Thursday, 18 February 2016

Collective Punishment

In a move to bring back the excitement to Eurovision, in a similar way that exploding nipple-clamps brings back excitement to a doomed marriage, the powers that be have decided that the 2016 dross-a-thon will have a public vote. Oh yes, I can hear the joy on your breath already - because, like I do - this brings to the forefront of the world's largest abuse of the word "talent" show, two of the things I love the most in the world: voting systems and throwing heartfelt and whimsical abuse at the Eurovision Song Contest.

First, the technical side of things. Previously the vote was done by each country getting a jury of "music experts" / coked-up shaved monkeys to vote on the best act, the people of each nation that actually think Eurovision is worth voting on, to hit their phones to record their vote, and then it gets averaged out to give out the countries votes in preferred order/Russia as number one if within invasion range. So far, so inevitably not England winning and, because of the number of countries involved and a max of 12 points to hand out, it meant that half of the voting section of the show was wasted as a quarter of the way through someone had mathematically inevitably won and there are only so many times over twenty minutes you can show the same person trying to emote shock, surprise, and joy over something only an act of a god with a decent taste in music could stop.

The new system "creates TV magic" (their honest to god words, all complaints to info@eurovision.tv) by giving each countries' public an equal number of votes to their jury. After all, the official voting is drummed out with the monotony of a Thursday afternoon school assembly, and they will then, in reverse order, read out how many total votes each country got from the plebiscite. Technically this means that no-one knows who will have won until the very last moment, in reality it means that you get to sit through even more tedium on an already interminably slow show. Oh yeah, and it'll give the public an enhanced sense of empowerment, so it'll drive a lot text messages and give them more dollar. There is also, thanks to the app, the increased chance of someone trying to rig the vote in a more direct fashion, however Eurovision have assured everyone that that isn't possible, mostly by not admitting it is.

Anyway: on a technical level its main advantage is that "politics" (i.e. Russia) can't be too involved with the final decision and the Jury can't disagree as much with the public as before, so there will be less outcry if "the wrong act" wins. However, you still have the same basic issue as before of, if a countries Jury gives an act a 2 and the public give it a 10 it still averages out as a six, it's just now out of a possible 24 rather than 12. You also continue to have the problem of the public voting politically, rather than on an "is it actually a good act" level (Russia is basically never getting another point from the Western public) that the jury may actually be skilled to vote on. You also continue to have the issue of Cultural Closeness, wherein countries with similar musical traditions and cultures will tend to vote for each other because they 'just like the tune' because it sounds like what they hear on the radio all the time, rather than being able to make an objective evaluation of it. Oh yeah, and boobs are really going to come into play here, as there are going to be a lot of votes up for grabs if you can convince the audience that there is a chance of seeing more butter being churned, even though

So will any of that change things for the UK? No, obviously it won't because our selection criteria continues to be "are they a bloody disgrace compared to everything else we have on offer?". It's just that now we get to firmly see how much the voting public of Europe hates it, in unequivocal terms. But mostly it's just a bit of pointless deckchair moving. As an attempt at trying to be a bit more representative of the public tastes it fails, as populations aren't taken into account, as an attempt to inject some excitement it fails, as there is still the tedium of the jury section before most of what's gone before gets made pointless by the lighting round, and as an attempt to remove politics it fails, as the assumption that the audience isn't political has been proven well and truly false over the last couple of years.

About the only thing it really does is prove that the Eurovision are unwilling to deal with the basic overblown nature of the show, and that they think a bit of mid 2ks interactivity will shake things up in any meaningful manner. Because as far as Eurovision are concerned, the show will always go on, and on, and on, and on....
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