The Eurovision Pong Contest

pong

Given the result of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, and that I happen to have made a couple of postings on The Conversation web site, responding to two separate articles on this annual ‘music’ competition, I thought that a blog post combining these two posts might be an idea, in order to adequately display what has become my contempt for Eurovision.

This, I feel I should point out, is a far cry from decades ago when my family and I would gather in front of the TV and watch and join in, often cheering on the UK entry, and even occasionally liking some of the other European ones, as we did in 1974, when Abba sang Waterloo. I recall that we hoped that it would come in second, after the UK entry. As it happens, I couldn’t remember what the UK entry was for that year until I checked. It was Olivia Newton-John – Long Live Love. I’m not impressed with myself for forgetting that (or at least I felt that way until I reminded myself of it on YouTube – and then I felt better about forgetting it), even if it was 42 years ago – but I remember Clodagh Rogers and Jack in the Box, The New Seekers and Beg, Steal or Borrow, but I digress…

Today however, I think Eurovision stinks. That is part of my meaning with the play on words in my blog title. However, the above image, as well as my posts on The Conversation, should clarify for you the rest of my meaning.

The first comment was posted before the competition finale, the other was posted just after.

In response to: Would you vote for a Eurovision Brexit?

I would happily vote for a Brexit from this European institution – because it is an annual piece of over-hyped rubbish that ceased to be relevant years ago.

Yes there have been occasional gems, but far fewer than there ought to have been from the supposed best that each member nation could offer.

Sometime in the 1980s, popular and mainstream music turned its back on Eurovision, along with the audiences. The music & the artists used to be reflective of music that people were listening to, but in the 1980s that ceased to be. It became all about the countries and the politics.

You rightly refer to the clear bias that was evident between nations voting more for close neighbours and allies, but are wrong to then link it to any perception that the UK lost out as a consequence. That, to me at least, was never the problem, or rather the consequence of the problem, as the political voting often cancelled itself out and rarely made a difference. But still it was there for all to see, which meant that the contest lost credibility. It wasn’t neutral and wasn’t about the quality of the music; and when nationalism is seen as relevant to the kind of music being put up to be voted upon, are we likely to see the best on offer?

The answer is no. We don’t.

If financial or economic considerations were involved here, it would be a microcosm of the EU debate. We don’t like what the Eurovision has become, but may well conclude that we need to remain part of it, and try to change it as a member, from within – however there are no financial concerns here, so if it doesn’t reform – and pronto – I say let’s get shot and have the TV/media use the airspace for something better, or at least something relevant.

In response to: Eurovision’s futile effort to steer clear of politics

(Quoting from the main article)

This year sees the first Ukrainian entry chosen since Russia annexed Crimea. The song, “1944”, commemorates Stalin’s deportation of Crimean Tatars to Central Asia during World War II. Beyond individual songs, the whole Eurovision project involves representing the meanings and boundaries of “Europe”. These are political ideas.

(From the Eurovision rules)

No lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political or similar nature shall be permitted during the Eurovision Song Contest. No swearing or other unacceptable language shall be allowed in the lyrics or in the performances of the songs. No messages promoting any organisation, institution, political cause or other, company, brand, products or services shall be allowed in the Shows and within any official Eurovision Song Contest premises (i.e. at the venue, the Eurovision village, the Press Centre, etc.). A breach of this rule may result in disqualification.

Despite [the] current political context and climate of Russian-Ukraine relations, this song is allowed in.

Ukraine wins. Russia, already unhappy at the song being there at all, is further aggrieved.

Regardless of your view or stance on the situation between Ukraine & Russia, Eurovision has been wilfully used for international point scoring between countries for reasons far exceeding the point of the competition – which is supposed to be about music.

Eurovision has now completed its journey from being a song contest between nations to a political propaganda outlet for the nations taking part, who are clearly more interested in voting for songs making political statements, than for the best song on offer.

A couple of things I would add. First of all, I did not watch the competition. I am long past being interested in it, as the above should make clear.

Now I have heard & seen the winning song, due to prior coverage of its controversial entry, but I haven’t bothered with any of the other songs. So, if someone should tell me that the Ukraine song was the worthy winner on musical grounds, I couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to dispute that. I would however respond by saying that I would find that to be an extraordinary coincidence; that this song, that had achieved publicity and notoriety prior to the competition finale, that was expressing an anti-soviet sentiment (and when we still tend to read ‘Soviet’ as ‘Russian’), following on so recently from the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, just happened to be the best song in the competition this year.

I think it was at least naive to allow this song to be entered, but given Eurovision’s history, I am far more inclined to believe that the song was included knowing that it would elicit a political and nationalistic reaction from the participating countries.

I am therefore saying that I believe that Eurovision allowed itself to be used as a political football, and it scored a spectacular goal when the Ukraine song won.

Now I am not siding with either Russia or Ukraine over the conflict (or over Crimea) in making my points. I know aspects of the conflict, but I am far from expert and I am not inclined to ‘side’ with anyone over it, partly because I don’t feel sufficiently well informed about it to do such, but with what I do know of it, I don’t think it’s a clear-cut matter and I may not side with anyone over it, even if I did feel sufficiently informed.

Eurovision stinks and I don’t want any part of it any more. I would be more than happy if either the UK withdrew from it, or merely neglected to broadcast it on national prime-time television.

Eurovision isn’t a song contest and hasn’t been for a long time. Mostly it has become a barometer or temperature gauge for how participating countries feel about each other, and as an outlet for national or nationalistic pride, and perhaps even a diversion from domestic events, but this year it has moved over to fully becoming a propaganda tool for those who have sufficient influence in its running to enable it to make thinly veiled political statements on international affairs.

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