It’s a YTT thang
Was the new Young Talent Time just another series re-birth driven by nostalgia or a platform for encouraging young creative talent? Andrew Georgiou comes screaming out of the YTT closet.
The only thing more confusing than being a nine-year-old in 1981 and having a simultaneous crush on two Young Talent Time members of opposite genders – Tina Arena and Joey Perrone – is being 40 years old and realising you just remained glued to an entire season of a series re-make you promised yourself you’d never watch.
My name is Andy, I am 40-years-old and it’s been days since my last Young Talent Time fix – the finale.
I hate TV about as much as Jocelyn Wildenstein loves facelifts – plenty. Mainly because it’s become a platform for tear-drenched fat people to be publicly weighed in wearing blood-clot inducing Lycra, bogan couples with Ikea-thin taste to renovate apartment blocks complete with homewares even lesbians wouldn’t touch and cooking show contestants who wouldn’t know Margaret Fulton from Margaret Pomeranz. But I do like talent.
I’ll be the first to admit that the promotional spots for the debut of YTT had me wanting to hurl a brick, George Foreman Griller, unread copy of Grazia and my right fist straight through the television screen. No one should be subjected to such a lethal number of precocious kids launching fatal doses of spirit fingers and running-man moves at you in under 30 seconds. It’s nothing short or reckless — or irresponsible editing at the very least.
What had I just witnessed? Where was the natural born talent of Tiny Tina circa 1978, Vince Del Tito and chunky little Courtney Compagnino? It seemed hip-hop, crumping-busting teens with Bieber-esque hair and crack-cocaine fuelled jazz hands had replaced them. I was confused, unimpressed and my eyes hurt a bit too.
Despite all this, I did watch the first episode – by default. My sister called me to say that one of the judges, Chucky Kaplow, was sporting the very same haircut my mother gave me when I was 11. She was right, and it hurt that it looked better on him.
What started as a fleeting glance rapidly evolved into me sitting four inches away from the screen to see if my beloved Tina had undergone any work. No confirmation but she looked tres gorgeous, so who cares. It wasn’t long before I was giving props to the cast who I only last week desperately wanted to slap. Now I was beginning to realise they had just as much passion as my original YTTers. Had I allowed their overly white teeth in that promo ad to literally blind me?
They were young, talented and seeing they were under 90, they certainly had time so they stayed true to the title of the show at the very least.
The real deal-sealer however was the fact that this wasn’t the usual assembly of non-descript cookie-cutter white kids Australian TV insists on selling to the public. This was the face of multicultural Australia complete with high kicks and hair whips. It was like the Geneva Convention of show kids with a Eurovision chaser. I spotted black, Asian, Indiana and European tweens with a ranga thrown in for colour and movement. The kind of minorities that are usually framed for murder, struck by lightning or eaten by sharks in Summer Bay, or scrub Paul Robinson’s toilet in Neighbours. If this kind of representation existed on TV in the 80s maybe I wouldn’t have been teased for my wog monobrow as a kid?
By the time the season (and possible series) finale had arrived I continued to give it my undivided attention between Grindr beeps. While the smorgasbord of contestants was random, the quality was Chivas Regal. Each week a knee-high Houdini, 17-year-old Michael Flatly (minus the sex addiction) or the occasional refugee with the voice of Mariah Carey would perform and be assessed by Tina, Chucky and guest judge – an assessment that almost always ends in encouragement, rather than bulimia and self cutting, as found in other build-em-up-and-tear-em-down TV talent shows. What’s more there wasn’t a blind audition, spinning chair or sobbing Delta in sight.
A confessional posting on Facebook confirmed I’m not alone in my secret affair with YTT. To my surprise (and relief) my queer comrades who would usually turn their nose up at the mainstream have also come out as YTT fans.
Is it because the show tapped into that 80s gay nerd kid within us all? Or simply because these kids expressed creativity rather than publicly shedding trans fats, displaying bad taste in home furnishings or fucking-up a soufflé before millions of television viewers?
Good night Australia.