Sunday, March 12, 2006

today : Slobodan Milosevic....'nul points'

Well, good riddance to Slobodan Milosevic. It seems that European dictators can be spotted by their hair, be it facial or otherwise. In future we chould beware of any leaders who are especially vain about their hair, moustaches and beards. Milosevic had a proud and luxuriant mane of grey, as did Ceaucescu. Stalin had a carefully cultivated moustache and Hitler - well why people didn't spot the hair/moustache double whammy earlier is beyond my ken.

Of course, Milosevic's long lasting popular legacy is a linguistic one. The phrase 'ethnic cleansing' will haunt us for a long time. But we really should turn his negatives into positives. Let's not forget that, like Iraq, Europe as we know it is an unstable political project, packed with imposed boundaries, tribal loyalties, territorial disputes and unresolved historical spats. I am with another grey haired leader - Ted Heath - whose support of the greater European project was closely informed by what he saw during WW2, and his desire to counter such a thing happening again. Milosevic reminded of us how important it is to create a wide and stable Europe that gives people few excuses to take out their frustrations on each other.

To this end we must allow more and more countries into the Eurovision Song Contest. Okay, so their music is laughable and their costumes increasingly bizarre, but the fact that Eurovision is moving eastward is symbolic of a broad and inclusive Europe, as well as some of the more volatile and dangerous countries' desire to become exotic tourist destinations and to join in with the West. Let's face it, each show is a three hour video tourist brochure for the nation. I, for one, am seriously considering Riga as a credible holiday destination (apparently, its the new Prague).
For a start, Eurovision promotes democracy. You can't win, and therefore host next year, if your Parliament Square is ringed by military police and your farmers are using their rusty tractors to knock down the police headquarters. And then there are the votes. You also cannot win if you get 'nul points', a lesson that all dictators could learn.

Secondly, Eurovision promotes the building of large auditoriums. It's like a mini-Olypmpics for the winning country (famously, Ireland try to lose after a run of wins because it simply cost too much and they didn't need to build any more and already had a state of the art television industry. By losing and not hosting the Irish also inadvertantly spared the world the chance of any more Hothouse Flowers or Michael Flatleys being foisted upon it.) Large Auditoriums mean that U2 will play concerts, which in turn will lead to the promotion of World Peace.

Thirdly, Eurovision promotes Europop, which can only be a good thing. The world would be a lesser place if it wasn't for former Soviet people dancing around in flourescent mini-skirts singing nursery rhymes to a house beat, complete with balalaikas.

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