Julia Exploited 26

Nadira and I spoke with Julia Naidenko this afternoon before her performance tonight in the semi-final of Britain’s Got Talent, and she had been crying. She said they were forcing her to dance to music that was totally unsuitable, and not allowing her choreography.

Interestingly, she said that the same thing had happened at the first round televised audition. She had taken with her a CD of Arabic drum music to do a traditional belly dance, but had not been allowed to do it, and instead told to dance to Shakira and with a more pop choreography.

That contradicts the whole carefully presented image of the show, of which the story line is that at the auditions the acts just turn up and nobody knows what exactly they are going to do.

That image of spontaneity was manifest most spectacularly in the case of Susan Boyle, where the video made famous on You Tube pretends that the judges did not even know she was a singer or whether she would be any good. The judges then proceeded to manifest what, when you know the truth, you can see is terribly ham acted astonishment.

In fact, just as Julia had her music and choreography altered before her audition, the show would have already seen Susan Boyle, have known exactly what Susan Boyle was going to do, how good she was, and had quite probably chosen the song for her. I bet even the clunking jaw dropping of the judges was rehearsed.

The “Susan Boyle moment” was a brilliantly produced fake.

Anyway, back to poor Julia. Today she was made to dance to Lady Marmalade, which was totally inappropriate in every way for a belly dancer, and made her look just like a Vegas showgirl.

I should say that I am very, very proud of Julia. She picked herself up, made the best anybody possibly could of it, and performed a kind of dance that is not her own with such elegance and allure as almost to redefine the medium. And she looked absolutely stunning. But I know that she feels unhappy, not that she didn’t get through to the final, but that she never did get allowed to show her own dance to her own music.

Don’t worry, Julia. Your niceness and decency shone through, you moved like a dream and a million people fell in love with you. Your friends are proud of you. You are a wonderful, graceful and intelligent woman. You don’t need to chase faked dreams..

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26 thoughts on “Julia Exploited

  • NomadUK

    Simon Cowell produces television that misleads his audiences? I am shocked, shocked I tell you.

  • Vronsky

    Oh, for heaven’s sake, Craig! Didn’t you realise it was all staged crap? And that includes the dreadful turns who are deliberately inserted, with their consent, for popular ridicule. Ironic that the sort of ‘music’ that succeeds in these shows is unlistenably awful anyway.

  • johnkeep

    It doesn’t say much about your self-proclaimed smartness and your insight into the media when you think there is anything spontaneous about this baloney.


  • Suhayl Saadi

    In addition to all of that, in the specific form which this exploitation assumed, it’s possible that they were manifesting and exploiting the very deeply-rooted Orientalism in this culture, which says something like: ‘belly-dancing’ cannot be respected in its own right in its multifarious forms, but must always conform to the current model of what the gatekeepers of the West think is appropriate, i.e. Las Vegas show-girl/ pole-dancer, etc. Your friend was put into a box.

  • Craig

    johnkeep, Vronsky,

    Where precisely did I say, or even imply, that I personally ever believed in the spontaneity of it?

    Obviously regular readers of this blog are not likely to buy media presentation. But there are many thousands of casual readers of this blog. And tens of millions of people have indeed bought into it.

    So many people need explained to them that it is fake, and need to be given the supporting evidence of why it is fake – eg Julia’s evidence. And if you want to convince anybody, you don’t do it by snorting contempt at them like johnkeep, happy in his personal bubble of self-righteous enlightenment.

    There has in fact been very little posted on the web to give you an actual insight behind the smoke and mirrors of what is a major cultural phenomenon.

  • robin

    Read Ben Elton’s book: “Chart Throb”. Not saying it’s all true – it’s a novel FFS – but Elton is experienced in the world of the media. It’s written by an insider.

  • johnkeep

    “There has in fact been very little posted on the web to give you an actual insight behind the smoke and mirrors of what is a major cultural phenomenon.”

    Really ? I seem to remember a scandal over fake phone-ins, rigged competitions last year. What makes this any different ?

    It’s showbusiness, your friend Julia is just unfortunate that her style evidently isn’t what Cowell and co. want to punt this year. Perhaps she shouldn’t have had a wash for a couple of weeks before the show. Rags to riches seems to be flavour of the month.

    That’s the point. It is manufactured popularity for financial gain.

    Other than that, good blog.

  • JimmyGiro

    Totally agreed Craig,

    Once upon a time it was war that excused public lies, but now society is willing to eat shit and pay for it.

