Politics and Eurovision

Posted Monday February 23, 2009 by John Gunders in |

The first political scandal of Eurovision 2009 has erupted over the Georgian entry, We Don’t Wanna Put In, by Stephane & 3G. The song is a predictable blend of Euro-pop and 70s disco, with the standard choreography to distract the viewer from how ordinary the song is—classic Eurovision, in other words. But considering the hostilities between Georgia and Eurovision host country Russia which started in July 2008 in Ossetia, the song’s title can only be read as a play on the name of the Russian Prime Minister. Watch it here.

The announcement of the Georgian entry—chosen through a “Pop Idol” like television competition—brought many complaints on the Eurovision forums about the political nature of the selection:

For obvious reasons, this entry has to withdraw. It is unacceptable to take advantge of the ESC to give political messages. Go to the ESC for fun, not to create conflicts.

Eurovision without politics please!

This song is awful, I protest that this festival of music as a bridge for friendship between nations was built is abused for political interests. The singers told “openly” during an interview that this song has a political message and if somebody Is not silly or stupid understands it certainly. Dont show this Clip in Moscow!!! 0000 Points

I find it quite amusing that these people think that Eurovision is not already political. Apart from the bloc voting that is endemic in the competition, the ideological assumptions are clear if you look for them. The glitz and glamour of the entire event is in the service of late-capitalist consumerism; nationalism is rampant; in spite of the high-camp values, the show is for the most part exceedingly hetero-normative; and the automatic entry to the finals enjoyed by the “big four” (Great Britain, France, Germany, and Spain) says that money can buy you entry to anything.

And how could we forget the intriguing and provocative reprise of openly gay Marija Serifovic’s Molitva at the 2008 competition in Belgrade? This was part of the formal entertainment, so implicitly authorised by the organisation, and in it one of the dancers initially appeared coyly in a traditional bride’s gown, which was then torn off by Marija (rule 3: gratuitous removal of clothing: take a drink) revealing a man’s tuxedo underneath, and then again, revealing a half tux, half ball gown number. Marija’s win in 2007 was seen as a significant boost to gay rights in a deeply conservative country, and the androgyny of the dancers’ costumes must have been confronting to many Serbians. And hardly apolitical…

The ideology of the normative position is always harder to spot than the opposing position, but to claim that Eurovision is a completely innocent piece of entertainment outside the realm of politics is ludicrous.

Anyway, I expect that Stephane & 3G will do quite well in Moscow: the song is the sort of high-spirited Euro-drivel that does quite well in the competition, and the sentiment will appeal to the many anti-Russian countries who vote.

Your Comments

Commenting is closed for this article.