15 Things That Don’t Require Qualifications or Talent

imageWith the impending GCSE results due out tomorrow, the topic was already trending in the early hours of this morning on Twitter with thousands of teenagers anxiously waiting to see how they had fared, many of them already dismayed at the fact that grade boundaries for certain subjects had been raised… again.

At school, I was a high achiever who enjoyed the process of learning. I worked hard with the belief that qualifications were the be all and end all to everything that would make my life successful and happy in the future, and even after doing my A levels and a degree, my GCSE exams still remain as one of the scariest and most stressful experiences I’ve ever had.

And yet, eighteen years of life after leaving school (and spending ten years working as a teacher) has made me realise that, while qualifications on paper are important, there is more to success than just being able to understand what the value of X is, or have a working knowledge of a meander, or knowing how many wives Henry VIII had.

Here are fifteen things that require no qualifications or talent: Continue reading

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Why I Hate Reality TV

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It’s Saturday night and I’m being forced to watch an awful TV programme in which a group of Z list ‘celebrities’ are attempting to impersonate famous singers to try and win £10,000 for the charity of their choice. The charity focus is designed to hide the fact that it’s a cheap, tacky re-make of a show that existed in the 1990’s, and they’ve officially run out of new ideas. I wouldn’t mind, as the participants can actually sing, but they sound nothing like the person they are trying to emulate, making the show pointless.

I hate reality TV and talent competitions. Actually, ‘hate’ is quite a loose term. I loathe it. Detest it. Abhor it. I avoid it at all costs.

I never used to feel like this. Years ago, programmes that were based on reality competitions were the highlight of my week. The very first series of ‘Popstars,’ in which the band ‘Hearsay’ was formed from the eventual winners was riveting, and I remember my whole family excitedly waiting for the final line-up to be revealed.

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When ‘Big Brother’ hit the screens in the UK it initially went unnoticed. However, as time passed it became a phenomenon, helped by the exploits of ‘Nasty Nick,’ and his game-playing tactics in the house. The winner of the first series was Craig, a down-to-earth builder who donated all of his £70,000 winnings to Joanne, a girl with Downs Syndrome who needed an operation. He became one of the most recognised faces in the country, and has managed to carve out a decent career in his trade.

Years later, reality TV has taken on a different dimension entirely. There are two main categories: talent-based competitions and documentary formats.

Talent shows bombard our screens – ‘X Factor,’ ‘Britain’s Got Talent,’ ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’ ‘The Voice,’ ‘Dancing On Ice,’ ‘I’m A Celebrity,’ and ‘Strictly Come Dancing,’ are just a few that have been shown in the last decade. Reality documentaries follow ‘celebrities’ around as they live their privileged lives. ‘Real Housewives,’ ‘The Only Way Is Essex,’ ‘Jersey Shore,’ ‘Geordie Shore,’ ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians,’ and ‘The Hills,’ are just a few examples, and aside from ‘Made In Chelsea,’ (which I watch occasionally when there is nothing else on, much to the annoyance of The Bloke) I can honestly say that I haven’t watched any of them with any regularity or interest – I like to have background noise while I’m working.

There are several things that particularly irritate me:

1. Sob stories: Introductory stories of contestants will usually tell the story of a loss that they have faced. They’ll go into the audition and then we see them crying and praying with their Nan when they are successful, accompanied by the instrumental version of Take That’s ‘Rule The World.’

2. Talent and/or integrity is not necessarily a requirement: A weirdo generally stands more of a chance of getting through in a reality competition because they will provide more of an entertaining line-up. Don’t believe me? Check out Wagner and Jedward on the UK X Factor. It is also not required for a reality documentary format – the perfect example being Honey Boo-Boo. She may be a child, but she is a precocious little moron and it annoys me that she gets publicity when there are children her age who genuinely possess an outstanding talent and aren’t afforded the same opportunities because they know how to conduct themselves like a normal human being.

3. The false praise: I’ve lost count of the amount of times where I’ve seen a judge praise an AWFUL, eardrum bending performance just for the sake of the viewer. While I dislike Simon Cowell, I respect him for his occasional honesty when he informs contestants that they are crap.

4. The same formula: regardless of the subject of these competitions, each follows exactly the same format. Compete, fight, bitch, squabble, one person leaves.

5. They just keep going and going: each series of reality TV programmes always become more extreme. Awkward situations and fights are deliberately caused to make more interesting viewing, and the shows are edited to make conflict seem far more intense than they actually are. Participants almost become caricatures of themselves.

6. Documentary formats aren’t ‘reality,’ they’re set up and scripted, and poorly acted with it.

I think I’ll stick with working through my DVD collection – at least I know they’re going to keep me entertained. Or I could just go and pull all my fingernails out one by one.

Image credit: bangsandabun.com

What about you guys? Do you love or loathe reality tv?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog