There used to be a time when peoples of Europe shared a lot together learning from each other and progressing worry free towards a hopeful future, eager to get new peoples and countries in what was suitably called “the European Union”. In this time, the Eurovision Song Contest wasn’t yet blamed to have become a “geopolitical contest” and the “economic crisis” words were still associated to the darkest periods of the wars.
This period which subtly ended earlier than we think it has because we couldn’t even notice it, was a period when Europe, real Europe, not politics and money but people like you and me from all over the continent would play and dance together in a TV show that millions of people could watch, enjoy and even laugh at/with ; Jeux Sans Frontières.
Created by French media personalities, Jeux Sans Frontières (Games Without Boarders) was the ridiculous / childish but yet more fun version of the Olympic Games where teams made of people (anyone) from a same city would try to beat from 4 to 8 other team representing 4 to 8 other cities of different European countries playing the craziest and funniest games ever. The show ran weekly almost every summer for 30 years before abruptly stopping for financial reasons in 1999.
Nowadays, apart from the Eurovision Song Contest, as a “big” European show, we’ve had the junior version of the contest for about 10 years. Although quite popular in the beginning, it is interesting to notice how comparable this show actually is to American series in an obvious way. Indeed, in 10 years, the interest in European children try at singing exposure has considerably dropped, something that can be very easily proven in the few following points:
-The best participation figure is 18, when in the “grown ups contest” the worst participation rate was 2004 with 36.
– Croatia won the first edition in 2003 and left 4 years later, Spain won in 2004 and left 3 years later, the latest saying that “the Junior Eurovision promotes stereotypes we do not share”.
-Since 2005, everyone is freely getting 12 points which is unlikely to have had happened if the participation wasn’t dropping.
-These European countries that usually compete in the Eurovision Song Contest never did a single time in the junior version: Iceland, Finland, Estonia, Ireland, Germany, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, San Marino and Turkey. Most editions of this contest didn’t contain as many competitors.
The European Broadcasting Union which is in charge of it really seems to be struggling to get “enough” countries to take in this year’s years edition supposedly taking place in three months in Kyiv and which slogan funnily enough goes “Be creative” almost sounding like an order from a old lady who’s lost its authority. Only 8 countries have signed for this year’s edition so far, some of them even having chosen their “artist” and song already, in the hope to get at least a “bronze medal”, because according to the last “rules” it has been decided 8 years after 12 points to everyone, that there will also be a focus on the 2 runner-ups, as if all the children who had finished in these places before (and especially in the years breaking participation rates) were less deserving…
Now, is this what we’re reduced to nowadays? Is this what we have to be reduced to nowadays?
Instead of making us witness a pressure that most children taking part in this kind of competitions shouldn’t even imagine at their age, Jeux Sans Frontières had the merit to make us laugh, hope and feel proud whenever our national city won the weekly edition of the games.
Moreover, the show that ended 14 years ago because of “financial reasons” used to cost in its final few years more than 5 times less than the Junior Eurovision Song Contest costs nowadays, and apart from offering us the sight of people struggling to make their city proud, it also played “postcards” very nicely presenting the different cities competing, almost helping to make plans for your next holidays. These were respectively introduced by the different presenters of the different countries, so that we could witness how fun “the others” were and how good they were in languages compared to the own national presenters.
This show really was the concrete representation of “We are one” that this year’s Eurovision Song Contest displayed as what really sounded as an hypocritical slogan, considering the fact that quite a few countries had to withdraw for financial reasons.
So, do we have to keep on using impropriate slogans to disguise a far-from-happy-and-united Europe when it isn’t that hard to start making them sound right?