Channel 4 takes aim at ‘painfully dull and manufactured’ pop stars with music video featuring singer with a prosthetic limb
Channel 4 is planning to hijack the final of ITV’s The X Factor with a music video featuring a singer with a prosthetic limb. The Lady Gaga-style promo, an edited version of which will air in one of the commercial breaks during Sunday’s final, stars singer and model Viktoria Modesta, a lower leg amputee, wearing a variety of prosthetics including an illuminated “bionic” limb and a knee-high black spike.
Channel 4 said it was a riposte to “painfully dull and manufactured” pop stars – likely to be seen as a reference to the Simon Cowell talent show – and offered an alternative to a world of “homogenised pop”.
Modesta, who was born in Latvia and had a below-the-knee amputation at the age of 20 after difficulties at birth left her with a damaged left leg, said: “For a long time, pop culture closed its doors on me as an amputee and alternative artist. I think people have always found it hard to know what to think or feel about an amputee who wasn’t trying to be an Olympian. In sports, ‘overcoming’ a disability makes you a hero, but in pop there is no place for these feelings.”
Modesta, an unsigned artist who took part in the Paralympic Games closing ceremony in London in 2012, said the music industry was “scared” of people with disabilities. She said she had been approached several times to take part as a contestant on The X Factor, but had turned them down. “I don’t have anything against X Factor,” she said. “There are different kinds of artists out there.”
An edited version of the video for the song, Prototype, will appear during the show likely to be watched by more than 10 million people. It features Modesta sitting on a throne surrounded by cloaked figures with a syringe and a cleaver, a cartoon version of the singer who inspires a young girl to rip a leg off her doll, and soldiers wearing Nazi-style uniforms who appear to be interrogating her for leading some kind of cult.
Ads in The X Factor final are among the most expensive on UK TV, costing around £200,000. The full six-minute video will be available on the Channel 4 website.
Dan Brooke, chief marketing and communications officer at Channel 4, said: “We could be spending this money on a show [on Channel 4] or we could be doing a short form programme for somewhere else where it will reach 10 million-plus viewers. It is just another way of reaching the audience.”
Made by Channel 4’s in-house creative team, it is part of the broadcaster’s Born Risky initiative championing undiscovered talent and alternative voices which included its “Superhumans” campaign around its coverage of the Paralympics two years ago.
John Allison, joint head of 4Creative, said: “We wanted to build on the legacy of the Paralympics work so we asked ourselves, ‘Why are there no disabled pop artists?’ Pop stars these days are painfully dull and manufactured. Viktoria embodies our governmental remit of championing alternative voices and establishing new talent.”