Of Men and Mice

One spring evening in the early 1970s when I was a university student living in England, I happened to see the Eurovision Song Contest (as it was called in those days) for the first time. Actually, it was great fun based on a terrific idea -- something that could happen only in Europe, I guess -- and amounted to an evening at home well-spent with my girlfriend plus a barrel of Natural Dry Cider (After all this was Somerset in England's apple-strewn West country.) The victors were a group called Abba, and the winning song was a catchy number called "Waterloo." (not my favorite Abba song, but ok). The DJs were posted live at every venue in Europe, the competition appeared to be fair, and there was just the right amount of anticipation (I would stop short of calling it 'tension', after all this wasn't the FA Cup final !)  I enjoyed it so much that, for the next few years at least, it retained a spot on my calendar.
   Now I wouldn't go anywhere near a television screen erupting with this farce. Or, to confess the truth, maybe I actually would, but only in the same manner that crowds used to flock to see public executions. There is something grimly entertaining about grisly events, and I suppose the same might be said for witnessing a spectacle so meticulously designed to make a joke of itself, total asses out of everyone involved, and nothing but sour emotions afterwards.
   Of the shrinking number of conclusions I have drawn about life, one of them is this: There is NOTHING human beings cannot -- having made the brightest of beginnings -- totally fuck up in the end.. So many examples come to mind: splitting the atom, the Olympic Games, the internet etc.: the grandeur of the human imagination poisoned by the verminous squalor of human character. In a very small and insignificant sense, "Eurovision" now occupies a place of dishonor somewhere in the basement of this Hall of Shame.
   In the entertainment business, it goes without saying that politics is one of the main culprits in terms of ruining things, especially when the TV ratings promise to be large. The Oscars has for years rewarded films that are Politically Correct and so-so in substance. But this year it really outdid itself, all the more so when they got the winners and the losers ass-backwards. I haven't seen either film and probably won't, but one was "white" and the other was "black", so to speak. At first, the white guys were announced to have won, and they were up on the stage celebrating  - the very portrait of "Hey, we did it!" -- only to be informed that a cock-up of major proportions had occurred, and in fact, the black guys were the winners. So there was a big shuffle on and off the stage and the African-Americans claimed the spotlight. Well and good, no problem there, except for the embarrassment (Red faces).  But can you image the riots that would have happened in LA and around the country if it had been the other way around? I mean, try to picture the black folks up there dancing about in the glow of triumph only to be told to piss off, they weren't the winners after all?  Now that, I assure you would have provoked mayhem beyond the blood-letting of any Act V in Shakespeare. ("Whassat you say, Crackuh? We ain't won no Oscah? Fuck you, MoFo !)
   Politics creates the atmosphere for cheating in the Olympics. Once upon a time, the Olympics consisted of a bunch of naked Greek guys running through the forest or wrestling on the floor. Then the Christians got into the act and the Olympics were banned for a thousand years. Finally, they were restored as a world event. Super idea. Young men and women of all nationalities competing together in the name of international sportsmanship. Yeah, right. Hitler used them to promote the Nazis; the Cold War used them as a contest of ideologies -- even trading boycotts in 1980 and 1984, thus crushing the chances of those unfortunate young athletes who had been training most of their lives for the honor of competing on the world stage -- and you will never convince me that NATO, backed by the Americans, did not deliberately choose the time of the Sochi Olympics as the precise moment to launch a revolution (if it can be called that) in Ukraine. The Russians, meanwhile, were doping the hell out of their athletes in order to win Gold Medals. Now, how fucked up is all that?
  The World Cup. For anyone who likes football, I challenge you to disagree that the round robin at the beginning of the tournament  (where all four teams in each group play each other, and two go through to the next round) provides the most thrilling action and spectacle. That is because no one is afraid of losing at that point. The Big Guys know they can blow a match and still qualify for the next round, and the Little Guys are playing for fun and to make a reputation in the process. So The Nigerias and Costa Ricas get to have their moment in the sun. And it is wonderful entertainment. Then comes the so-called 'knock-out' rounds, and the result is some of the most stultifying boredom to be found in all of the sport. It is because big money and big prestige is involved, and all of a sudden the most pressing concern is NOT TO LOSE.  So the teams walk around at pedestrian speed, draw up their defenses to the point of suffocation, refuse to attack; the entertainment aspect goes out the window. And of course, even the choice of which country is going to host the event is swallowed up in politics. If you think not, just wait until the summer of 2018 approaches and the world points its accusatory eyes on Russia. And vice versa.
   But back to the Eurovision. No need to recapitulate: everybody's knows that Russia's entry this year will a be a girl in a wheelchair. A recent article in The Moscow Times -- by a writer whose interesting subjects are invariably marred by an implacable desire to cast Russia in a bad light -- suggests that Russia is deliberately playing the Sympathy Card. You know, taking the moral highroad to try and regain ground lost during the Ukraine fiasco. According to this wisdom, the wheelchair-bound damsel will strike the same resonant and positive chord for the 'disabled'  ("physically challenged", sorry)  that Conchita did for the sexually versatile, and Ukraine's entry last year did for the politically oppressed. She will play it for a few compassionate tears, and, hell, maybe even cop the trophy !!  I mean Conchita couldn't sing worth a damn either, and look where SHE went !!  Straight to the title !!
   Other voices have suggested that she be denied for having given a concert in Crimea in which she expressed pro-annexation views. One famous "crooner" (as he was described in the Moscow Times article) from the Soviet era, opined that Russia should promote an image of health, and that this image would be tarnished by allowing itself to represented by an unhealthy performer. Have you ever heard such rubbish?  I believe that if you want to test the logic of any idea, then follow it through to the end. I mean, if we have to stop saying "chairman" (even if the chairman is a guy) and replace it with "chairperson" or just "chair", then we should also stop calling Manchester by this sexist name and resort instead to calling it "Personchester". A yeoman should become a "yeoperson", etc. So if Yulia Samoylova should be prevented from performing according to the logic of Iosif Kobzon, then Stephen Hawking should be banned from the next big physics convention, and Stevie Wonder should be barred from the stage.
  Of course, Yulia should be allowed to perform. But she should not be handed anything. Vladimir Pozner got it right when he suggested that one-legged artist Yevgeny Smirnov was basically a 'gimmick'. Nothing against Yevgeny at all, but if he was going to compete as a one-legged man against two-legged men, then he had better be one hell of a one-legged man. The rules cannot change. And the same rules should apply for Yulia as should have applied for Conchita. I mean, if you are going to go to a brothel, be prepared to prove yourself to girls who have seen it all, including those more well-endowed than you. Compete, compete, compete, but don't expect sympathy, because the world doesn't owe it to you. And this is one thing that the Politically Correct never understand. Most of us simply don't give a shit if your old black granddaddy was somebody's slave, or if you are missing a finger or a toe. The question is: can YOU get the result??????
  I am certain that Julia Samoylova would say the same thing. At least I hope she would.

