Financial disaster; terrorists; war: could we briefly change the channel here, to something a bit less world-shaking, a bit more ludicrous? Even if that means taking up for discussion a subject distinctly “out-of-season,” like Christmas in July . . .
. . . or the Eurovision Song Contest in September. That extravaganza happens every year like clockwork the third week of May, of course, and this weblog (if actively being written at the time) has always had something to say for the occasion – usually of a mocking nature, it must be admitted. My last treatment of the contest, however, in May of 2004, a post entitled “Eurovision Gerrymandering,” went beyond mere ridicule to point out the obvious voting-patterns evincing inter-country cooperation and log-rolling which was resulting in completely bogus, ridiculous, and incompetent acts coming out at or near the top simply because of their nationality.
But all is not lost! Finally there has been a change to the Eurovision voting rules that should help address this problem, pointed out last week in the Financial Times Deutschland by Stephan Radomsky (»Moscow Calling«).
Right at the beginning of his article, after the lede, Radomsky pretty much puts his finger on what the problem is here (other than the overwhelming air of schmaltz that prevails, of course):
It is even painful, what we have to experience every year at the Eurovision Song Contest. Several young, hopeful talents . . . warble like nightingales and win: nothing.
Instead singers clean up that no one has ever heard of. Or did you know a certain Marija Serifovic [the 2007 winner from Serbia; sorry, but her performance was a veritable paean to lesbianism] or Dima Bilan [winner in 2008; I didn't watch, but I understand his act made liberal use of an ice-skater]? A scandal.
Radomsky goes on to recite what has been behind all this, namely the bloc-voting that I already identified in my post from 2004. And the solution that the European Broadcast Union, which runs the Contest, has come up is to stop relying on phoned-in voting from spectators for 100% of the voting that determines the winner, but only for 50% to 70%. (Why is it that range of numbers, rather than a single, definitive percentage?) Juries will decide the rest of the voting.
In actuality, if you take the trouble to read it carefully, Radomsky’s article ends up throwing up an unexpected ironic twist. It becomes clear that he does not approve of this change in the voting procedures, he considers it anti-democratic. Apparently, if thousands of Eurovision spectators want to coordinate their votes in certain easy-to-observe ways, which make it clear that anything other than the sheer qualities of the song and the singers are guiding their decisions, then that is apparently only their God-given right. And that they are being deprived of it – partially – in favor of what he calls in his lede a “guided mediocracy” he finds all-too-appropriate as the Song Contest looks ahead to its May, 2009, staging in Moscow, capital of the “guided democracy” that is present-day Russia.
Myself, maybe I’m not so ready to be such a rabid partisan for pure “democracy,” anytime, anywhere. I’d just like to know that next year’s entries at the Eurovision Song Contest – should I again find myself present at the sort of late-May party that structures itself around the event – will at least be watchable and listenable.