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On The Sympathy Vote On ‘America’s Got Talent’

Jack Tomas

Jack Tomas

One thing we hear a lot of in our comment section is that performers sometimes progress on AGT, or any of the other talent competition shows, because of their sad stories and not because of their talent. It’s a complicated issue because there is some truth to the producers exploiting an artist’s story to make them more compelling, but is it really ALL about that.

Last week AGT hopeful Evie Clair’s father passed away after his year-long battle with cancer. We posted a story about it and most of the commenters were very kind offering words of condolence and love to Evie and her family. Then there were the others who decided that they wanted to use the opportunity to talk about how the only reason she’d gotten this far in the competition was because of her dad being sick and that she was probably going to win because her dad died.


Insensitive? Absolutely. They are totally discounting Evie’s natural talent. But it is a feature of these shows that the producers love to play up people’s stories of adversity and triumph. Why? The most important element in creating dramatic tension is conflict. If a character has no conflict they can be boring, a “Mary Sue”, to use the popular colloquialism. So, anything that the producers can use to create more drama, they are going to do it.

For example singer Kechi. You would have to have a cold, cold heart to not be moved by her story of surviving a plane crash and sustaining horrible injuries only to make it all the way to the AGT stage. But is that why she has come this far or is it because she’s a great singer? The reason I don’t think the sob story factor is as important as some people make it to be is because the winners are rarely ever there only because of their story. Your real life tragedies are only going to get you so far.

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pineconethoughts
pineconethoughts
4 years ago

But reality is.. the “sad” story does get you a certain distance and if that is true… it is also valid to comment on it. As a viewer, I do want to know about Ketchi’s scars and how she got them for they are a part of her… you see them. Hers is a beautiful story of overcomiing. With Evie, it came across, to many, that the show exploited a family tragendy (but then the family was willing) for viewership. There is a fine line and I for one believe AGT crossed it.

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