” Cultural differences may be operative here, since Pinoys are traditionally less publicly confrontational than Amboys.
What really rankles on “Protégé” is the behavior of some of the contestants, who come off as dismally immature and insecure.
They’re constantly worrying, weeping, wailing wheedling, when all we want them to do is sing.
Are they being “encouraged’’ to behave so contentiously to make the competition more colorful and eventful? That’s par for local show biz’s self-serving course, but the trouble is, it makes the potential “singing stars of tomorrow’’ come off as much less than truly stellar, so it’s a major turn-off. Desist instantly, please – for your own good.
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