Mike Atkinson defends The Eurovision Song Contest from sneering British snobs, and explains why Americans should like it, too (in fact, he reports, the U.S. is about to begin a similar contest among the 50 American states):
Full disclosure: I’m a longtime Eurovision fan, with a deep affection for the show that stretches back to childhood. As such, I have frequently had to defend it against the cultivated sneers of friends and colleagues. For while the contest is taken deeply seriously by the rest of Europe, whose popular music it can reasonably be said to represent, it is mostly regarded in the United Kingdom, where I live, as a camp joke. Unashamedly populist in nature, Eurovision’s relentlessly upbeat, major-key feel inevitably jars with sophisticated British notions of creativity and cool. After all, didn’t we single-handedly invent modern pop music? How dare these foreign upstarts try to sell a second-hand reading of our own culture back to us!
After describing the many odd, frenetic charms of Eurovision, Atkinson notes how refreshingly wholesome and non-commercial it is:
For my part, what I like best about Eurovision is its charmingly unspun quality. It has never become overcommercialized; sponsorship is present but discreet. It has never been co-opted by the major record labels, being largely organized by a federation of national television companies. And touchingly, there is still a sense of adherence to almost quaint notions of international harmony and cooperation; competition remains largely good-natured and untainted by overt greed.
Ye Gods, he’s convinced me! If I happen to be indoors and sober on the 20th of May, I’ll watch it and live-blog it. Promise (subject to those two important conditions, of course).