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Young Talent Time

The problem with Reality TV

When Young Talent Time team member Aydan Calafiore was born 11 years ago, Channel Seven was running a show called Pop Stars. Hundreds of musical hopefuls lined up for auditions in the hope of being selected for stardom. It ran for a couple of years before disappearing from television.

Next up was Australian Idol which ran for 7 seasons (2003-2009), promising fame and fortune for one lucky singer. Some of these contestants, like Guy Sebastian, became household names; some of them even went on to become judges on other reality TV shows.

In Australian Idol's absence, shows like Australia’s Got Talent, X-Factor and now Young Talent Time fill the void, promising instant fame and musical success. There has never been a year in young Aydan Calafiore’s life when there hasn’t been a reality TV show looking to make somebody a star.

These shows seem like harmless entertainment - it’s inspiring to see young talent and it’s funny to watch people who clearly cannot sing. But what messages do shows like this actually send to young people?

Instant fame

When Cadel Evens was celebrating winning the Tour de France at 34 years of age on his 7th attempt, Australia’s Got Talent just crowned a new winner: Jack Vidgen. Jack’s path to fame couldn’t have been more different from Cadel’s. He didn’t have to try and fail; he experienced instant fame at 14 years of age. We would all rather take the easy path to fame and fortune, but who do you think is in a better position to handle the traps and snares of a life of fame: Cadel or Jack?

Self-centred dreams

When Young Talent Time team member Adrien Nookadu was interviewed by Channel Ten’s The Project, he was asked where he was hoping the show would take him. He replied, “Look I want to be a huge star, that’s my dream and always has been. I just want to be big and show everyone what I can do as a musician.” There’s nothing inherently bad about pursuing a musical career, but if your goal is to become famous for the sake of being famous that’s selfish. It’s selfish, because your dream benefits no one; the only person on earth to be better off for your fame is you. However, there are good ways to use fame other than just for the sake of 'being big'. Consider stars like U2’s Bono and how he uses his fame to promote the cause of justice for the third world (check out this video as an example).

More famous than God

The desire to be famous isn’t new. In Genesis 11 people gather and decide to build the Tower of Babel because it will make them famous (Genesis 11:4). John Lennon of The Beatles once famously said that “We are more famous then Jesus now”. We have a sinful desire to be more famous then God. We desire to have people worshipping us instead of us having to worship God. We dream of being served rather than serving others. Reality TV tends to feed this illusion that you will be worshipped by thousands of adoring fans. Unfortunately it isn’t true. Reality TV spits out far more contestants who don't become famous, and even the ones who do become famous are not famous for very long.

You will never find meaning and purpose by becoming a huge star. Jesus has something better for our lives then chasing fame for the sake of fame. He calls you to be part of his movement of redeeming lives and changing the world. Jesus is the only hope for humanity. He’s the one who should get all the fame.