eurovision: europe’s dirty little secret
As an American living abroad, I’ve developed a renewed sense of patriotism. Not a crazy “U-S-A, U-S-A” chanting, American-flag-on-my-denim-vest kind of patriotism, but the kind that comes from feeling that we (Americans) are at times unfairly judged based on a select number of TV shows, movies and news clips that are exported abroad.
I’ve found myself defending everything from our cuisine (no, hamburgers are not our national cuisine) to our basic intellect (yes, I do know the difference between Slovenia and Slovakia). So, naturally, when something like Eurovision comes along I always think to myself “Why is this not aired in the USA?”
Eurovision in a nutshell: Every country from the European Broadcasting Union sends a performer (chosen American Idol-style in their home country) to the Eurovision contest hosted by the previous year’s winner. Last year’s winner was from Norway, hence this year the contest is held in Oslo. Previous winners include, but aren’t limited to, Celine Dion, ABBA and a Finnish group dressed as orcs singing “Hard Rock Hallelujah”.
Lest you be tempted to think that many of these performances are tongue in cheek, I’ve learned the hard way that they are taken seriously. After a particularly cheesy Russian contestant won the contest by performing in a tight white outfit while accompanied by an ice skater and a violinist, I joked around with colleagues from Russia. I mean really, an ice-skater?! Really? Unfortunately for me, this was no joking matter. One of the women had been to his concert the night before and was likely a card-carrying member of his fan club. Lesson learned: Know your audience before you crack a Eurovision joke.
But this brings us back to the question as to why this isn’t aired in the USA. I just don’t know. Perhaps Europe wants to be known for Eurovision as badly as the USA wants to be known for the Jersey Shore. The difference is that Europe has the common sense to keep it on the continent, whereas we share the hot mess that is the Jersey Shore with the rest of the world.
I can promise you this: It’s good fun regardless of whether or not you take this seriously. You can’t help but get a kick out of a band that consists of three guys who start off in dorky plaid pants and Adidas sneakers singing a mediocre song and ends with them inexplicably ripping off their pants to reveal silver-sequin hot pants.
That’s the beauty of the show. There are no limits to the level of bizarre in each act–it’s a no-holds-barred cheese fest. And getting to watch them with British commentary that consistently delivers dry, sarcastic humor makes for a good time. Of course, the wine consumed before and during the show probably doesn’t hurt either.
So, watch Eurovision this year or at least tune in for the incredibly handy 10-minute recap of all the acts aired at the end of the show–it’s conveniently offered as a webcast. And then the next time you’re confronted with someone saying, “All Americans are fat and lazy,” you can respond with, “Right, in the same way that all Finns are head-banging orcs”. Trite? Most definitely. Fun? Absolutely.
**All photos courtesy of Eurovision.tv