===Eric Richard Le Roy===

I agree with Eric, and think that Julia should be allowed to compete. However, the true right option is the blind audition (when judges do not see the singer), so that nothing would affect their decision. Singing is not about physical appearance both ways, to good or bad. Of course I think that the girl in a wheelchair (someone might even say she is pretty) will affect the unbiased judgement. Basically it is like saying that if you do not take her condition into an account, you are intolerant, and we know many stories when people play this card.

As for her musical career, I would not expect less from the cousin of famous Russian rap singer, Dzigan, who, as suspected, promoted her to the Factor A song contest, by Alla Pugacheva, which gave a push to her future career.
Either way, let judges judge.

Я согласен с Эриком, что Юлии должна соревноваться, и мешать ей в этом – абсолютно безответственно. Тем не менее, я выступаю за «слепое прослушивание», когда судьи не видят исполнителя, чтобы внешний вид не влиял на решение.

На качество исполнения внешний вид не влияет.

Что же до ее музыкальной карьеры, я бы не ожидал меньшего от кузины Джигана, который, предположительно, помог ей попасть на конкурс Фактор А, проводимый Аллой Пугачевой, победа на котором и дала основной толчок ее карьере.

В любом случае – пусть судят судьи.

===Артем Ковалев, Artem Kovalev===

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