Helen Razer’s Reality Recap : The Voice Verdict
If, like me, you are afflicted with the chronic and debilitating condition of Taste in Arse, you spent Monday night watching The Voice. If, like me, you are culturally unwell, you then spent a good deal of the following day wondering (a) how to go on living in a world without a show featuring such compelling swivel chairs (b) why Delta was dressed like a re-heatable dinner and (c) if it should not, in fact, be illegal for anyone from any reality television program ever to use the word “journey” ever again.
Seriously. These people have murdered the usefulness of the term “journey” for us all. I can no longer employ it even in reference to public transport. On Monday, I endured the third of three wisdom tooth extractions and my doctor had prescribed me some powerful analgesics to manage the post-surgical agony. Every time someone said “journey” I winced and looked at the pills wondering if they could deliver me from the abuse of this poor little noun. If I had taken one for each emotional misuse of “journey”, I would have been clinically dead by 8.
My singing journey. My emotional journey. My magical sunshine-and-hope spattered journey through the valley of the double rainbow on the back of a unicorn named Craig. “My Journey” is a term that serves not only as the title of winner Karise Eden’s album (yes, they really DID call it that) but, as a potent symbol for all that is wrong with The Voice.
To be fair, there has been a great deal that is right with The Voice. I’m thinking chiefly here of Joel Madden and Seal who have together worked tirelessly to revive the libidos of middle-aged women across the nation. Oh. Come on. Don’t pretend you haven’t ever once asked your husband to wear a studded leather vest or a white Capri pant these past weeks as he whispers “I really feel you honestly connecting with me through song” before the point of climax. There’s no shame in it.
But, there is some shame in the word “journey” and all that it implies.
Now, I love a heart-warming story as much as the next chick and tales of redemption through talent are okay by me. But, the 8 Mile lure of overcoming-the-odds had all but run out on Monday as we heard, for the eleventy-millionth time, about the “bravery” of all those on the “journey”.
Life is awash enough with tragedy without having more of it manufactured by Nine. And, my goodness, did they hose us all down with sentiment on last night’s duet finale. I found myself particularly impatient with the many references to Rachael’s vision-impairment. “She’s so brave”, said one former team mate. “She’s an inspiration,” said another. “She’s a brave inspiration” said a plush-toy unicorn in the corner.
While I am prepared to concede that courage is required for any appearance on television, I cannot agree that we should receive a vision-impaired person more enthusiastically than anybody else. Frankly, to do so is an act of bull-poop condescension. Folks with blindness crave charitable applause about as much as they want you to move the furniture around without telling them. And I am can make this observation because, like Rachael, I am a stumbling blindly with non-correctable vision. As such, and on the behalf of many people with disabilities, I would ask that you reserve your use of “bravery” for those people who genuinely deserve it: paramedics, explorers, fire-fighters and anyone who wants to come around to my house and call me effing brave to my face.
Anyhow. “Bravery”. Use it as sparingly as “Journey”, for the love of all that is good.
Speaking of “good”, there was no evidence of it in the opening act. After dozens of people I didn’t recognise ritually disembowelled a Fleetwood Mac song, the Joel-Sarah duet unfolded. Sadly, quality was in short supply here, too. There were some excellent fireworks but these did little to improve a tune that was, apparently, by something called “Bruno Mars” and seemed to have a lyric about turnips. However, Delta did stand on her swivel chair to show her appreciation which served to remind us all (a) how much we will miss this special furniture and (b) that her frock made her look very much like a Crunchie bar.
The human confection continued in sugary mien as she and Rachael became one with The Prayer. Do these women share ovaries now? They’re almost certainly cycling together. On Sunday, Rachael had written a song about Delta. On Monday, Delta reprised one of her own hits in duet. To call this relationship narcissistic is a little bit like calling Delta’s frock “quite shiny”. Dude. We’re gonna need a spatula to separate this single ego-organism.
I believe the technical term for what Keith Urban did was “sing his country nuts off”. Actually, I had no idea that Urban could sing and was pleasantly surprised to hear him channelling Jimmie Rodgers with a bloke of whom he had clearly become reasonably fond, Darren Percival. For mine, it was the least painful sound of the evening.
But, Karise offered us the most ragged sound; and this has long been her strength. Although much has been overly made of her hardship, there is a note of authenticity to the voice and the manner that not even the Nine network can exploit and slaughter. Her Many Rivers to Cross duet with Seal may have been appended with some of the soppiest dialogue ever upchucked on Australian television (I can’t be sure but I THINK Seal said he had been reborn) but, heavens, can that young lady sing with ardour.
Somehow or another, the Eden we have seen probably resembles the Eden that actually exists. She served up her insides again last night and extinguished, once and for all, the hopes of any other.
Most often, what reality TV gives us is pornographically exploitative emotion that allows us to cycle through Teen Diary highs and lows every week. Sometimes, despite itself, reality television serves up the real. Congrats to the “real” Karise: may you long remain convincingly life-like.
Helen Razer is an occasional broadcaster, frequent writer and incessant yabber-pants. Follow her on twitter at @HelenRazer or read her blog
Images via The Voice