Flashy. It’s a term that can be used in many ways. It can mean being all dressed up and ready to enjoy a night on the town. It can refer to a car that has been pimped out. In this case, however, it refers to a performance that has far too many lights flashing in our faces. So, if I were to say to you that Belgium’s 2017 performance was flashy – no offence intended – there may be some agreement. Then again, maybe not.
The Eurovision Safe petition focuses on flashiness in ESC performances and how removing these high-level visual stimuli can make it safer for people with photosensitive epilepsy to view. Portugal’s “no-stimuli” performance proved that there was no need for strobes and whatnot for a performance to have an effect, but is this a true representation of all acts? After all, Salvador was singing a jazz-style melody, and it’s difficult to imagine Lordi without a few strobes.
Wrap your mind around this. Almost every Eurovision performance pre-1985 did not use strobes or flashing lights in their performances, and the ESC was as popular. This did not mean that the performance was dull in any way. Hell, Bucks Fizz were ripping people’s skirts off in 1981 with ‘Making Your Mind Up’, and they won!
How does it work?
The average strobe operates at 8-15 flashes per second, so imagine banging your finger on the table 8-15 times per second. This is a strobe. Studies have shown that people with photosensitive epilepsy can be at risk when viewing lights flashing over 3 flashes per second and in some cases, 1 flash per second.
I hear you say that the EBU does provide warnings before any performances with flashiness. So, is a person facing triggers really Eurovision’s fault?
Yes, warnings are provided; however, there have been cases where people are unaware they are photosensitive and experience their first seizures when watching strobes on television performances. An infamous episode of Pokemon in the 1990s caused over 600 viewers to have seizures because of the strobe effects, many of the individuals not being aware of their photosensitivity.
What about the lights and moving images? Surely, they can’t be problems?
The truth of the matter is that they can. An article in the Daily Express noted an X Factor fan suffering a seizure after watching a live performance of Cheryl Fernandez-Versini. No strobe effects were involved, but the amount of flashing lights and images appeared at a rate so fast making them epileptogenic triggers.
Fortunately, these cases – particularly the Pokemon case – resulted in an international guideline being drafted for television programmes. However, there is always the chance that a flashing light, image or strobe could set off a seizure for a person with photosensitivity, especially in a live performance without control over the staging. People last year jokingly tweeted that the Georgia Eurovision 2016 performance had so many strobe effects it caused epilepsy. Jokes, but not funny for people who have photosensitive epilepsy.
So, does a performance need flashiness to be effective? The people at Eurovision Safe don't think so, and neither do any of their petition supporters. By signing the petition to remove strobes and flashing lights from Eurovision, you can help make the show safer to watch for everyone. Have you made your mind up?