The last resorts of TV harmony

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A visit to Allsång par Skansen made me think, how much both Germans and Swedes cling to the ideal of a family show, which does not exist anymore.

The man with the white hair is probably around 70 years old, but still he puts his hands in the air and grooves along with the song of rapper Petter, next to him a boy, maybe 16 years old, with a baseball cap, nodding his head to the rhythm. A TV camera looms above them transferring this picture of unity and harmony of young and old into millions of Swedish living rooms.

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This very moment at the Ållsang festival (all about it you may read here) made me realize how much the Swedish sing-along folkfest, where Swedes celebrate their national musicians, resembles the German television show “Wetten, dass…?”. Although the format of “Wetten, dass…?” is different – it is about people betting that they can perform a certain task – , its place in the TV culture, seems to be about the same.

It is the show that is supposed to bring young and old together, creating a last resort of harmony where no differences exist. A show, fallen out of time, clinging to remnants of TV past.

Allsång began as a small music festival in 1935, but in the 80s it started to transform in this big television show event, which drags one to two million viewers in front of the TV. It reached its climax on the 26th of June 2007, when 2,2 million people watched the performances of The Ark , Pernilla Wahlgren , Benjamin Wahlgren Ingrosso , Maia Hirasawa , Electric Banana Band and Maria Molle.

“Wetten, dass…?” started out in 1981, so around the time when Alsång started conquering Swedish living rooms. In the 80s, up to 20 million people watched the German show, the unbroken record was reached on the 9th of February 1985 with 23,42 million viewers.

Since these big successes both the viewer numbers of “Allsång” and “Wetten, dass…” declined. “Wetten, dass…” recently hit an all-time low of 6,74 million viewers, which is still good in the TV market, but far away from the good old times.

The biggest impact for both shows was the changing of the hosts. In 2011, former Allsång host Anders Lundin made way for Måns Zelmerlöw. In 2012, TV host Thomas Gottschalk quit “Wetten, dass…?”, and Markus Lanz succeeded him. Just look at these pictures:

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Lanz and Zelmerlöw

Gottschalk (top right) and Lundin (top left), both middle-aged men with a certain taste of humor, are followed by two youngsters, who look nice, have a nice smile and ask nice questions – but nothing more. They lack rough edges, they do not want to provoke anyone. Zelmerlöw (bottom right) and Lanz (bottom left) are perfect for shows that want to appeal to everyone, because in today’s society with a huge variety of media and subcultures, where everyone finds its own space, the smallest common denominator is just this: niceness.

But too much of it is dangerous to entertainment.

When Zelmerlöw interviewed the rapper Petter, the conversation went like this: Zelmerlöw: “How will you spend your vacation?” Petter: “No idea.” Zelmerlöw: “Okay, if you were on vacation right now, what would you do? Petter: “No idea.”

These were not their actual words, my personal interpreter was just very reluctant to translate it. Her reason: “It was just so boring.”

 

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