Sunday, 27 May 2012
So, meinen Europaischen friends, the ghastly Spectre of a Pantomime Dinosaur that is Eurovision has staggered, squawking and gasping, to its pitiable, undignified end for another year, like a battery-farmed Phoenix. Now, some might think that Eurovision is neither a worthy nor a relevant subject for criticism when set against the backdrop of far more Important and Urgent matters that press on us now from every side. But let us not forget, comrades, that in these days of swingeing, cruel cuts to arts budgets across the Continent, even from the most liberal and enlightened of regimes, that an awful lot of money is sunk annually in this hideous cardboard-and-paste travesty, something we all pretend not to take notice of, yet for some reason feel obliged to carry on with, as one continues to invite an embarrassing Auntie to family events, even though she is guaranteed to drink the punch-bowl, offend a significant proportion of the other guests, and have to be carried out insensible at the height of the festivities. So, having, as it were, shelled out for its dinner, and drinks, and probably a taxi home, couldn't we do a bit more with it? Yes, I know, I know that looking for a platform for the serious, living musical arts in the Eurovision Song Contest is a little like comparing Monica Bellucci with Les Dawson in a frock. It's just a different kind of animal. And yet - if we must, if we HAVE to have this raddled, desperate old Dame mincing horridly across our screens every year, couldn't we at least beg her to reach down and grab hold of even a small fold of her strapped-up Balls, and give us some (whisper it!) Entertainment? If we were looking for a role-model, wouldn't Quentin Crisp be more the thing than David Walliams' Emily Howard? I mean to say - this year, Britain had an absolute Gift in the palm of its very hand, and fluffed it worse than ever pudding-faced, overgrown ten-year-old made a hash of the part of the Virgin Mary in the school Nativity Play. For Chrissakes, we had ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK. And what did we do with him, with a veritable God of queasy, cheesy, verging-on-full-blown-camp anachronism? It could have been outstanding. What an opportunity for something hugely, outrageously, louchely Post-Modern. Joe Orton remade by Aki Kaurismaki. Missed. I have just heard a guest on some sort of Radio 4 Arts round-up saying, ( ironically, no doubt, for we can only speak of Mainstream Pop Culture Ironically), "At least we avoided the dreaded 'Nul Points'." What is THAT to take pride, or comfort, in? A revindication of our mediocrity as an Artistic nation, even in the context of a defining celebration of the Mediocre. Not even notable enough to be the Worst. To quote my daughter at the age of nine, placed sixth in a regional chess tournament that had five prize places - Not even a ****** Medal. Next year, I appeal to the French - they are supposed to be good at this sort of thing - or possibly the Belgians (I'm British, I couldn't possibly admit to being able to tell them apart) - to wheel out Johnny Hallyday, in all his Phantom of The Opera grotesquery, have him mime some "de trop" Rhum Baba of a faux Rock Opera number, and give Eurovision the opportunity to embrace once more its true and rightful heritage as the crowning jewel on the public brow of the Theatre of the Absurd. And leave mercifully behind it the memory of the washed-out stain from the stage-fright sick of a Californian Baby Beauty Queen that it has, of late, become.