Top four final contestants of 2011 Super Girl [From ent.hunantv.com]
The sign of China falling into the same commercial traps that hold most of the western audience captive became apparent during the latest Super Girl singing contest.
A furor broke out online with posts proclaiming the injustice of the result. People question whether the voting process is transparent or relevant and if the winner had already been predetermined.
Either way, the heated debate is good news for the producers of the show and the performers themselves. These sorts of controversies are potentially publicity goldmines.
That is precisely why they should be viewed with skepticism and distain by the rest of us.
The reality shows are commercial products concerned with ratings and profits. If that coincides with the best singer winning the contest, great! But what happens when the best singer is not commercially viable? What if they don't have the right body shape or aren't attractive enough for the mainstream music market to generate sales later on? No problem. Ensure all the final contestants have the "right look," then the best singer out of that bunch can win regardless of whether the one with the golden voice falls by the wayside in an earlier round.
Similar TV contests in the west often contain the same questionable results, but those have manifested into a whole pantomime of contentious issues that dominate public discussion and large timeslots of the media - often at the expense of more worthy news items.
The producers know that the shenanigans attract viewers and have raised it to a new level by simply turning the whole process into some sort of bad soap opera.
Judges frequently quarrel until that scenario becomes tired, and then they break off discussions and refuse to speak with one another. After that comes either the make-up or break-up of the panel - either a sickly show of pretentious friendship as they embrace or floods of crocodile tears as one or both of them are banished from the show with a substantial severance payment to ease their sorrow.
All of these elements are a part of the production alongside the singing contest. It is a clever ploy to hook the viewer into believing they are watching a musical form of reality TV.
This hype isn't just confined to the TV programs. High circulation magazines and newspapers frequently run sensationalist stories surrounding the shows, adding to the illusion that the events are true to life.
What is amazing: so many people are caught up in it all and believe it is real. Even if you are an avid fan of the show, are friends of the performers or simply casual music enthusiasts, it's important to realize this is entertainment and not reality.
Once recognized for what they are, the reality shows can be enjoyed on that superficial level. Great entertainment they may be, but a true gauge of the best singer it certainly isn't. Watch, enjoy and debate with all means, but when it comes to being angry at the results, it may be best to save that passion for some of the real injustices in this world.
The author is a communications professional, film maker and published writer with a keen interest in life.
Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of China.org.cn.