I was in the gym earlier this evening. On a television screen on the wall in the corner, X-Factor 2010 was on. As we all know, the contest is the brainchild of Simon Cowell – and maybe the Irish bloke as well but I can’t remember his name so much is the whole thing Cowell. The camera hangs on his Mona Lisa face, on the infinitely curled ironies in his left eye, which unravel suddenly and decide X’s fate. I am drawn in, smiling. First empathy with X and his ecstatic friends and family, then a sort of priestly admiration for the magus. Even with the sound off.
The drawing-in is nothing to do with the music. The whole thing is simulation, of course, but this does not get in the way of empathy. Low level strings of humanity are being pulled. Suspension of disbelief. It is the judgement. The hot-or-not of someone’s act. We are hooked on judgement. Hence the queues at the Louvre.