Editorial – In this section of our blog we will collect the Editorials of our administrators, contributors and of our readers about numerous topics concerning the Eurovision Song Contest. If you would like to contribute to this part of “The Eurovision Times”. Please send your editorials or whatever you`d like to appear here to firstname.lastname@example.org
Editorial: Black Lives Matter
Editorial – In 2015 I reported in an article that Alexander Rybak had performed on a TV programme where he sang as Gloria Gaynor. In this programme he was made up to look like the black singer.
The Black Lives Matter campaign has recently brought into focus issues such as blackface. The practice of blackface dates back to the mid-19th century when black people were not allowed to perform on stage. White actors would black up and invariably joke at black people’s expense. It was stereotyping, and showed white people felt they were superior to blacks people. The representation of black people as caricatures is demeaning. The Black and White Minstrels Show would no longer be acceptable today, so other forms of blackface should also be as abhorrent. Blackface is offensive and racist and has a long and painful history.
Several politicians and media stars, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and singer Katy Perry, have been involved in blackface scandals in recent years. In the last few weeks we have seen celebrities apologising for historical but still relatively recent black face. Comedian Keith Lemon (Leigh Francis) in the UK made a heartfelt apology. The Little Britain comedy series has had episodes removed where Matt Lucas and David Walliams played black characters. In the US, The Simpsons and Family Guy will only cast people of colour to voice black characters in future.
I am personally sorry that I posted that article in 2015, without thinking, which did not call out this practice of blackface. I am grateful to Jaimy on Twitter for making me consider what was wrong with that article and further my learning. The article has been removed, and Eurovision Times will no longer report on any programmes that promote such practices.
Black and Minority Ethnic people are regularly under-represented at Eurovision events. Although it has improved on stage recently at the contest itself, it is still noticeable in the make up of delegations, in EBU teams, in the reference group and in the press centre during the contest.
It is no longer enough not to be racist. We must be anti-racist and call it out when we see it. We must learn to see it. I am committed to doing better. We must all do better. Because black do lives matter.
For more information on how you can make a difference, by donating to relevant causes and continuing to learn about the discrimination black people face, check out these educational resources here and here.
Editorial: The Language Issue
Editorial – After the usual „this is the worst ESC year ever“ cries on certain platforms, we now realize that 2011 is not that bad at all. There is a development tough that is deplorable: Of the 43 entries this year only 8 (Spain, France, Bulgaria, Poland, Macedonia, Serbia, Cyprus and Portugal) will perform their entry entirely in a language other than English. France’s decision to perform its operatic song in Corsican means that this year will not have a single entry in French (except one sentence in Lithuania’s chorus). After the contest was dominated by French in its earlier years and French was at least the second most important language over the decades this year marks a new down point.
Even countries which usually would be expected to perform in their own language like Slovakia, San Marino and Slovenia (allegedly) have sprung on the English bandwagon, but who can blame them?
Last year out of the 14 non-qualifiers, 9 had performed in their national language and only 4 songs performed in a language other than English qualified (Serbia, Greece, Portugal, Israel). In the final the first 7 places were reserved for songs in English, only Greece could make it into the Top 10 with their song “Opa”. The other non-English entries were France (12.), Serbia (13.), Israel (14.), Spain (15.) Portugal (18.). All this shows, that a song performed in it’s national language has it harder to get a good result. Since 1995 only one song has won the contest in a language other than English (Serbia 2007)
The problem I see with this is that the contest loses a lot of it’s intentional appeal and its goal, to show different European cultures. The Dutch representatives, the 3JS, have never sung in English in their career, but they seem to think that they need to perform in English to get a good result and the biggest problem is that they are right. It is also the televoter’s and juries fault for favouring songs in English.
In the future, there are countries which are more likely to sing in English (Germany, Scandinavia) and others that will probably send entries in their national language in the coming years. The protest in Poland against Magdalena Tul’s intention of performing in English is a cause of hope as it shows, that the fans can actually influence these decisions. Let’s hope this “anglophonization” does not progress as it has or in 2020 we will only hear songs in English.
