Life has been busy recently. Work has been particularly busy, especially with us suddenly losing half our staff in just a few weeks. Crazy added worked load and added responsibility, but hey, once we find replacements that can only mean good things for me I guess! Alongside that there’s been a lot of things going on outside of work and outside of the digital realm of Digital Salad. Honestly, I’ve hardly had chance to game recently.
There’s one thing I always make time for every May though – the Eurovision Song Contest.
For the unfamiliar, since the 1950s, the countries of Europe bring together their musicians of choice, watch each other’s performances and then vote. It’s spawned the careers of some huge artists such as ABBA and given us the unforgettable experiences of others such as Lordi.
Many, many people will make bitter statements about Eurovision. In the UK in particular we like to grumble about the political voting. Of course, with a system that allows the public to vote that’s bound to happen; but the organisers have worked to reduce that by splitting the vote from each country 50/50 between the public and a national panel of ‘experts’. It helps, but it still very clearly happens.
I love the political voting though, its a fascinating insight into the current politics of Europe. Who stands where and why – Eurovision is one of the best windows into that.
This year was a particularly fascinating one, with several songs making not entirely subtle overtones about equality and peace. Russia in particular was not in favour this year, with boos sounding in the arena whenever they received any sizeable points.
Ukraine meanwhile beat them in the table, with even stalwart Russian allies sometimes giving Ukraine more points than Russia; such as Moldova. More than ever, Eurovision 2014, is showing a tilting of the tables politically in the continent which its been difficult to discern from politics themselves.
The UK always benefits from a bit of political voting ourselves though its easy to overlook. We almost never get 0 points thanks to a few points from Ireland, Malta and Belgium – our nearest and dearest European friends. That’s political voting, just countries such as Russia benefit a bit more than us from it, so we grumble.
Somehow, despite that, the winners of Eurovision are always very well deserved. No “political” winner has ever won, although you could argue that Austria’s win this year has political overtones, with Russia banning transmission of the song by self-defined gender neutral drag artist Conchita Wurst.
Honestly though, despite the joy of many Europeans of finding a way to piss President Putin off, we voted for Austria from across the continent because it was a good song with real emotion to it – a deserving winner.
Why do I love Eurovision?
I honestly don’t know. None of my parents or relatives watch it, and many out-right despise it. Yet, for me, and many others in my younger generation we see something in Eurovision. Its lighthearted fun and we feel a joy at being a part of it. We laugh at the UK’s performance and promise to go and visit the places that throw us consolidatory points.
I know I feel European when I sit down to watch Eurovision, and that feels like a really special identity. Together we can do amazing things. Voting for a gender neutral artist as the representative of the best of European culture is the kind of progress I want us to make more of – and together we will do it. In the words of Pollaponk, Iceland’s 2014 entry, “we gotta get together on this, to cross this problem off our list”.
So, here’s to Europe and to having good fun together as friends. I’ll leave you with Pollaponk, my personal favourite from 2014:
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