Would you elect a president who just moved to your country yesterday? You might think twice, or even thrice before doing it. But you would be ok with a performer from a different country representing yours in Eurovision Song Contest. Or would you? Well, let’s dig into the dirty Eurovision laundry because things are about to get nasty.
“Eurovision is just a TV show, presidents are a serious deal,” you’d say, right? Well, let’s set the record straight from the very beginning. We’re not really suggesting that performers from other countries should not represent the participant country, we’re merely suggesting that maybe we should think about it for a while, alone, preferably in a dark cold room. This might change your opinion on which countries have better music, and which ones get 0 points from you.
I think you’d have some arguments to challenge me:
Argument #1: Eurovision is a Song Contest, Not a Country Contest.
Sure, everyone knows that, right? Everyone. Now, think about it, e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e? In a parallel universe, I argue this, and you agree with me, because you know you’ve been judging the song based on the country it came from. But let’s not talk about you. Let’s talk about others.
Apart from the winning song, no other entry gets votes based on the quality of the music. Aren’t many people and countries out there voting for a neighbor all the time? Or many countries NOT voting for Russia because it’s the brand new “Magneto” of our world? This is the reality, and it happens every year. So, no matter how often EBU representatives tell us it’s all about the songs, in a way it IS a country contest. And if that’s true, shouldn’t the countries compete with resources they’ve actually worked on? Everyone can outsource, it doesn’t mean you show all the goodies your country has to offer in terms of music. Those goodies were created by others.
Argument 2: Forget the countries. There are great singers out there, and they all deserve a chance to perform at ESC.
Sure, but don’t you think countries should be held accountable for not creating equal opportunities inside their countries? If the country’s most popular song is a hard, metal genre, we should see that on Eurovision stage. Right now, the only countries that send music that is actually popular in their countries, not giving a damn about the rest of the Eurovision community, are Spain, the UK, France, and Germany. It’s understandable, they don’t have to fight for their place under the sun, but it’s not like they keep winning the contest every year.
For others, Eurovision has become a tool for country marketing, advertising the best of their tourism industry, and actually getting away with the lack of support to their music industries and independent artists, while taking advantage of the resources abroad.
Argument 3: There is no way of controlling it, so it’s useless.
Agreed, but if EBU can control what certain lyrics words and phrases mean, I’m sure they can figure something out for this as well.
There are 2 ways for Eurovision to move forward with. Right now, it is a mish-mash of political messaging, power games and some music in between. A large part of the ESC audience is not in favor of the political subcontexts (and these are usually the loyal viewers who have been watching it for more than a dozen years). The other camp of the viewership loves the political intrigue, feeding on it, spending hours on hate comments on YouTube or discussing whether an entry should get or NOT get a vote because their president is this and that. So, one way out is to embrace its role in the political propaganda, no matter how funny that idea seems to you now. The second way out is to eliminate every kind of political messaging and give priority to singers, songs and music – the way it should have been all along. Music does represent the issues our societies care about, but we’d be silly to think everything is black & white and there is no encouragement from external interested parties.
Of course, there is also the third way, balacing both extremes into one. For this, the EBU should stop fueling the political propaganda, messaging and favoritism in the contest and the branding of the contest. This means giving equal opportunities to Russia, as well as other countries, equal visibility on Eurovision.tv whether the performer is gay, trans, disabled, religious, a woman in a burka (hasn’t happened yet, has it?) or a blond beautiful woman showing off her legs. And if the EBU is not driving the car of their own reputation, it should ask questions to the parties, websites, individuals doing it for them.
There is one thing EBU and the ESC community should understand, rules apply to everyone, and if ONE performer, ONE country, ONE song is permitted to break a rule, then you can’t really expect obedience from anyone.
Argument 4: Not all countries have equal resources to invest in music. It should not affect their chance to win.
This one argument I actually agree with, a lot. If every participant could only send a performer from their own country, maybe we’d have the same winners all the time. Plus, globalization has made it impossible for people to develop their talents only within one culture or country. Yes, this I agree too, but even here, I strongly believe the context of outsourcing should always be taken into account when voting.
Argument 5: Take it easy, it’s just a TV show.
And you are right again. Despite all the nasty things I said above, take things easy and enjoy the show. Find a favorite, cheer for them, vote for them, don’t forget to send some neighborly love, and go to sleep with the thought of waking up and discussing the results with everyone you meet the next day. We’ll join.
Got any more arguments?