Greg Dixon 's Opinion

Greg Dixon is deputy editor of Canvas.

Greg Dixon: So much crazy talent

Britney Spears and Simon Cowell try to out-nasty each other on the judges' bench. Photo / AP
Britney Spears and Simon Cowell try to out-nasty each other on the judges' bench. Photo / AP

It's only a fortnight since some crazed crazy unleashed on us innocents something called The Ridges, but I think you'll agree the world is already a lesser place. It's a divided world, one torn in two by fanatics on one side saying the Ridges should never be allowed to order a coffee on Ponsonby Rd again, while on the other there are zealots who will stop at nothing to buy up Sally's unique handcrafts on Trade Me. It's all very disturbing.

So thank goodness there was good news late last week - though I must confess I thought of it as bad news.

As I was about to flee my desk last Friday afternoon, announced that New Zealand was to finally have its own version of The X Factor, courtesy of TV3, the home of classy entertainment for old men in raincoats, and of New Zealand on Air, which had very generously handed out $1.6 million of our money on our behalf for yet more rubbish.

The X Factor? I'd never seen it, though I knew the drill. These shows are always about a bunch of nobodies who want to be somebodies, one of whom, after a lot of faffing about, wins a vote and briefly becomes a somebody who then, after a duff album or perhaps two, becomes a nobody again.

It is a winning TV formula that has different names and guises, including, to name two, The Voice, a cutting-edge Australian contest which finished last Friday with a 19-year-old former sex shop assistant beating a 40-year-old father of two, and New Zealand's Got Talent, which a couple of weeks back established for us where antediluvian reggae singers and ancient swimwear models go to die.

It turns out it is a purgatory of small boys with guitars singing about missing cats, fellows wearing T-shirts declaring their love of spooning with each other and people doing suggestive dancing to loud music. It's awful. Though I do hope that whoever eventually triumphs in New Zealand's Got Talent (in five years' time or whenever) will prove the exception to the rule that TV talent show winners in New Zealand might as well not have bothered.

However, I'm also sure that NZGT - or a Kiwi The X Factor- isn't going to produce someone as downright entertaining as Patrick Ford, a 20-year cashier from Loonyville, Rhode Island. He was a contestant on last Friday's episode of the American version of The X Factor. This is a programme that straight off the bat has two enormous assets: the repellent Simon Cowell and the mad-but-wonderful Britney Spears.

The 'X' in The X Factor this season seems to be Cowell and Spears locked in an exciting celebrity death match to be "the nasty judge" (my money is on Spears; the force is strong with anyone whose career can come back from shaving her head like a Hare Krishna). But for me, at least until the auditions end, it will be people like Patrick Ford - Pat to his imaginary friend - who make this show worth watching, even if it's only on fast-forward.

We Kiwis just have to accept that America has better, much more entertaining crazies than us. And Pat was pretty crazy. We knew this before he went out on stage because he declared with a straight face that Britney could be his sister. "I thought about [wearing] a blonde wig, but I thought it was too creepy."

Instead he brought out a bunch of flowers for Britney and backed up a truckload of creepiness on to the stage last Friday. It was just a shame for him that he brought absolutely no talent whatsoever.

He wasn't the only loon. Earlier we'd been introduced to a dancer called Lex. She was creepy in a different way, but mostly just thick as her makeup, which as someone pointed out was "10 shades whiter than what she is". Simon reckoned she was "Jersey Shore meets the Kardashians" - which seemed to suggest she wasn't very classy. This must have been why he declared there was "a lot of junk in that trunk" as she was leaving the stage.

Anyway Lex knew a thing or two. She knew the X-factor is called the X-factor because "there's not a word for it for a reason". There certainly wasn't a word for what she did on stage either.

Fortunately she had a Plan B even though she didn't seem to know she had a Plan B. She said: "'There is no Plan B for me. Either my dream comes true or I'll have to marry someone rich."

Laughs don't come any cheaper than this. I can't wait for round three.

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

Greg Dixon

Greg Dixon is deputy editor of Canvas.

It has been said the only qualities essential for real success in journalism are a rat-like cunning, a plausible manner and a little literary ability. Despite having none of these things, Canvas deputy editor Greg Dixon has spent more than 20 years working as a journalist for the New Zealand Herald and North & South and Metro magazines. Although it has been rumoured that he embarked on his journalism career as the result of a lost bet, the truth is that although he was obsessed by the boy reporter Tintin as a child, he originally intended to be an accountant. Instead, after a long but at times spectacularly bad stint at university involving two different institutions, a year as a studio radio programme director and a still uncompleted degree, he fell into journalism, a decision his mother has only recently come to terms with. A graduate of the Auckland Institute of Technology (now AUT) journalism school, he was hired by the Herald on graduation in 1992 and spent the next eight years demonstrating little talent for daily news, some for television reviewing and a passable aptitude for long-form feature writing. Before returning to the Herald in 2008 to take up his present role, he spent three years as a freelance, three as a senior feature writer at Metro and one as a staff writer at North & South. As deputy editor of Canvas, his main responsibility is applauding the decisions of the editor, Michele Crawshaw. However he prefers to spend his time interviewing interesting people -- a career highlight was a confusing 15-minute phone interview with a stoned Anna Nicole Smith -- and pretending to understand what they're going on about. He has won awards for his writing and editing, but would have preferred a pay rise.

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