November 11, 2003 | Graham

SMS GUY to 1889966

Politics is everywhere, and politics is entertainment, especially on reality TV. Take Australian Idol. The lobbying has begun in such earnest that even the On Line Opinions email forum has been subjected to spam soliciting a vote for Shannon Noll. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Well, check Idol here, Noll there, and while you’re at it, click on Guy Sebastian, otherwise the rest of this entry won’t make much sense. You also need to get your mind around the “guided democracy” model which is Australian Idol.
Each week contestants appear in elimination rounds – they started out with hundreds. After performing, critiques (using the word loosely) of the performances are delivered by a panel of three judges – Mark Holden, Marcia Hines and Ian Dickson. But in a twist that differentiates this from every other talent show, viewers get to vote by phone and sms for their favourite performer and it is this vote, not what the judges think, that determines who progresses.
I’ve only watched the show a couple of times, but Guy Sebastian is out there on his own. He has an aura about him which is not just due to the studio lights picking up highlights in his afro but which just seems to flow from some internal manifestation of innocence. I’m tempted to call it Karma, especially as with his Malaysian heritage, chubby cheeks and a Ghandi like habit of saying thank-you by bowing with his hands in a waist high prayer position, he looks like a garden gnome Buddha. Whatever it is, he’s got it, as they say. Which is his greatest risk in the competition and the reason I am going to do something which I would normally find embarrassing. Yes, I am going to improve the Telstra bottom line, and the show’s economics by SMSing “GUY” to 1889966, and urging you to do the same. Here’s why.
Both of these finalists are (or appear to be, this is TV…) nice guys, and one is so clearly better than the other that some viewers (who are apparently predominantly teenage girls) may well feel sympathy (and/or lust) for the also ran. While that won’t improve his voice, which is scratchy and with a limited range, it might lead a large number of viewers to vote for him. On the other hand, those people like me, who are reticent to participate in a teen music orgy and begrudge Telstra the extra dosh may well say, “Well, he’s clearly the best so he doesn’t need my vote to win.” A post hoc rationalisation for inertia, but one of the most potent forces in Australian politics today. The potential result is that second best wins. I hate injustice, particularly accidental injustice, so I’m going to vote.
This is the reason that John Howard consistently asserts that the next election is going to be tough, and would have been happy to see recent polling putting the ALP ahead. Not that there is much chance of Howard morphing into Guy Sebastian – John’s more your standard garden gnome. Perhaps when Howard retires he could take over running campaigns for reality TV contestants. He mightn’t like the music, but he’d understand the dynamics better than most. Wonder how Paul Keating would go – he used to manage rock bands didn’t he…?

Posted by Graham at 6:55 am | Comments (1) |
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1 Comment

  1. Why Sms GUY TO Australian Number?
    It’s Not Counted

    Comment by Why Sms GUY TO Australian Number? — December 26, 2003 @ 8:01 pm

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