Finals. The Swiss TV commentator has basically given up. There’s no point, he says during the Spanish entry, having the nice white outfits and the OK song. They’re not from the East. Nice song, Ireland, he says later, and you could’ve won with it a few years ago. Not now.
Swiss TV man’s pessimism is rubbing off. Just what is this Eastern domination thing about? It’s like we were nice people and invited the slightly poorer swarthy neighbours into the country club, and now they’re hogging the buffet. More than that, now they’re serving cepavici and everything seems to be made of plums.
Is it that the population of these misbegotten countries has nothing else to care about? Are they just more patriotic than the rest of the West, voting region before they vote for talent? Or is it that there is an indentity of taste that stretches from Belarus down, through Bulgaria, down to Georgia, for slightly icky over-portentious pap?
— oooh Greece, we have to watch this. Wife’s Greek. Good song. “Yia sou Maria”. Catchy. Nice. Bubbly. Doesn’t matter, we would be voting for it even was shit. Still it feels slightly better if it is actually good.
Sweden is on with another transvestite. Denmark’s got one too. I think this is the key to the problem. The old Eurovision powers are trying to regain their former Eurovision greatness with irony. It worked with Lordy, which is why we are in Finland now, but that was so extreme (and cool) because Lordy took themselves seriously, giant bats and satanic metal demons that they were. Transvestites are not going to win it. The Israelis did it once and now it’s stale, anyway. The problem is that irony is not motivational or inspirational outside western European voter bases, who basically consist of slacker yoofs sitting slightly pissed in their Eurovision parties. So while the ironists are voted in to represent their countries in the western, fully developed economies, in the Ukraine . . .
. . . oh dear Ukraine is fielding a transvestite too. It’s quite good actually, the entry is armed with an overtly political message: “good-bye Russia” is the chorus, however the Ukrainians swear it is really a mongolian phrase expressing a liking for milk. The Russians aren’t buying it and are apparently annoyed, Swiss guy tells us. It is a clever move, I think, I can imagine anti-Russian tranvestitism selling rather well in the oppressed East. Lots of voters there.
Anyway, in countries like er Bulgaria or Armenia (on now, oh dear it is very dramatic he’s covered in blood at the end), they still take it seriously. They are new in the European Union, or are trying to get in, and for them Eurovision is, no kidding, a first step. Perhaps they think this is how we westerners behave, that we are serious people; we have to be, it must be how we got rich. They want to put their best foot forward. They don’t have the confidence not to take it seriously. More of the population votes, I imagine, their base energised with the wish to participate in a European project, hoping desperately to impress us, and while they cannot vote for their own countries, they sympathise with others in the same predicament. They also have large economic dispora in Western countries who will vote for their homeland without fail. We in the west are stricken with apathy. Italy even forgot to send an entry.
So my thesis is that the Eastern domination of Eurovision is unstoppable, due to economic and social forces beyond our control. The center of gravity of the competition will move east further, into Asia and the “stans”. It will have to, if Eurovision is to survive and retain its vitality. But in its wake will come prosperity, political stability, the rule of law and eventually luxuries like irony, into parts of the world where barbarism ruled previously. This is a very very good thing. It would make Spinoza very happy, I am sure.
Voting now. Montenegro gives 12 points to Serbia. Belarus gives 12 points to Russia. Austria gives top marks to Serbia, Bosnia and Turkey, its biggest immigrant populations. Serbia is in the lead, Ukraine following, Russia after. It’s close, but an Eastern bloc clean sweep so far. I feel vindicated.
UPDATE: Serbia wins, by a long way. A serious song, something about praying. In Serbian, which is a good thing, I prefer it when the easterns don’t sing ungrammatical nonsense in heavily accented english. Swiss guy was happy in the end, he said it was the best song. It was OK I guess, but sounded a bit like a slavic Celine Dion number to me. Liked the lesbian overtones though.