Well, you’re not watching it for the music, surely?
Eurovision, for all it reaches some 600 millions will, I suspect, pass many of the largely American readership of The Oligarch Kings by. Which is a pity as you really don’t know what you are missing.
It may be a continental Kitsch-fest, every bit as gay as a tree full of parrots but there is more to Eurovision than harlots miming to fireworks.
Of course it was never about the music. It’s a national popularity contest, which explains the funny voting. The Scandinavian bloc all vote for each other, and so do the countries of the old Soviet Empire. Turkey never votes for Greece, Spain votes for Portugal and vice versa. Germany votes for Turkey because that is where their domestic staff come from, and nobody, nobody ever votes for Britain.
There has been research into all this and that magnificent graphic below is Andrew Gelman’s insight into friendship blocs in Eurovision.
Shameless. So why do I sit glued to the box, vin rouge in hand, shaking with laughter? Because there is suspense too. Do you want a heads up on how Greece might vote in its election? Then watch how many votes Greece gives Germany this year! How is Turkey’s application to join the EU going? Just how much do the Europeans hate the Brits for supporting the Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan? Watch the votes.
Eurovision is a political barometer as certain as the Dow is for financial markets.
It can be very odd for Americans. I remember in the 70’s watching exchange students sitting open mouthed in front of it. It doesn’t fit easily into their world-view. Eurovision is stuffed full of cross-dressers, flagrant transvestites, whole ranks of performers as camp as a row of tents, provocative girls in their knickers, and all before the 9.00pm watershed. Indeed, we Europeans encourage children to watch it! All of which might only confirm the more straight laced in the USA in their opinions of all things European. And then you get a clutch of old grannies in their peasant frocks who take the stage by storm. No seriously, press the button.
There, now wasn’t that wonderful? If you want to understand Europe this is as good a way as any.
Copyright David Macadam 2012