Why Don't We Back Our Talent Competitions?
Canada may have talent, but now we'll never know for sure. The first season of Canada's Got Talent — the Canadian attempt at the American and British television phenomena — will also be its last, according to a recent announcement that the nationwide talent competition will not be returning to Citytv next season. The announcement comes as a bit of a surprise, given how popular the Got Talent shows are elsewhere, not to mention the clout of Canada's Got Talent's celebrity judges (Martin Short, Measha Brueggergosman and Stephan Moccio). However, "after careful consideration of all factors, including the current economic climate," the show has been cancelled, according to a press release.
We really should have known this was coming. After all, it's been made abundantly clear over the past few years that Canada is not very good at importing the latest reality talent competition craze. Generally when Canada tries to take on these giant television extravaganzas, the shows eventually fold prematurely. But at least other attempts have lasted more than one pitiful season; this Canada's Got Talent news has us feeling especially low.
And it isn't as though we Canadians lack any interest at all in talent competitions. We contribute pretty solidly to the vast numbers of people who devotedly tune in to shows like American Idol and America's Got Talent. Yet the second Canadians are given the opportunity to be the nation's new idol or if they demonstrate some conviction that they might be the best dancers in the country, their fellow countrymen seem to neither believe them nor care. To call the demise of Canadian Idol, So You Think You Can Dance Canada and now Canada's Got Talent the result of economic difficulty is to only state part of what is arguably the much greater issue. If Canada were a little more enthusiastic about its own talent, we're pretty sure the money to sustain these shows would pop up somehow.
There is an exception to this Canadian talent show curse, and that is Canada Sings. Of course, it's not all that difficult to recognize why this might be the case. On shows like Canadian Idol and SYTYCDC, contestants require rather healthy egos if they wish to make it to the end. Confidence is part of what makes a winner, and no one is going to believe in the person who doesn't believe in themselves. And while this self-assurance may be a crucial ingredient in the contestants' success, it is not in keeping with Canada's infamous inferiority complex, which translates into an aversion and discomfort toward anyone who might dare claim extraordinary talent. Canada Sings, on the other hand, exclusively features underdogs who have no delusions that they are stars; in fact, the contestants on Canada Sings — who compete for a chance at winning money for a charity of their choice, as opposed to a recording contract and fame and fortune — most often need to be convinced they are capable of performing on a stage at all. They are the epitome of humility, and what Canadian isn't comfortable with that? Let the Americans be confident.
This is an issue whose solution is likely far more complex than we can ever conceive. We thought maybe some Clockwork Orange-style brainwashing might be a good place to start as a way to convince Canada at large that talented people both exist and deserve our support in this country, but that would take a while, and it's probably mostly illegal. We will say that very soon, CBC will be airing Over the Rainbow, a talent competition in search of the star of the new Canadian Andrew Lloyd Webber-produced production of The Wizard of Oz. We encourage you all to watch the show and vote for your favourite Dorothy. Because Canada's got talent; what we haven't quite got is enough interest.