Editorials & Opinion

Sorry I’m not sorry

Earlier today I read a piece on the Guardian about the need to apologise for mainstream tastes. Within the article, Tom Shone quotes Carl Wilson’s book about his journey to learn to love Celine Dion, ‘Let’s Talk About Love’

Subversion today is sentimentality’s inverse: it is nearly always a term of approval. To show the subversiveness of a song, TV show or movie is tantamount to validating it, not just in pop criticism but academic scholarship

It has become quite clear to me that this doesn’t escape the ambit of any (artistic) expression anymore and anything that has the misfortune as being labelled as mainstream risks the stigma that seems to be necessarily attached to it these days.
Through the excruciatingly delicious experience of being a Eurovision fan I have found myself more often than not apologising for liking the contest. I have made all sorts of excuses and come up with the most fabulously intricate explanations as to why the show is not only good fun but as valid an artistic expression as any other. Depending on the audience I have discovered my arguments as to how the contest was used as a political tool against communism reinforced, that Europe does not hate the United Kingdom or the wonderful simplicity of some acts emphasized. The point is, 15 years of showing almost religious devotion to the contest have taught me to have an ace under the sleeve for any possible attack that detractors might come up with. In short, I have spent a good amount of time and energy trying to apologise for liking something whose only sin is to be too mainstream.
Now, my musical taste is not only mainstream when it comes to Eurovision. I could come up with an army of artists that I like but that may only be known to but a few readers (other than Spanish speaking) so I won’t do that. The apologetic state of mind transcends to my everyday ipod selection and so I now realise that more often than not, when asked about artists that I like, I start my answers with “well, you are probably going to laugh, but…”.
Why? Who, exactly, determined, that there is x, y or z artist, genre or form of expression that is one not to be laughed at? Who are the enlightened that have decided that if you don’t tick certain boxes in your small talk menu your taste is to be dismissed? The Mexican author Enrique Serna wrote a magnificent book called “Genealogy Of Intellectual Arrogance” in which he explores through history how, amongst others, artists have gone out of their way to distinguish themselves from the masses as a separate caste and explains how sometimes impenetrable language or signs are introduced in the high artistic and literary circles to keep intruders at a prudent distance. However, he counters that “the hermetical rhetoric also tends to hide the emptiness” (of new forms of expression developed to alienate the masses).
Now, I will concede that the atmosphere surrounding the contest for those attending live might just escape what constitutes mainstream. I hardly ever see, walking around London (or anywhere else, for that matter), as many feather boas, coloured wigs and flag-capes as I have seen since attending Eurovision in situ. But the music is a whole other story. Europop, ethnic balads, folk et al are simply part of what people listen to every day. This part of the contest is as mainstream as it could possibly be. That’s what attracts c.190 million viewers. You don’t tune in to a 3-hour show just to make fun of it. Deep down inside, people like it, but it is simply not ok to acknowledge it. They are “closeted fans”, if you will. They (we) have just become too cynical about it and concede that it is easier to dismiss the contest as a whole than to admit that we like something this mainstream. Shone puts it bluntly

The internet – that bubbling cauldron of pet peeves, cultural dislikes and moodswings – has give [sic] shape to our hatreds.

The illuminate have told us what we are supposed to like not to be labelled as dumb. Therefore, everything that falls outside of that field of acceptable entertainment leads us to open our conversations about that with apologies. If it’s not subversive enough, it’s not good enough.
In his article, Shone quoted Wilson yet again saying that “Mainstream taste the only taste for which you still have to say you’re sorry.” Well, I refuse. I love Eurovision. Full stop. Sorry, but I’m not sorry!

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