One topic on the agenda this week – strap on the sequins, it’s Eurovision!
This week saw the 57th Eurovision Song Contest take place in Azerbaijan after they won it last year. This year’s live final was watched by an estimated 120 million people (who estimates these things?).
Most of the people around Europe watch it with pleasure, but here in Britain the show has almost moved into the ‘guilty pleasure’ category. If you admit to watching it, to enjoying it, you are labelled as weird, probably homosexual.
I’ve been called both those things many times, so it doesn’t bother me – I love it!
Like many others in Britain, I was brought up watching the show every year. Back then, ( the first I remember was probably 1973!) there was not the multi channel, multi media offering of today. Plus, the show was taken much more seriously here, so it was a big deal.
Fast forward to today, and the UK is seemingly caught between whether to take it seriously or not. The UK doesn’t have to qualify, because we are one the countries that are big funders of the event.
That’s what causes our identity complex. The voting system means it is very hard for us to win now, because the ‘rest’ of Europe feels disinclined to vote for us, for political reasons – siding with the US, anti European stances, etc, etc.
The alternative choices for us would be to pull out, or go to sarcastic extremes and enter joke acts. Neither of those are really options, because of us being a foundation funder.
So, the show has settled here into a mix if that guilty pleasure market, and high camp fans.
It’s easy to mock, but it has a massive number of genuine fans here, and across Europe it is simply huge, so to dismiss it is to not understand it.
Originally created to develop better cultural understanding of other countries, you might think that today it shows the divides between other countries. I disagree – the real fans love getting together to enjoy a common connection through the music and laughter of the event, and that’s no bad thing, right?
Also, look at the individual singers – for many of them being in Eurovision is the pinnacle of their career, and if you were to set that as a goal for yourself, you’ve set yourself a hard one!
There has been controversy this year, centred around the human rights record in Azerbaijan. This is something I think has developed from the world of sport, where any major event comes under the spotlight when held in a country with dubious practices.
Azerbaijan’s neighbours Armenia pulled out of this year’s show due to safety concerns, and it’s been said that the government has manipulated the show to present itself in a positive light.
I watched a documentary about this last week, which told me new things about Azerbaijan. Here’s the thing though, that documentary was only made *because* the show was there. I didn’t know the first thing about the country before, so it could be argued that the show going there has shone a light into the corners of the country that the government *didn’t* want seen.
Eurovision old hands Sweden won the event this year, so the whole shebang moves there next time. One thing’s for sure – forget the mocking, I’ll be watching!
With all the displays of goal achievement, the ideals of camaraderie and mutual understanding, and the multitude of sequins on offer, the event is a fixture in my diary!
Ok, that’s it for now.
‘Til Next Time,
Health & happiness,
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