Editorial: The Curse of Winning
Editorial – As Eurovision 2011 approaches, artists are picked and songs are selected for Düsseldorf, the competition increases. Who will win and therefore host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012? Fans of each country are desperate their country wins – national pride mainly, but it also makes it cheaper to go the next year! Others want their favourite country to win so they have a good excuse to go on holiday there.
But what about the broadcasters? They want to do well. Just look at the United Kingdom, who have finished last three times in the last eight years, much to the disappointment of the public in the UK. It looks bad to do badly, especially for a country that contributes significantly to the costs of Eurovision.
However, at the same time, not everyone wants to win. Winning the contest is great for national pride, but it comes at a cost – hosting the competition the next year. In 2010, Norwegian broadcaster NRK spent an estimated €25 million to host the contest, which was far less than Russia spent in 2009. It’s an expensive business. So just who can afford to host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012, especially when money is still so tight across Europe?
Certainly it would seem that NRK are unwilling to host again so soon. Hosting Eurovision meant they couldn’t show the World Cup. The BBC in the UK is facing cuts and would also find it a financial burden, although there would be no question of them not hosting if the UK won. Many countries such as Hungary and San Marino struggle to afford to even send people to Eurovision, before even thinking about hosting the competition. Ireland, one of the most successful countries in Eurovision history, is in financial meltdown and RTE would surely not want the financial burden. Germany, however, seem to still be going for it, and Lena certainly seems determined to keep the Eurovision title.
So, who can afford to win this year? Or if the country that wins Eurovision can’t afford to host next year, which countries might be able to step in and host it instead?
Editorial: Italy’s Return is Historic:
Italy – Yesterday was a historic date for the Eurovision Song Contest. After 13 long years one of the biggest European countries announced it’s return to Europe’s most favourite TV-show: Italy. The return of the Mediterranean country came as a big surprise to me. After the final of X-Factor (whose winner was reported to go to Eurovision 3 months ago) passed without a single word being uttered about a possible Italian Eurovision return, I was 99% convinced that 2011, just as the other 13 years before, would not have an Italian entry. I would not have bet a single euro on their return. Yesterday eurovision.tv said they would disclose news that no Eurovision fan would forget in his lifetime and we won’t because Italy’s return signifies much more than just an additional song in the running:
Why did Italy return?
This is of course pure speculation, but the fact that Germany (A Big4-country) won this year is certainly one of the reasons for Italy’s return. The fact that a big, central European, traditional Eurovision country can win, even after all the changes the Eurovision Song Contest went through since Italy’s withdrawal 1997, might have been the trigger. However, Italy never withdrew due to political voting (as Austria did). Their argument back in 97 was that they wanted to concentrate on their popular San Remo-Festival rather than the Eurovision Song Contest. Hence, there must be other reasons as well.
If we are completely honest to ourselves, we have to admit, even tough we love the Eurovision Song Contest, that in the 90s and in the beginning of the 00s it was not a competition that produced hits all over the continent (as in the 70s). The last 2 years we had winning songs that actually reached the Top5 of a bunch of different countries. “Fairytale” by Alexander Rybak and “Satellite” by Lena (and most notably their success on the charts) have made the contest more interesting to labels and respected musicians. The fact that popular artists like Patricia Kaas or groups like MaNga participated is also an indication for the growing popularity of Eurovision. Italy might have understood that the contest has changed fundamentally. If this development continues our favourite TV-show might see a new peak of its popularity (remember the 70s?).
How will Italy return?
