It’s time for you all to roll your eyes again as I present a follow-up to my previous post about the Eurovision Song Contest. I have no doubt that in recent weeks my Twitter followers have been scrambling for the mute button as I livetweeted various national selections around Europe.
Time to reflect a little on what’s been learned so far.
In the last post I said,
The Eurovision is our annual bout of silliness, cultural misunderstandings and sometimes (though more often than it’s given credit for) some actually very good music. I’ll willingly defend the ending of that last sentence.
So far, most of the selections seem to have been doing their utmost to prove me wrong there. It’s been every bit as asinine and bland as the show’s detractors suggest. Take Cyprus, for example, who picked a dull crooner bearing a strange resemblance to CBeebies’ resident medic Dr Ranj Singh.
Something needed to happen to prevent an inexorable slide into monotony. I have tickets for the semifinals in Vienna! I’ve spent money on this thing!
And then, a surprise was unleashed yesterday, and it broke the Internet more swiftly than Kim Kardashian’s haunches. The European Broadcasting Union hired an enormous barge that towed Australia round to somewhere off the coast of Galway, and suddenly our Aussie brethren were now a bona fide Eurovision country. Geography Schmeography.
Personally I’m more than willing to defend the decision against the AEREs [Australia-Excluding Radical Eurovisionistas]. Over time the concept of the show as a purely European affair has become steadily more diluted. For one thing, Israel isn’t in Europe. Neither is Morocco, which participated in 1980, nor Lebanon, disqualified in 2005 for refusing to broadcast the Israeli entry. When one thinks about that, it isn’t such a leap to invite Australia, especially when this year’s theme is “building bridges.”
Today, there was another announcement, with more than a whiff of politics. Armenia will enter a five-piece made up of a member of the Armenian Diaspora from each of the five continents. The act is called Genealogy, and the song – and this is where the politics comes in – is called Don’t Deny.
This is essentially a raised middle-finger in the direction of Turkey, which isn’t competing this year (allegedly because of the gay-friendly nature of the show, though they will be returning in 2016). Denial of the Armenian Holocaust, in which up to 1.5 million Armenians were murdered by the Ottoman Empire, is pretty much Turkish government policy.
Politics and the Eurovision have a complex relationship. Political lyrics are officially banned, which led to the disqualification of Georgia’s 2009 entry, We Don’t Wanna Put In (as in, Put In…Putin…Geddit?)
But those rules haven’t always been followed consistently. See, for example Israel in 2007, with its not-very-thinly-veiled references to the Iranian nuclear programme.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see whether Armenia fall foul of the rules or not.
This Saturday, I’ll be livetweeting the Iceland selections, so get your mute buttons ready.