Saturday, 12 October 2013

This sort of tabloid rhetoric really annoys me and let me tell you why. Firstly read the headline: Why is the X Factor making idols of thugs, drug abusers and a porn star? Scandal of wannabe pop stars' tainted posts. It goes on to say: X Factor contestant Kazeem Ajobe cautioned for common assault and Cannabis possession. He also received community service after being involved in a mass brawl. Another contestant Lorna Simpson, 26 was once married to a Yardie cocaine dealer and Tamera Foster was cautioned for assault of a 16-year-old girl She has also boasted in the past about her taste for illegal drugs. So why do I think this article is so destructive? Surely programs like the X Factor give these kids the opportunity to get themselves out of the streets and out of the lifestyles they were stuck in and better themselves??? In America many ex street gang members have been encouraged to join dance groups, choirs and music groups, are these kids to be condemned because of their past??
They’ve always excelled at air-brushing at The X Factor. And this week, as the 12 final acts were ‘unveiled’ via a glossy photo shoot, they were at it again. But, this year, there is undoubtedly more to gloss over than ever before. While the majority of the final dozen appear to have led largely blameless lives, at least three have tainted pasts, involving drug-taking, the glamorisation of gun culture and violence. One is left wondering if the show’s bosses give any thought to the message they are sending to the millions of impressionable youngsters who tune in every week. This year’s final selection of young men and women — supposedly the brightest vocal talents in the country — includes two with criminal records. It is astonishing, especially given that contestants in previous years have been expelled under similar circumstances. Take, for example, Kazeem Ajobe. Ajobe, 23, who lives in Selhurst, Croydon, is a member of the boy band Rough Copy, who are being mentored by Gary Barlow. They, along with the 11 other acts, are through to the live shows, which start tonight. Yet however good the band’s performance might prove to be, the name Rough is certainly apt. Ajobe was cautioned for common assault after an incident outside a train station in 2006 — he said someone had threatened his girlfriend and he retaliated. The following year, he served 250 hours of community service for affray after being involved in a mass brawl. As recently as 2010 he was cautioned for possession of cannabis. His record came to light last year when the band first entered the show and were selected for the ‘judges’ houses’ section, which required them to travel abroad Kazeem, with his criminal record, was barred from entering the U.S. and had to stay at home. The story put out was that Kazeem, who is of Nigerian origin, had ‘visa issues,’ which was true, but not quite the whole truth. The band withdrew from the contest. This year, they were back, and facing the same obstacle: Kazeem was not allowed to travel, so his bandmates went without him. They made it through to the final and, Ajobe, after making some apologetic noises, was allowed to rejoin them. (It also emerged this week that bandmate Sterling Ramsey, 25, has two cousins serving life for a gangland gun execution. His father is in jail for a string of burglaries.) Meanwhile, fellow X Factor hopeful Lorna Simpson, 26, who is being mentored by Sharon Osbourne, was once married to a Yardie cocaine dealer. Pictures of her posing with a pump action shotgun emerged this week and have caused serious embarrassment to Simpson — who says they were taken when she was a teenager in Jamaica. Simpson, from South London, has also made headlines for her part in a low-budget ‘porn’ film, Hood Loyalty — made in May this year in a bid to ‘help’ her career. A rattled Sharon Osbourne, who tends to believe that attack is the best form of defence, snarled this week: ‘I didn’t know you had to be a nun to f****** sign up to The X Factor.’ And perhaps most seriously of all there are the legal travails of Tamera Foster, aged just 16. She is the bookies’ favourite to win the contest outright, and is both stunningly beautiful and in possession of a spectacular voice. Louis Walsh believes she is better than Leona Lewis was at this point in the contest in 2006. Gary Barlow said after her first audition that she had ‘potential beyond belief’. However, even by the sometimes elastic standards of a show which hired Cheryl Cole (herself in possession of a criminal record following an assault on a nightclub lavatory attendant in 2003) Tamera looks like trouble with a capital T. She accepted a police caution for assault a year ago, when she was 15, after attacking a teenager at a train station last December. In recent months, she has also boasted about her taste for illegal drugs on her Twitter page Tamera, who lives in Gravesend, Kent, with her mother, posted a picture of what appeared to be an unlit cannabis joint in January this year, tweeting: ‘This would please me right now.’ She also tweeted about the effect of smoking ‘Zoom’, marijuana coated in the class-A drug PCP. In one tweet she wrote: ‘Woiiii I just woke up: O that zoom last night put me to sleeeeeep garddd.’ In another message seeming to hint at drug taking, she said: ‘Time to fly high with my sis @LivvsParkerx.’ Under the picture of the cannabis joint on her Twitter account, she made several references to ‘Mary Jane’ — slang for cannabis. When her apparently blatant drug use became public last month, she was ‘spoken to’ by bosses but they accepted she was young and naive, and had made a ‘big mistake’. Tamera was prevailed upon to give an interview in which she said: ‘I’m upset and ashamed by my actions and realise how stupid I was. I never meant to encourage or endorse the use of drugs. It’s no excuse, but this was several months ago and I’ve done a lot of growing up since then.’ Only a cynic would doubt the sincerity of the apology, but it is also clear she had been made aware of how badly the drug issue could affect her chances of winning. She added: ‘I really want to move on and focus on my passion, music, and doing well in the competition. I don’t want anything to get in the way of me achieving my dream.’ But more was to come: she has since admitted to her part in the assault of 16-year-old Holly Wilks in Gravesend, Kent, on Boxing Day last year. It was by any standards a nasty piece of violent bullying. She told Miss Wilks: ‘Kiss my shoes or I will beat you up.’ Then, after a friend pushed Holly to the ground, Tamera kicked and punched her. Miss Wilks was left with bruising to her legs and back, and after a police investigation Tamera was cautioned for assault.
You might imagine that this revelation would be enough to have ended Tamera’s chances — indeed in previous years contestants were dropped if found to have a criminal past. But she has been allowed to make yet another apology and to continue. She told a newspaper she was high at the time of the attack. ‘If I saw Holly, I would apologise and make it clear I am remorseful. I am really sorry for what happened. I lashed out when I shouldn’t have. It was a really stupid move. ‘I do think the marijuana I took could have contributed to my behaviour. I was in a bad place when that happened.’ She claims she has been ‘doing meditation every morning’ in a bid to get on top of her anger issues. No such luxuries for her victim, Miss Wilks, who has a job as a cleaner. She has been watching in horror as Tamera has been presented as the front-runner to scoop the prize of a £1 million recording contract. This week she was reluctant to speak. But her father, Kevin, a builder, had no such qualms. What he has to say will make uncomfortable reading for those who think the show makes for uplifting television. He claims the apology was orchestrated by the show’s makers, and that the effect which Tamera’s violence had on his daughter was serious indeed. Kevin, 44, who lives in South Croydon and is separated from Holly’s mum, said: ‘It’s a complete joke for Tamera to say she’s sorry. She’s never apologised to Holly — why doesn’t she do that? ‘All she did was tell a newspaper she was sorry, probably because The X Factor told her to. Neither Holly or our family have had any personal apology from Tamera or her family — they’ve never been in contact with us. ‘Holly and her friend were on a train when they got a message from another so-called friend asking them to meet at Gravesend. ‘When they got off the train, Tamera was there with a group of her friends. I think it was a set-up. ‘Holly said Tamera and another girl were jealous of her new handbag and started making comments about it. One of them grabbed the bag and ran off with it. Holly was asking for them to give it back but Tamera stuck her face in her face.’ He adds: ‘Then another girl hit Holly, she fell over a wall and Tamera and this other girl carried on punching her and kicking her while she was down. Holly had bruises on her back and legs and was really shaken up. ‘Eventually the police told us they had arrested Tamera and her friend and given both of them a caution. ‘Holly’s life was ruined because she wouldn’t go to school or leave the house. She was terrified of bumping into the gangs, fearing what they might do to her.’ An X Factor spokesman said: ‘While we do not condone violent behaviour, the matter was dealt with by the police and Tamera has apologised for her past behaviour.’ In previous years, any criminality has been a barrier to progress. In 2011, singer Sian Phillips was ejected from the competition after failing to get a visa for the judges’ houses stage because she had a previous conviction for affray. But this year, that has changed. A spokesman said the show assesses criminal convictions on a ‘case by case’ basis. He added: ‘Kazeem’s misdemeanours are very much part of his past and over the last three years he has turned his life around, since his son was born. He volunteers as a mentor for young people in Croydon.’ A source added: ‘We didn’t make the decision lightly, but sometimes people should be allowed to get a second chance.’ In the coming weeks we will see if the viewers agree.

1 comment:

  1. This is a prime example of underprivileged children from the inner cities who could have so easy ended up on the streets in gangs, drugs etc. DON'T KNOCK KIDS WHO AT LEAST TRY ENCOURAGE THEM!!!