As I said earlier, the rumor is that the winner of the casting show X-Factor will represent Italy in Düsseldorf. The winner of latest season that just ended was Nathalie Giannitrapani. Her debut single is called “In punta di piedi” (On tiptoes). No information has been disclosed by RAI yet whether Nathalie will actually be their entrant. One thing is almost sure: Italy will sing in Italian. They always did and I don’t think they will change this tradition (and they shouldn’t)
Another important question is whether Italy will become part of the 4 countries that qualify for the final automatically as they’re the biggest financial contributors to the contest. The Big4 (Germany, France, UK, Spain) would thus turn into a Big5. According to oikotimes Italy has not yet applied for this special status, but further information about this issue is expected to be released shortly. In my opinion there is no reason why Italy shouldn’t be part of the Big5. With their 60 million inhabitants and good economic position they will surely pay a bigger participation fee than Spain does right now.
What impact does Italy’s return have?
First of all, Italy’s return is striking evidence that the popularity of our favourite contest has been and still is rising. This amazing return represents a gain in viewers for the contest of about 5-6 million (my prediction). It also means a growing fan base and 60 million more people who might buy the Eurovision winner after the contest.
Italy’s participation fee will also help smaller countries: The costs the produce the contest will not grow just because one more country is participating, but if that country is Italy it means a big increase in revenue from participation fees for the EBU. We can now hope (and expect) that the participation fees for the other countries might be lowered. That way countries like Andorra, Montenegro or Slovakia, which do not participate due to financial issues, may be able to return sooner than expected.
Furthermore, the fact that a big national broadcaster like the RAI takes the contest seriously again might change the attitude of other countries that do not seem to be very interested in the contest and particularly in their results anymore (You know who I mean).
All in all, Italy’s return could really turn out to be a historic change of the Eurovision Song Contest. Let’s hope they will stay even if their result is not perfect.
Editorial: Eternal Sufferings of a Eurovision Fan
Eurovision 2010 – “You are a total freak” ; “Are you crazy?”, “What is wrong with you” … These are just some of the reactions you get when you have your “coming out” as a Eurovision fan in Germany (and I’m pretty sure in quite a number of other countries as well). I’m a Eurovision Song Contest fan for 12 years now. My first contest was 1998 when Guildo Horn revived the competition in Germany. I watched it with my family and was immediatly impressed by its idea and also the voting procedure. Over the years my love for the contest grew (Only missing the 2002 one for a reason I can’t remember), but you could never tell anyone about it in fear of “social isolation” (Ok, maybe I exaggerate a little). But this year this situation changed completely for me and it’s all thanks to a young girl who is a year younger than me and doesn’T give a rats ass about Eurovision: Lena Meyer-Landrut. Her win has turned the general opinion and image of the Eurovision Song Contest in Germany. Every single (no matter how serious or conservative) newspaper contained Lena’s picture under the heading “Eurovision Song Contest win for Germany” (or something of the sort). Her win was even featured in the most watched (and most reputable) German news programme the “tagesschau“. My friends on facebook flooded their walls with posts of sympathy for Lena and Germany : “Love oh love, I gotta tell you how I feel about you” “We did it!” “Party!”. It’s a very good feeling to know that no one will call you crazy anymore if you tell them you love Eurovision because these days most of them will too . To all those who mocked, ridiculed or annoyed me over these 12 (sometimes) frustrating years, I only have one thing to say: “Ihr könnt mich alle mal” (google translate may help NOT)
And there is another level on which I have to be thankful to the girl from Hannover. As a German in Bulgaria, I always answered the question “Are you German?” with the words: “Yes unfortunately“. I even had the plan to become French *g*. ow I’m proud to say “I’m German and I invite you to Eurovision next year!“. The night of the historic (I know I know, exaggerating) win, I spent with friends from Bulgaria and an American (who voted for Russia tzzz), after that I went to a disco to celebrate with my German flag (ooo). They even made a little announcement about our win (Probably to save me from a fist fight!?) and I felt better than ever to be “that German guy“….
So thank you Lena for making my life as a Eurovision fan a little easier.
If you had similar experiences, write me and I’ll publish your comments