Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Eurovision 2016: Conspiracy or Compassion?

I know I'm late to the game, but I watched Eurovision this year as well, and I was stunned by the happenings as much as Vladimir Putin was, although mostly for different reasons. Jamala, a Ukrainian songstress with ridiculous tubes, managed to put some of those goosebumps on me everyone always talks about; that never happens. And at the end of a very long last day of packing and saying goodbye to Cairo I had to stay up until the early hours of Sunday morning to see if the Russians had been defeated by the Ukrainians for once. And thanks to the new Eurovision voting system, that actually happened. The responses were different, and funnily enough they had less to do with how much one liked the song but more with how one views the Russians.

Of course, not entirely unjustifiably, the Russians were furious: the majority of the voting public had voted their song as the best, but nearly half of the 42 voting countries' juries hadn't given the Beyonce copycat a single point. The problem was that, as of this year, apparently the new voting system changed all outcomes. The juries of Eurovision clearly loved the incredibly boring performance by the Australian doll singer more than the public, but the public points put her back in her place, making the decision between Russia and Ukraine. With both of these singers left as the only ones who hadn't received public points yet, we all knew either one would win the competition. It just depended on how many points Russia would get, and if the public had called enough to overcome the jury's lack of points.

That didn't happen. Maybe it was a political decision of any Eurovision jury to deny the homophobic country to put up the gayest party of the year or express their disdain over Russian foreign policy lately, or maybe it was simply the fact that Russia was trying to win the competition with basically the same person, song and performance as Sweden last year. While that is probably not the reason, it does serve as a legitimate excuse: nobody wants to see the Russian version of last year's winner Mans host the competition next year. The jury seemed to have made the decision that a woman who made the entire arena go quiet would be more deserving, maybe because they were the only ones who remembered last year's forgettable telecast.

I, for one, was very happy about this "injustice": I thought Russia's song was unoriginal and boring, and other than the optical illusions of the performance I already forgot everything about it. The Ukrainian song, however, still haunts me days later. The song stood out from all the others, was by far the most genuine in meaning and performance, and added historical significance to the competition. If a song, partly sung in a Crimean Tartar dialect, inspired by true events, can win Eurovision, the diversity of Europe is illustrated as much as Conchita Wurst's win illustrated that Europeans are, at least if an entertainment show is an indicator, accepting and open-minded, and I can't help but like that. And maybe, just maybe, people actually like the depiction of war, not war against the Russians...

The biggest loser in this is poor Sergey, the Russian singer who, in fact, disagrees with the Russians' actions in Crimea, most likely the subject of his loss. He traveled to Stockholm thinking he will win, only to be robbed of the win by a Ukrainian woman who pretty much sang a song about how terrible his countrymen are. For the second year in a row Russia got second place which, as a German football fan, I know freacking blows. Always being up there but never winning the title must suck, especially when the public wants you to win (World Cup 2006, Euro 2012, thanks very much, everyone hates Italy...). Russians seemed to think that the Americans picked the winner, which of course is a pile of something. In fact, if the US participated I think they'd get even less points, nobody likes these guys. In this particular example, however, Russia really doesn't get to complain: be nicer to gay people and stop annexing places, and the Eurovision juries, I believe, would be happy to have a Moscow competition... 

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