|The sofa is, in fact, of reasonable comfort.|
It’s May 13th, 2006. Yep. Gnarls Barkley. Whole story. Beatfreakz, with a cover of “Somebody’s Watching Me,” Red Hot Chili Peppers, Shayne Ward, Pet Shop Boys, and Snow Patrol also chart. In news, a bus driver in Dublin snaps and begins driving his bus through the streets in a rampage that kills one and injures thirteen more, including five police officers. Arsenal F.C. play their final game at Highbury, Apple Computer wins a trademark suit against Apple Corps, and Ruth Kelley, Minister for local Government and Opus Dei member, declines to elaborate on whether she considers homosexuality a sin. Sony unveils the PS3, the NSA is reported as operating a massive phone surveillance operation, the President talks about how he wants to close Guantanamo Bay and pursue immigration reform… wait, am I still in historical news? Liverpool win something. (Yep. Still in historical news.) Oh! And Lordi win Eurovision!
This latter event is actually worth discussing. One of the primary themes of this blog has been the peculiarities of the relationship between the mainstream and the marginal in British culture. The Eurovision Song Contest illustrates a peculiar special feature of this, albeit on a scale larger than just the UK. Eurovision is aggressively mainstream. Yet somehow its embrace of the aggressive mainstream ends up being the weirdest thing imaginable. Or, at least, usually. Eurovision is infamously a bunch of terribly trashy and over the top performances bookended by a couple smaller ones in which a terribly earnest singer sings a terribly earnest song. And usually one of those wins. Usually.
But in 2006, somewhat improbably, a Finnish hard rock band that does all of their performances in elaborate monster makeup won with “Hard Rock Hallelujah,” their lead singer wearing a gloriously ill-advised cheap plastic hat with the Finnish flag on it. It was one of the most charmingly offbeat moments of mass popularity ever achieved – something that visibly comes from miles outside of anything that would conventionally be called the mainstream, and yet winning a massive pan-European popular vote competition. The television of acceptance, as Richard put it back in the Big Brother post.
As we’ve noted, Doctor Who has itself become the television of acceptance, with the previously marginal backwater of anorak cult television becoming, very abruptly, the most popular thing on television – so abruptly, in fact, that it hadn’t even finished being anorak cult television by the time it had reinvented itself again. Its somewhat checkered past was almost instantly rehabilitated as the idiosyncratic history of a beloved cultural icon. And so a structure that everybody recognized implicitly was imposed on the series – so much so that it didn’t need to be announced as such. The Cybermen would return in Series Two, the Master in Series Three. Everyone knew in their bones this was how it played out, and the return of the Cybermen was announced in Doctor Who Magazine #357, the same issue that ran the previews for the last three episodes of Series One to no surprise whatsoever.…