The Voice – Saturday evening sound and fury

The first airing of “The Voice” 25/02/12 (TF1®)

I suppose many of you have been watching “The Voice” on a regular basis. I must shamefully admit that I have not. I managed once to sit down to watch a few minutes but couldn’t get myself involved. My busy timetable, my general dislike for the dictatorship of the small screen, or perhaps a preference for sleep before I am willing to spend 2 + hours watching people sing songs that have been sung before, I may never know why, but “The Voice” never captured my attention.

However, unawares to me, and I wonder how this is possible since we live together, my daughter Talia, all of nine years old, apparently managed to get thoroughly addicted. I found out about this addiction last Saturday night when out at a charity show for the Restos du Coeur at Polytechnique, I discovered with alarm during the intermission that I had received five phone calls from home in the space of one and a half hours.

We had left the children home alone. Her big brother, Raphaël, almost 14, is perfectly capable of making sure the house isn’t burnt down in our absence. We’ve left them before with no problem. Last Saturday was different however. As I was to learn. When I saw the missed calls and desperate messages I reacted as any mother who finds herself about 45 minutes from home; I seriously fretted. Sure that someone had cut off a finger or broken an arm, I rushed to call home, wondering all the while if I could get the neighbors to take the injured child to the emergency room if necessary and we would meet them there. Yes, these are the things a mother thinks of when her children call five times in one and a half hours, or at least these are the things this mother thinks of. And I suspect I am not alone.

So I rush to an area with phone reception and call home. Talia answers the phone immediately. She is in full-blown distress, hiccuping sobs are keeping her from communicating properly. My worry mounts to panic. I imagine her brother lying somewhere on the floor hemorrhaging to death. I wonder if she knows the number of the pompiers. I try to calm her so she can at least explain what dreadful thing has happened. And to my utter, and I mean utter, dumbfounded surprise, in a blur of incomprehensible gibberish that is breaking through the gasping sobs, I hear the words “The Voice”.

Now perhaps those of you who watch “The Voice” will not understand that it took me a moment to comprehend what she was talking about. But forgive me my ignorance. I did not know the grand finale of  “The Voice” was taking place this week-end. I did not even know there was such a thing as a grand finale. Sure, I had heard friends talk of the contestants, familiar names floating around in light conversation. It was precisely at those times that I tended to think of other things, like my shopping list.

But Saturday evening I discovered the error of my ways. “The Voice” is important. No doubt about it. My daughter showed me just how important. As she started to calm, I finally realized that her brother had committed the unimaginable, the unforgivable. The channel had been changed mid “Voice” and he was not going to change it back. I’ll spare you the details of the subsequent negotiations, or the deal that had to be brokered in extremis over the phone, but Talia got to watch the rest of “The Voice”. And my husband and I got to finish our evening at Polytechnique with no more interruptions. All was well.

The whole thing did however get me thinking a bit more about this phenomenon which is “The Voice”. And since I am no expert on the subject, in any way shape or form, I will leave you with a link to an article written by Celsa’s Olivier Aïm. I encourage you to read it, and if you feel inspired, to share your “Voice” experience here or there or wherever. Because after all, it is the importance of the shared experience that I was missing in my interpretation of the frivolousness of  “The Voice”. Any show that can get so many people glued to the TV at the same time and dreaming about and for their preferred contestant must be slightly more important than my shopping list, wouldn’t you say?