However, we need also to recognise the recklessness of Ravi B’s call out to the patrons present that night. It was, plain and simple, an incitement to riot, and it is extremely fortunate for all concerned, particularly those patrons who did not respond to the protest call, that the incidents of protest did not escalate.
The incident brings us to focus on two aspects of our culture and even our sports. The first is the rise of the “sore loser” in the pack, and the second is the extent to which we have made our culture into a “competition”, rather than allowing it to develop into an expression of ourselves, our creativity and our skills. Indeed, the very fact that the prize money for the competitions has been increased, now standing at $2 million for most winners is, we consider, a reason why losers may become sore, and protest.
“Protests” over the results of the competitions involving our culture are nothing new. We have had calypsonians, steelbands and mas bands protest results in the past, some even going to the courts to stop the finals, or to change the results announced. But in such instances, there is no immediate danger to patrons and supporters. In the case of Ravi B and the Chutney Soca Monarch, there was a clear call to the patrons to “pelt” things onto the stage, and this could easily have escalated into a riot with serious injuries and even loss of life.
There was another element to the Soca Chutney Monarch “judging” which we find unusual, and indeed which would have reflected possibly the popularity of the artiste rather than the quality of the song being sung. This was the decision, apparently by the sponsors, but obviously approved by the organisers, that the winner would be decided by the number of text messages of support that each artiste (really we should say “competitor”) received. It is therefore entirely possible that the “result” was decided well before the first song was sung, with support teams sending out messages to all and sundry to “text in for …”. In this, there would hardly be any consideration of the lyrics, the music or the presentation by the artistes.
And while we do not condone any form of spoil sport behaviour, we accept that an artiste may have genuinely given a superior performance, and knew it, but lost the prize to someone who may have had a larger “following”, could feel aggrieved at the result. But Ravi B would have known of the rules in advance, and would have accepted the decision had he won.
We worry that the amount of the prize money, less than the “crown”, or the importance of our culture, is becoming the raison d’etre for better known performers to participate in Carnival. Does the size of the prize improve the music, or the mas’? Should not all the stakeholders of our culture reconsider the format of our fantastic celebrations, and change from winner take all competition to the shared appreciation of a spectacle for which all performers can be properly compensated for their talent?
This would certainly eliminate the Sore Loser Syndrome.