Despite the obvious differences, Animal Planet’s Confessions: Animal Hoarding and Fox’s X Factor are actually very similar. They are both retreads of existing shows, they both (supposedly) chronicle the lives of delusional people, and most importantly, they both exploit the hell out of their subjects. That said, I thought a show about people living ankle-deep in cat shit would be more exploitative than a simple singing competition. How very wrong I was. Confessions: Animal Hoarding seems like a Ken Burns documentary when compared to Simon Cowell’s latest shit show.
Let’s start out with Confessions: Animal Hoarding. This show is basically Intervention, except instead of “helping” people who are addicted to drugs, it “helps” people who are addicted to kitty cats. Last night we followed Mike, a chef whose small home had been overrun with cats to the point where his wife had left and he was forced to live in a camper. Keep in mind, this was not some elaborate scheme to get rid of the wife. Watching a man shoveling cat excrement off his kitchen floor is bad enough, but knowing he’s a member of the food service industry made it even more disturbing.
Then we have X Factor. From what I can tell, there are only two differences between this show and American Idol. First off, the black guy is skinnier and doesn’t say “dog.” Second, rather than having the auditions in a private room with the judges, they take place in a stadium filled with thousands of people. That might not seem like a big deal until you watch an elderly couple making fools of themselves in front of a live audience. For example, Dan and Venita, who are a combined age of 153. The people in charge of picking the contestants saw fit to wave this couple through to the judges table so that they could do this on national television…
But X Factor doesn’t stop with the elderly. Why should it when there is so much fresh meat available in the form young children. For example, there was 13-year-old Rachel Crow who the press is already gushing about. Sure, I guess she’s “adorable.” But I’ll bet the adorableness wears off in about five years once Hollywood has spit her out and she’s turning tricks for crank in the Ralph’s parking lot on Sunset. But hey, maybe she can keep the fame-train going with a stint on Intervention. Circle of life, ya know?
To be clear, both shows are awful, and both shows take advantage of their subjects. But at the end of the day, at least Confessions: Animal Hoarding supposedly helps the people involved, and they manage to do it without the pseudo-inspirational top-40 soundtrack. Mike the cat-hoarding chef ended up with a therapist and a clean house. All Dan and Venita got was humiliated.
Yes, X Factor’s contestants chose to be on TV. No one is holding a gun to their heads, although I imagine quite a few of them have probably held guns to their own heads. And in all fairness, the winner of X Factor will get a $5 million recording contract, not to mention their own Pepsi ad. As Paula Abdul pointed out, “To have a commercial is above and beyond any wild dream that any artist could have.”
Even so, I’d rather watch a guy swim in cat poop than sit through X Factor ever again.