You know what? I’m actually starting to feel a little bit sorry for Katie Waissel, this year’s X Factor hate figure. In this evening’s results show she once again ended up in the bottom two (the third time she’s faced the sing-off) along with can’t-even-spell-her-own-name TreyC, but while on previous occasions she produced a barnstorming final performance to be saved by the judges, tonight she effectively had a mental breakdown in the middle of the song. Not only did she forget the words, but she ended up sitting down on the stage, pleading “please don’t give up on me” over and over again. Even though the song’s lyrics leant themselves to this improvisation, it was really uncomfortable to watch.
The number of tabloid stories that have been circulating about Waissel since Cheryl Cole chose to pick her for her final three (later four, with the wildcards) over Gamu have been pretty ridiculous. Who knows how many are actually true? There was a kiss-and-tell article about her relationship with Michael Sophocles from The Apprentice, and various pieces about her ruthless ambition and how far she’ll go (and has gone) to get fame.
Well, now she has it. But I don’t think that it’s quite what she had in mind. Her family (again, if you believe the newspapers) have been encouraging her to quit the show, but she’s decided to carry on. Despite the fact that I think she does herself no favours by seeming more than a little bit fake, and that she’s in no way the most talented singer in the competition, I do respect her for sticking to her guns when the media and no small amount of the public are dead set on vilifying her.
Katie’s breakdown, and the subsequent wimp-out by Cheryl who refused to choose which of her two acts she wanted to send home (TreyC was eventually eliminated by majority vote), will no doubt fuel yet more controversy in the newspapers and further negative articles about Waissel. It’s easy to see tonight’s result as another piece of “evidence” that she’s being kept in simply because X Factor bosses allegedly bought out her recording contract in the States in order for her to participate in the show (yet another story that we still don’t know for sure is true). It fits what people see as a pattern, and it’s only going to make things worse.
But the continual sniping is starting to resemble bullying to me, and while Katie Waissel is far from my cup of tea, I don’t think she’s really done much to deserve it. This is a young woman’s life that’s in danger of being ruined by the circling vultures of the tabloids. And the public is, as usual, falling for it hook, line and sinker. Judging by Katie’s breakdown this evening in front of over fifteen million viewers, the way the media is covering the show this year, and directly influencing public opinion in the process, is irresponsible to say the least.