Eurovision 2012: What’s in a title?

It’s that time again.  European readers do not need any additional information, but Americans, especially my local neighbors, still need to know why they should become obsessed (or at least interested) with the Eurovision Song Contest. 

Exhibit A.  Last year’s entry from Moldova: three foot conical hats, unicycles, monocles, and intercontinental ballistic gnomes.  It is impossible to ask for more.  Few of the other acts were as consciously absurd, but unconscious absurdity is almost as good, and between absurdity and breathtaking emptiness (like last year’s winner), Eurovision is a damn fine show. 

Exhibit B. The list of artists for 2012.  It’s very hard not to want to watch a musical show with artists such as

  • Rambo Amadeus,
  • Sinplus,
  • Compact Disco,
  • Trackshittaz,
  • Jedward,
  • Litesound, and …
  • Engelbert Humperdinck (yes, the Englebert Humperdinck, of “After the Lovin” fame).

Exhibit C.  The song titles (and hopefully the songs themselves) occupy the full spectrum from banal to ridiculous.  Imagine the insights into human love and life that must be contained in songs such as

  • You and Me,
  • Echo (You and I),
  • Black and White,
  • The Sound Of Our Heart

But there are also some on the inexplicable side like

  • Euro-Neuro,
  • Woki mit deim Popo

Others opt for the full sentence approach.  Together these tell a story (though not a good one).

  • Would You.  Be My Guest.  I Believe. Love Will Set You Free.  Isn’t Love Something?  These Steps I Know. This Is The Night.  We Are The Heroes.

Of course it’s hard to take this too seriously since another song title insists

  • I’m a Joker.

Another set of songs appear to identify things you will not get during the 3 hours spent watching this competition (or might actually end up losing):

  • Beautiful Song, Euphoria, Aphrodisiac, Heaven, Party For Everybody, My Life, La La Love, Love Unlimited, Time.

And some of the entries read like pleas to viewers to reject and keep watching despite their natural inclinations:

  • Stay, Stay with me, Don’t Close Your Eyes, Listen, Love Me Back, Love Is Blind [and, with any luck, deaf].

And there are other songs that appear to describe how viewers actually feel:

  • Standing Still, Out Of Love, When I Blunder, Oh Oh-Uh-Oh Oh (The Social Network Song). Never Forget.

Perhaps the best advice about watching the show, given in retrospect, is that of Denmark’s Soluna Samay’s:

  • Should’ve Known Better.

Fittingly, the best description of the show overall—at least the ten years of it that I’ve now seen—is that of defending champion, Azerbajan, whose entry Sabina Babayeva has will be singing a song called:

  • When The Music Dies.

And that’s why anybody who lives in the Detroit metropolitan area should show up at my house on Saturday the 26th to watch:

Found Art! Enter to win in the “Gerryvision 2011” Drawing Contest

Those who would criticize American art as sterile and commercialized have obviously not familiarized themselves with the art of Congressional district boundary drawing which, like certain kinds of locust, flourishes once every decade (sometimes more often in Texas), feeding on census data and political desire.  And this year local Michigan artists have done their state proud with some remarkable work.  The beauty of these creations is often lost in a jumble of shapes and colors when they appear together on the same page:

And so I would like to take this opportunity to present them as separate designs, each beautiful in its own right.  Ladies and gentlemen, the 9th, 11th, 13th and 14th Congressional districts of the state of Michigan:

Draw your own and win!

These shapes are not only remarkable for their raw beauty and complexity but also for the way in which they are open to interpretation.  Indeed perhaps the most exciting part of this American artistic tradition is the degree to which it  invites viewer participation.  And just as commentators compared one of Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry’s 1812 districts as a “salamander” and drew a famous cartoon to illustrate, so all Americans are entitled to offer words and pictures to describe their new districts, so I ask all Pozorblog readers to do the same.   Take District 14 for example.  Look at it from all sides:

Is it a frog?  a giraffe riding a motorcycle? Elvis?  You decide and then send it here so that it can be posted for the world to see.  And if you do it soon, there’s something in it for you (in a sense):

Gerryvision 2011

The process is simple:

  1. Download one or all of the maps below in pdf or jpg format
  2. Look at it long and hard, rotate it, squint at it or do anything else that will help you to divine its true shape.
  3. Mark up the graphic to show what you have in mind.  Feel free to print it out and draw on it
  4. Take a picture or scan it in and send it here: by midnight on Friday, October 21.  Submit as many as you want!

Entries will be judged by an expert jury of experts in electoral rules (i.e. the students of my PS4710 course on “Democracy”) who.  The winner will receive $10 donated in her/his name to the charity of her/his choice.

Here are the maps.  Go ahead and join the American artistic-political tradition!

Click the pictures below for graphic files or click here for a .pdf of all four
The 9th The 11th The 13th The 14th

As they used to say (and maybe still do), you can’t win if you don’t enter.