    As long as we have our bread and circuses, who needs integrity?

  • lescaff

    But why did she go along with it?

    Why didn’t she stand up to these hypocritical b*ggers and tell them to stuff themselves, but in nicer language? Stood up for her art, kind of thing.

    By going along with it, she then became one of their pawns instead of staying her own woman.

    If she had refused to conform to their blinkered thinking and then gone public with this, I can’t help but think that she would have gained massive public support.

    Shame she didn’t make the final, after all that.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I see your point, Lescaff, but the chances are, she’d have been dropped and no-one would have bothered to pick up ‘the story’. If she’d done it during the recording – made a speech and walked off, say – it would’ve been edited out.

    I don’t pay much attention to the show so I have no idea whether or not it’s ‘live’ or ‘live-with-a-time-delay’. If live, they would have just switched off her mike and gone to Camera Three. There is no way around this, they have total control. It is very difficult indeed to say no because you have zero power and then they just drop you – this is true not just of this type of show but of most mainstream media presentations, whether circuses or gladiatorial combat.

    If you start to say something that really questions the underlying assumptions – lies – which undergird power – the interviewer gets a little message in his earpiece that says, “Go to commercials, now. Wind it up, fast” And you don’t get invited on, ever again. Even people like Gore Vidal have experienced this type of thing. I have, too. As you say, pawn is the word.

  • Abe Rene

    You have done well to expose these exploiters, just as you have exposed worse villains. But here’s an idea, if it’s of any use: perhaps Julia could make her own video, and post it on her own website with a message saying something like ‘Here! This is what I can actually do, and would have, if a bunch of liars hadn’t prevented me!’

  • Chris

    My next door neighbour was on that show last year – got to the semi finals at least but was reporting exactly the same issues that Craig raises.

    It seems that even the brief question and answer sessions the performers are given feature answers that you are told to repeat verbatim. C’est la vie.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    One could say that the moral of the story is: never dance to someone else’s tune (sorry!).

    Though of course, we all do, one way or another.

  • frank verismo

    Some two years ago now I decided the best possible course of action regarding the propaganda/bullsh*t machine that is television was to exile it from my home – permanently.

    As a result, I’m blissfully unaware of the delights of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ and am hardly ever exposed to the pillar of smugness that is Simon Cowell. What joy!

    All the same, the expose is appreciated, Craig – serving as it does to illustrate the real purpose of tv and, hopefully, help others make the break – and pull the plug.

  • falloch

    When I watched Julia’s Youtube vid, I was bewildered: She’s a very attractive woman, but was not really belly-dancing, and I felt like I’d been conned. Now I know why and it makes me even angrier at the ‘Britain’s got talent’ that I was before! But Abe Rene, you have a great idea: definitely get Julia to post herself dancing HER OWN dance. I’m sure there’s lots of people at this site and others who would repost it everywhere!

  • Neell

    I went to a Restaurant for a friends birthday and she works there dancing, she dances very well to proper Belly Dancing music. Everything in showbizz is planned, there is no surprise to it, even the first year of Paul Pots, im sure he didnt actually win the votes since he couldnt even win his semi final votes and judges had to put him through. Then you get last years too, which was probably closer but i dont know if i believe the kid won in reality, cos i thought Signature were a big favourite. But who am i to argue since we can all talk but we cant even get close to touching the shows like this.

  • uncle joe mccarthy

    i wish julia had done a little research on the show before entering…she wouldve known that the producers frequently pick the music

    and who cares….julia is one of the most beautiful women i have ever seen…dont tell me that offers for modeling have not been coming in

  • Dina

    Julia has so far received major criticism from the bellydancing and Middle Eastern music/dance community for her choice in music and style.

    Anger was cooled down quite a bit when one of the seasoned professional dancers (US origin) posted your blog thread.

    Thank you for elaborating on this!

    Naturally, everyone knows how reality shows work (or well – maybe we ASSUME everyone knows). Still, no one can know Julia brought traditional music and got rejected. Her choreography got rejected etc.

    So this IS useful information to save the girl’s “bellydance reputation” amongst informed crowds!

    From the beginning, I thought she moved well. She was not the embarassment to bellydance some professionals proclaimed her to be. Her costume was gorgeous, her moves were nice, it was a modern take IMO. Now knowing she was so unhappy with it I have even more sympathy for the girl.

    Julia did well, and she has made her name now in the UK for mainstream audiences.

    Go and make something of it girl! Show them what bellydance/Middle Eastern dance really is!

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