5 Reasons John and Edward are Still in X Factor
Need Any More Proof X Factor is Not About Talent?
John and Edward ("Jedward" for you abbreviators) are the current X Factor equivalent of American Idol's Sanjaya Malakar. No matter how badly they perform, they just keep surviving in the competition. There always seems to be at least one act each year that makes you scratch your head, but John and Edward are so bad that Simon Cowell called their performance "appalling" in the last live show. The only saving grace for shows like X Factor is that acts like John and Edward almost never win. They just provide a lot of water-cooler talk until their delayed but eventual demise.
Indeed, no sane person could help but think that ratings and shock value are the only reasons they were even picked for the live shows. They have never showed any real talent from the first audition until now except some awkward but somewhat comical dancing moves. In fact, they have showed obvious arrogance in the audition rounds, but they honestly have cut down on the arrogance and seem to actually be somewhat serious about trying to put on good performances.
No one really knows exactly why an act gets votes on these reality competition shows, but there has to be some reason why guys like John and Edward are getting votes despite being so roundly criticized for their lack of talent. I can think of at least five reasons.
1. Vote for the Underdog
There are at least three strong tendencies in some (but not all) human beings when it comes to rooting for sports teams or contestants: regional or local rooting, jumping on the bandwagon and rooting for the favorite, and rooting for the underdog. Clearly, John and Edward have been cast as huge underdogs on X Factor. This wouldn't even be debatable by even the somewhat silent people who are voting for them. With the exception of very young or unsophisticated voters, no one can deny their underdog status. Voting or rooting for an underdog is a natural tendency for some. No amount of talent or lack of talent is going to sway these voters. It is ingrained in their very fiber as a human being, and John and Edward will get at least some of their votes until the boys meet their demise in the contest.
I have literally seen comments online where voters stated that they threw someone some votes because they felt sorry for them. It's one thing to vote for a talented contestant that has a bad week, but it's another to vote for someone purely out of sympathy. This is closely related to Reason #1 above. Some people just feel sorry for an underdog like John and Edward. This is emotion-based voting and is not based on logic at all. And this is the exact reason society will never be a true meritocracy - too many people base their decisions on emotion instead of logic. I'm not saying that's a terrible thing. I just wish that merit and hard work played a bigger part than emotion.
3. Fooled By the Visual Choreography
John and Edward have had some interesting, energetic choreography for their performances. It is so clear that they've been given some of the best choreography during this season of X Factor. People are easily fooled by this. And why are they fooled? First, it is not their choreography. The show choreographer is obviously arranging the performances. Now, this might not be such a big deal if Jedward truly pulled off this choreography. But it is apparent by even a casual look that they are consistently out of sync. But if someone is so easily fooled by their choreography advantage given to them by the show, then that same voter can't possibly be expected to see how out of sync they are. In a way, this is brilliant. Give the worst singers the best choreography, and some voters will fall for it hook, line, and sinker.
4. Going Against the Judges
I think this is a small factor, as there is little evidence to suggest that the judges' comments actually affect the voting. But it is interesting that people who often get the worst comments survive. It is a common theory that Simon, in particular, uses reverse psychology to get the desired outcome that he wants. The best evidence of this is that he could easily deny contestants like John and Edward a place in the live voting shows. But there they are even though we all know what Simon really thinks about them.
Some people will hear bad comments from judges and think that they need to "even out" the fairness. They think it's unfair that the judges' comments may affect the outcome, so they seek to make it even again by voting for those acts. However, this is an unproven theory. I'm sure a few people do this, but it's likely not enough by itself to affect the outcome on a regular basis.
The most famous group of sabotage artists is the Vote For The Worst group that claims to try to sabotage American Idol. This is also unlikely to affect the competition to a large degree, as their picks routinely get voted out, anyway. They sometimes claim credit for Taylor Hicks' win on American Idol. Of course, this is hogwash, and even they know it. Taylor may not have commercial music, but he was a very popular contestant, and it was no surprise that he won once Chris Daughtry was eliminated in fourth place. Besides that, most of those guys wouldn't waste their time voting on a TV show contest. They would rather spend their time thinking of the next insult and posting it on the site, hoping to get "cool" points from their fellow ignoramuses.
Nonetheless, there will always be some saboteurs who try to go against the grain. This is likely to be a very small number of people, though. In a close case, it might affect the bottom voting results, but it would likely never determine the winner.
Perhaps the biggest reason an act like John and Edward survives so long is the simple fact that talent, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. I have had discussions with kids but also discussions with fans with advanced college degrees. Across the board, most people don't really think about talent when deciding what they like. They just know what they like, and that's what they are going to support. Sometimes, it is simply the song that people vote for. Personally, though, I will not be shedding tears when John and Edward finally take the boot.