Sunday, May 22, 2005

Eurovision Slum Contest

Love it or hate it; you can't ignore it. But I'm awfully tempted.

The tabloids, bookmakers and my friends tricked me into believing Norway would win, but the European audience didn't seem to catch the humour of Wig Wam's lovable, so-called glam show. Or maybe they didn't like it at all. The Swiss guitar girls were my second favourite, and Moldova's performance was on par with Wig Wam's. That Malta and Romania managed top three is a testament to the laughably low taste of the voters, be they jury or mob. But Romania were admittedly amusing, and deserve credit for a truly ridiculous stage show.

The only thing appealing and fascinating about Eurovision is the regional competition. There aren't many stages on which all the nations of Europe can compete on the same terms. (Although the five commercially most important countries have a secure spot in the final, but that's necessary for the show to go on. The same logic applies to the United Nations Security Council.) Eurovision stirs up innocent patriotism, neighbourly love and the most vulgar artists of the continent. The concept is so base it appeals to everyone. Even those who despise Eurovision watch it, if for no other (stated) reason than to mock the plainness of the show.

Even though Romania, Moldova or Norway didn't go all the way this year, I hope for more freaks next year. Most of the artists are average, but it's the hopeless and outraging ones that make Eurovison a memorable experience.

Friday, May 20, 2005

A most sane idol

"Det e så sinnssjugt." This year's winner of Norwegian Idol is quite right.

Idol is over, and I'm already looking forward to the next season. My favourite won, so I guess I can live with a few Idol-free months. The sad thing about this concept is that it gets increasingly tedious and boring as the competition moves forward. I want to see people make fools of themselves, not watch two mediocre singers make perfectly okay interpretations of plain pop songs.

"Det e så sinnssjugt. Det e bare sjugt" ("This is crazy"). This seems to be the message Jorun had decided to use if she prevailed in the final. The excellent thing about Idol is that the tabloids feel they have to make a major story and quote the winners (and losers); it hardly matters if they say something quoteworthy. The Public Relations credo "Repeat your message frequently enough, and you will be heard" is well illustrated here. Let's make a cheap shot at a hypothetical interview.

Dagbladet: How do you feel about winning Idol?
Jorun: Det e så sinnssjugt.
Db: Did you deserve to win?
J: Æ vet ikkje. Det e så sjugt.
Db: What are you going to do now?
J: Sinnssjugt.

The front page headline next day? Hard to say.

The television audience love this entertainment concept: Common people rise to become stars, and WE get to decide who it's gonna be. Both the talentless and the talented are on display. We are amused indeed.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Post-documentary remarks

The Norwegian Documentary Film Festival is over, and I didn't manage to catch a single one of the 50 screenings. For my birthday this year I'll wish for the ability to say "no" when someone asks me to do something. Yesterday's award ceremony was the highlight of the festival, but since I was covering the event for the regional newspaper Sunnmørsposten, I couldn't let myself completely loose. Today's hangover was fortunately quite moderate, which made the writing only slightly tiresome.

For most of the participating students in Volda, the festival was probably the most amusing four-five days this semester. And not just because beer cost only three Euros. All the visitors from abroad and the rest of the country made the event an exception from the pattern that usually dominates our little village. Meeting new people is increasingly a rare privilege the longer you stay here.

Finding time to read for exams has been impossible this week. Prospects are only marginally better the next seven days, but hopefully there will be fewer nights out. I'll probably not work too much this summer, and look forward to a partially deserved holiday.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Remember, remember

Screw the Norwegian national holiday of May 17, which is essentially about eating ice cream, howling hooray and holding hypocritical speeches about the value of cultural diversity. Tomorrow we celebrate Liberation Day in Europe. History may be bunk, as some pundit once said, but the Second World War (WWII) is still good material. Even in the tabloids, which means that one of the papers' elderly writers is allowed to write his (her? maybe someday) reflection on Hitler and the Third Reich.

We can't remember it all. Uncle Sam has, wisely or not, spent most of his European goodwill after WWII. Great Britain is hardly as great as it used to be. The French are still French, so in some ways we're back to where we were before the world wars. Except for globalisation, economic interdepence and all that. Anti-Americanism in Europe may be the largest threat to European re-ascendancy to the geopolitical stage. The first NATO Secretary General Lord Ismay's aphorism "NATO was created to keep the Russians out, the Germans down and the Americans in" is temporarily outdated, but who knows? In politically slightly uncorrect words, the red menace is replaced by the yellow. The West will again find back to its common ground.

Stream of consciousness is an inadequate tool for intellectual reasoning. This seems to be the only lesson from today's column.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Back on track, sort of

The student week in Volda is finally over, and so we return to the ordinary habit of catching at least one lecture per week. Today's topic was rhetorics, an underrated branch of the language science tree. At least in Norway. We have an almost ridiculous fascination for the myriad of accents in this country, whereas the significant disciplines such as linguistics, semantics and rhetorics are neglected.

But the audience seemed to enjoy the lecture, probably because we for once had en engaging speaker. Not every lecturer in our Media Science course is capable of combining theory and examples, which shouldn't be such a daunting task. But hey, we don't have to sit through every lecture.