Friday, March 02, 2007

The politics of Eurovision

I can't believe I'm writing this, I'm sorry - I really am. Anyway, Eurovision and Israel, here we go...

So after putting up Teapack via YouTube yesterday I noticed someone had come to this blog after doing a blogsearch for them. I followed the link to see who else had blogged about the song and near the top was Little Green Footballs. Wanting to test my theory that generally one of Little Green Footballs' more moronic commenters will suggest nuking Mecca within the first ten comments on any post, (I'm slightly disappointed that they didn't this time - the level of bile being spouted on LGF can't be moderating can it? They are laughing about Palestinians shooting themselves by about comment 12, although I have to admit there is some dark comedy value in anyone shooting themselves) I followed the link. Anyway, according to LGF, one comment made by some Eurovision bod that the song is too political and won't be allowed is yet more damning evidence of European antisemitism, the collapse of Western civilization, the arrival of the rapacious barbarian hordes at the gates of Vienna- you know, the normal kind of stuff.

There are two things to point out about this, firstly - according to the Jerusalem Post - it's not true: the Israeli TV channel have checked the rules and with the competition organizers and they have nothing against the song. And secondly, even if the song was seen as being too political there is nothing anti-Israeli about that as it has happened in the past to other countries. The last case being that of the Ukrainian entry, Razom Nas Bahato, Nas Ne Podolaty, in 2005 by the rap outfit GreenJolly. GreenJolly were propelled to fame by the Orange Revolution of 2004 as the above mentioned song became the anthem of the protesters, including the snappy refrain:
No to lies!
Yushchenko - Yes! Yushchenko - Yes!
This is our President.
Yes! Yes!
Or in the original Ukrainian if you prefer:
Ні брехні!
Ющенко - Так, Ющенко - Так!
Це наш президент!
Так! Так!
When they tried to enter this song as the Ukrainian Eurovision entry for that year's competition in Kiev, it was deemed too political. GreenJolly, obviously not wanting to miss out on their moment of Euro-fame, re-worded the song to be a general celebration of revolution and not telling fibs, rather than specific ode to President Yushchenko. The 2005 competition was held in Kiev after Ruslana of Ukraine won in 2004. I tell you this only as a rather lame reason to add a picture of the lovely Ruslana in her cave-girl outfit (see right) to this post. Sadly, GreenJolly came a rather poor 20th, gaining only 30 points, suggesting that we Europeans prefer cute cave-girls to vaguely political Slavic hip-hop. It's a language thing I'm sure. The competition that year was won by the also unfeasibly attractive Elena Paparizou of Greece (but you'll have to google her yourself chaps if you want eye-candy).

The Guardian arts section(oh, the irony!) in 2005 had a brief discussion on the GreenJolly incident, along with many other Eurovision oddities and trivia; read it here. The article mentions the gently anti-American sentiment to the Russian entry that year and that Norway once entered a song about hydro-electric power - can this really be true? Knowing Eurovision - probably, and it's almost certainly on Wikipedia, which seems very strong on Eurovision! If anyone can be bothered to look it up, I'll blog it. Promise.

Toby's Eurovision-politics trivia contribution: Lulu's "Boom Bang A Bang" (joint first place 1969), was deemed unsuitable for airplay by the BBC during the 1991 Gulf War. If I remember correctly though, they forgot to put The Cure's "killing an Arab" on the list. Doh.

Toby's rather pitiful Eurovision claim to fame: I've met one of this year's presenters, Jaana Pelkonen, at a mate's party. She seemed very nice and is just as pretty as she looks on the telly, but she is very very small. Pocket sized really. I hope her co-presenter isn't too tall, or older British viewer at least might be reminded of the immortal 1989 Brit awards, with Sam Fox and and that tall bloke from Fleetwood Mac - the worst awards ceremony ever?

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