In 1988, Fredric Jameson wrote – half in mourning, half in warning – of a contemporary “world in which stylistic innovation is no longer possible…all that is left is to imitate dead styles, to speak through the masks and with the voices of the styles in the imaginary museum”. If 1980s postmodernism was a hall of mirrors, recycling and reflecting the past, Wembley Arena on the night of The X Factor final is a fractured mosaic, a spinning mirrorball of snatched images thrown up on the big screen. The irony is as thick as the fog thrown up by the dry ice. Dermot O’Leary urges the crowd to vote for the winner, although the guest appearances are from JLS (runners-up, 2008) in a mash-up with One Direction (runners-up, 2010), hosted by Olly Murs (runner-up in 2009). Every loser wins, it seems, and yet the audience is told repeatedly that fame rests on this final performance.
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