USA – Yesterday I discovered an article at the website of the “Bygone Bureau” by a Norwegian, trying to explain to Americans what exactly the Eurovision Song Contest really is. Now, explaining Eurovision to Americans might be as hard as explaining to the French what retirement at 67 feels like. Nevertheless, the author manages to sum up the positive aspects, the slight craziness and extravaganza that is the Eurovision Song Contest. “It’s responsible for some of the most ridiculous songs and costumes in the history of the world.” To support this impression he offers youtube videos of Verka Serdutschka and Lordi while saying about them: “Hard Rock Hallelujah: It went on to win the entire contest, and is arguably the biggest insult to metal since Cradle of Filth covered Iron Maiden’s ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name.’ and about Verka: ‘Silver drag outfit, Eastern European dance beats, different languages — surely a winning strategy’ .
Olsen then explains the voting procedure and (inevitably) the block and political voting and cites the Economist of 2005 : ‘Where Eurovision goes, the EU tends to follow’. He mentions the joining of Eastern European countries after the fall of the wall, which would later become EU member as well in 2004 and 2007. ‘And while the contest alone is not enough to bring down the dictatorship of Lukashenko in Belarus, it’s a breath of fresh air and a window to the rest of the continent when they participate.’ As an example where such a revolution actually worked Olsen cites the Carnation revolution in 1974 in Portugal launched by the Portuguese Eurovision entry that year (more about that tomorrow in a new ESC History )
Christoffer Torris Olsen also warns conservative (yuck Republicans) Americans.‘I’m glad FOX News has no idea what’s going on over here. Sexually suggestive content is normal and downright popular in Eurovision, and progressive subcultures are frequently promoted.’ The examples he choses for that are Dana’s win in 1998 and the German entry in 2009, with burlesque and fetish star Dita Von Teese and a bear-chested German (he’s American but i’ll forgive him). ‘To compare, the FCC received 540,000 indecency complaints after Janet Jackson’s errant nipple at the 2004 Superbowl. One hundred million Europeans wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow.’
He also talks about the interval act and cites the amazing flashmob this year as an example how Eurovision promotes a ‘pan-European identity’.
Finally Olsen advises American to follow the Eurovision Song Contest more closely in the future as ‘The EU is the U.S. ‘s largest competitor and closest ally on the world stage, so it’s a good idea to learn a bit more about what we do. Make sure to clear May 14, 2011 in your calendar.’
In case they get bit bored he advises entertainment-spoiled Americans to play a drinking game: ‘one shot for each unnecessary vocal modulation. Don’t worry, it only happens in about twice per song. Good luck.’
Thanks to Christoffer Torris Olsen for a great sum up of our most loved television event.