European way of life

The Eurovision song contest: myth and reality

Every year in May, Europe has a spike of strange fever that leaves the Non-Europeans absolutely skeptical: the Eurovision, a ritual gathering of the kitsch, of the musical improbabilities, of the easy glitter, created in the middle of the fifties when it was necessary to gather Europe around peace and cooperation and dispel the spectre of the war. What about sixty years later?

Logo of the sixtieth contest of Eurovision, organized by Austria

Logo of the sixtieth contest of Eurovision, organized by Austria

 

  A political masquerade?

This year, the Eurovision celebrates a record of longevity for a broadcasted event: sixty years. Each year, everybody says and repeats that Eurovision has nothing to do with politics. It’s just music.

And yet, this year, the Austrian anchorwomen Mirjam Weichselbraun et Alice Tumler felt obliged to say it again during the voting procedure when the Russian singer, Polina Gagarina, has shed a tear while she was being booed: indeed, people were exasperated because all the former satellites of the USSR gave – as usual – their precious “twelve points” to the Mother Russia. 

Austria organized the Eurovision contest in 2015 and tried to provide for the serenity of the Russian singer, after the Tolmachevy sisters were offended in 2014, by being booed several time in the evening. An anti-booing technology using active noise control was installed in the Wiener Stadthalle to protect the Russian candidate when she was on stage. In case of boos, a few sound reducers should avoid that the noise of the public was broadcast to 200 millions of viewers. Besides, Polina Gagarina had not only one, but two earpieces to isolate herself from the public.

Of course, Eurovision is politics. More and more. Firstly, Europe celebrates its diversity two hours long thanks to a great unique show. Then, the next two hours, the Old Europe uses the former geopolitical networks to make sure that the “Big Five” bites the dust – the five biggest financial contributors to Eurovision, compulsory selected for the great final: France, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Italy. Since the middle of the eighties, the newest ones try to outwit the oldest ones, and it works. 

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  Blocs against blocs

2015: return of the Cold War. Participants don’t vote for a song anymore – with some exceptions, but for their immediate neighbors, politically, culturally and geographically close. Three big blocs can be noted:

  • The ex-Eastern Bloc, which always vote for Russia and Russia repays its debt to them: Baltic States, Belarus (the last dictatorship in Europe, by the way), Ukraine (which didn’t participate this year because of… War), GeorgiaAzerbaijan, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova (which equally votes for Romania and Russia – surprise).
  • The Scandinavian blocBaltic States (three little smart states which try to remain on good terms with Russia (because it is frightening) and Scandinavia (because Scandinavian states are cool) in the same time, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland. Sometimes the Netherlands are even allowed to plan in the Scandinavian courtyard.
  • The Balkan bloc: after having teared each other to pieces during twenty years, they generously hug each other at the Eurovision – Serbia, Montenegro, Albania (which equally votes for Italy and Greece), Bosnia and Herzegovina (which didn’t participate this year because of economic reasons), Croatia and Slovenia.
Geopolitical voting system at the Eurovision, personal work of Newsroom (CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Geopolitical voting system at the Eurovision, personal work of Newsroom (CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Other efficient subdivisions can be noted:

  • The greek and turkish mishmash (all in the name: add Armenia and Cyprus: between partitions and genocides, they stay friends.
  • The Baltic States: Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck ; they always vote for each other, in every sense.
  • The English and Irish charity: despite one or two bombs on the Prince Charles’ way, it’s time for a fresh start.

Since 1997, that is to say almost twenty years, no country excluded of these big blocs has won the Eurovision song contest, with some little exceptions (artist who reaches a consensus, symbols…): Austria, for example, geopolitical anomaly but winner 2014 thanks to Conchita Wurst

Austria will be the very last in 2015, a first in the history for the country which organizes, ex-aequo with the poor German candidate, Ann-Sophie, who shouldn’t have been there.

