Belfast Telegraph

Fresh fears X Factor is exploiting vulnerable stars

By Adrian Rutherford

Janet Devlin will perform live on tonight’s X Factor amid concerns that the show’s contestants are being “sacrificed” for public consumption.



The shy teenager will temporarily put the heartbreak of her grandfather’s death to one side by taking to the stage just hours after his funeral.

It has raised fresh questions about the programme, and whether vulnerable contestants are being exploited.

There have been controversies already this year, including allegations that a 54-year-old widow was “humiliated” in auditions.

This week a study by a team of academics claimed The X Factor uses the “cruelty of rejection” to appeal to audiences.

Speaking last night, its co-author Professor Stephen Brown said the programme was a modern version of 19th century human sacrifice.

Mr Brown, professor of marketing research at the University of Ulster, did not want to speak directly about Janet, but said the programme was akin to a sacrificial demand which went back to the beginning of time.

“Simon Cowell has stated quite clearly that as far as he is concerned, The X Factor is not a music show or a talent show, it’s a soap opera,” he said.

X Factor bosses offered Janet the chance to pull out of tonight’s programme, but she decided to sing as a tribute to her grandfather.

Director of Parenting NI Jackie Valentine said it was vital the teenager was offered support.

“In a way she is paying her respects to her grandfather by going ahead, but underneath it all she will be affected by his death and it’s very important she’s allowed time to grieve,” she said.

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