Saturday, June 12, 2004

RACE HOBBLES IDOL AGAIN: After a bad-tempered run of American Idol, with accusations of racially-motivated voting throwing the integrity of the competition into doubt (okay, "integrity" might be a bit of an overstatement in this context), another race row has erupted around the format - this time in the Czech Republic. According to BBC Monitoring, Martina Balogova, a Romany who got through to the later stages of the singing competition, was facing almost cliff-face odds and a great deal of sniping, which she took with almost Franciscan grace:

On the programme's web site chat room, viewers can talk to the contestants but the Romany candidates often find themselves fielding questions their ethnic background.
Q: "What is it like to be a Gypsy?" Balogova: "What is it like to be a Czech?"
Q: "You will not win because you are a Gypsy, what do you say to that?" Balogova: "I won't mind at all, people must be able to lose, life is not just about winning."

The Pravo newspaper was in no doubt that public vote didn't show the Republic at its best:

"Out of the EU's post communist newcomers, the Czech Republic - along with Slovenia - seems to be causing least trouble. Still - did anyone in this country actually believe that the Superstar contest would be won by a girl who - without a shadow of a doubt - most deserved to win but who is a Romany?
"Let us hope that she will get the chance to cultivate her talent in the future and not just in a contest where not quality but subconscious feelings of sympathy and antipathy were clearly the decisive factor.
"This case illustrates one of our weaknesses and there is no point in trying to cover it up."

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