Little illustrated guide of the voting logics at the Eurovision for the uninitiated people, drawing by i.imgur.com

Little illustrated guide of the voting logics at the Eurovision for the uninitiated people, drawing by i.imgur.com

 

  The rout of the Western Europe

Who are then the great losers? The Western Europe – a bloc who still worked five or six years ago, is now disintegrating. Spain, Portugal, France, Italie, Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands don’t vote anymore for each other. France, official moronic, still continues to vote for its neighbors which absolutely don’t care.

This year, France gave its precious twelve points to Belgium, like The Netherlands. Of course, because in Belgium, there’re the Walloons, who speak French, and the Flemings, who speak Dutch and there’re also the Germans because Germany gave eight points to Belgium: that’s enough for Eupen-Malmedy. On the other hand, Germany gave its twelve points to… Azerbaijan. Try working that out!

If there’re students in geopolitics among you, just watch the Eurovision. That’s enough.

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  And what about France?

Suspens apart: could France still win the Eurovision? As things stand at present… No. However, we tried everything: something off the wall with Sébastien Tellier en 2008 or super off the wall with the Twin Twin (very last in 2014), something exotic in 1992 or more recently in 2010 with Jesse Matador, the Corsican singing exercices with Amaury Vassily in 2011, the haute couture bimbo with Anggun in 2012… But since Patricia Kaas, eighth in 2009 and idol of the Great Russia (there is no such thing as chance...), French are relegated to the last places of the ranking. And there is no reason for that to change unless someone introduces two simple rules: no votes for a neighbor and obligation to sing in ones own language. I know Swedes and Estonians who will less show off after that!

France gets only four points in 2015 given by San Marino and Armenia… Just consider our diplomatic situation on the European exchequer… Even if diasporas remain a sizeable voting factor; indeed, apart from Charles Aznavour, the Armenian community in very important in France, especially in Marseille and keep good relations with its country of origin (which votes).

We should learn something from Sweden which organized an unbeatable selection system: a national and international jury choose the candidate who will represent Sweden to Eurovision. So, if a song worked in front of a international jury, it will work at the Eurovision for sure! Over the last five years, Sweden was four times on the podium. Coincidence?

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  The Swede Måns Zelmerlöw, handsome but slightly homophobic guy win the Eurovision 2015

The Swede Måns Zelmerlöw, photo by Ailura (CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

The Swede Måns Zelmerlöw, photo by Ailura (CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

The Western rout does the Scandinavian bloc good this year again; the Swedish war machine has demonstrated its efficacy and it doesn’t mess around with Eurovision even less than with the Nobel price. This year, Sweden had chosen Måns Zelmerlöw, great face of 28 years old who tried to bring the leatherette pants back into fashion.  

Twitter seizes this phenomenon very quickly: the Swedish candidate has a perfect physique but the charisma of an oyster. And still more quickly, Twitter makes reappear some old stories about the beautiful viking: last year, during a Swedish TV show, Måns Zelmerlöw made inappropriate homophobic remarks, by saying especially that « men born with a natural attraction to women » and that homosexuality is « abnormal ». You can see the video right here – in Swedish for the uninitiated, but you can notice that the other guests seem to feel uncomfortable. Since this mistake, Måns Zelmerlöw apologized in front of the entire Sweden and the country was willing to forget that story. 

The proof is that no one has talked about that event immediately after the contest and nothing appears on the first page of the Google search results for « Måns Zelmerlöw » ; I didn’t see anything in the media after his victory. Maybe Sweden should make its famous selection system even more selective…

That’s Eurovision: in 2014, Conchita Wurst, beautiful bearded drag-queen and famous LGBT militant (« degenerate » according to Vladimir Putin… Certainly a mark of interest) won the Eurovision and declared : « We are unstoppable! »… Until the next year apparently and the victory of this Swedish fop who has even hugged Conchita, speechless.

The Eurovision is simply like Europe. An Europe which shows its diversity and where the homosexuals fight for the recognition of their rights, but also an Europe tormented by the spectre of the extremes: in Scandinavia, for example, the extreme right-wing gains ground. The Eurovision is not (only) a kitsch show which reminds the fairs of the 19th specialized in teratology, it reflects also the worries of its time. 

How to win the Eurovision in five steps (in French)

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