On May 16, European television viewers should have been settling down to watch the 65th Eurovision Song Contest. Some closed-minded and only watching what they believe to be a freak show. Some with families as they’ve done every year for as long as they remember. Some watching for the first time. Some at parties with like-minded souls, getting drunk.
None of that is happening.
The worldwide spread of a virulent and deadly virus has put all of our lives on hold, and yet as I sit here social distancing more than most (because I am a Type 1 diabetic), I have more time to check out social media and, frankly, I wish I hadn’t.
Despite the fact that more and more people are dying by the day, it seems that certain parts of the fan base of this preposterous contest (and in modern day terms the idea really is silly) believe that broadcasters and the EBU made the wrong choice by cancelling the 2020 Contest. I got very very annoyed with people the other night on social media, so much so that it forced me to write this open letter.
There was no alternative
The EBU had no alternative other than to cancel the contest. We all know that no matter how much we try to hide it or blame them. COVID-19 is out of their control. Governments have put in place restrictive and draconian measures to protect lives. Faced with that, the EBU did the only thing they could … they called the whole thing off.
They didn’t take this decision lightly. They would have talked with each broadcaster to find a solution, but at every stage it seems there was not one solution that would have ended up with something resembling a contest.
How about showing the previews? Nope, that would look silly. How about getting people in studios? Nope, because of social distancing. How about postponing the contest? Nope, that would be need to be an open-ended postponement, because no one knows how long this bloody nasty virus will last. It could end up being too late in the cycle for the winning broadcaster of 2020 to host in 2021 and that would be palpably unfair both monetarily and practically.
But but …
We all know these reasons are sensible and valid, but still fans dig in the knife, insisting cancellation was the wrong solution. They moan about everything the EBU has said and done. And why? Because they are bereft. Bereft at losing this little insignificant piece of international broadcasting that they hold so dear that they hold onto the vain hope that it could have happened.
It is, as they say, OK to not be OK, especially about losing something that has 200 million pairs of eyes pointed at it every year. It’s OK to be frustrated, angry and all of those other emotions. We’re all down in the mouth about losing this year’s contest, but that is all we are losing. This year’s contest. Eurovision the programme and the news exchange isn’t closing down. The EBU Live Events department hasn’t been disbanded.
The EBU is busy supporting its member broadcasters in this unprecedented emergency, and the last thing they need is a vociferous mob sniping away. They have far more important things to worry about!
People say that the artistes should be recognised in some way – despite the fact that the EBU have announced they plan to do something. They shout louder and louder. Their noise consists of online posts about how everything’s unfair, and the songs should be entered in 2021. Until etcetera drowns out the reality. To enter the songs again would ruin the very fabric of the contest. If the organisers say it’s OK to put non original work into the contest this one time (and yes, I’m aware it’s a unique situation), it opens doors and – as we have seen with Australia – once open you can’t close them. It’s totally correct that the broadcasters are deciding whether to offer the job to their 2020 artists with new songs, but they don’t have to (c/f Estonia, Norway and possibly Sweden). If a broadcaster chooses not to do this, it’s their choice, not yours. Broadcasters need our support more than ever.
These artists need your support, because they have lost an opportunity to perform and global exposure. They haven’t lost the songs – or possibly the money from record sales but do, please, go and buy their records and show them you care.
Fan media needs your support too. Sites ranging from this unimportant little speck of the internet, right up to the megalithic sites with tentacles in every pie need your clicks at this time. A massive chunk of their yearly readership is now sitting on its hands. They don’t need you to visit to read previews of songs, they don’t need you to check rehearsal blogs, they don’t need you to read about Irish parties where the OnEurope editor-in-chief got insanely drunk (ahem!), but they do need to tick over. We will come up with content, but just like the broadcasters we need to be supported.
Keep visiting, keep watching, keep commenting on anything and everything, but bear in mind that the contest you wanted won’t be coming back.
So, look forward to, probably, May 11th, 13 and 15th 2021 when a brand new 65th Eurovision Song Contest will take place. You never know, you might like it more than the one that never was.