For those who haven’t heard of the Eurovision Song Contest, it is a showcase and celebration of music that has been running since the 50s (1956 in fact). Member countries from the European Broadcasting Union put forward a candidate and song to represent them in a contest to find the creame of European music, voted on by the television viewers. In the past few years, not all countries automatically qualify and there are heats and semi-finals held before the showpiece event staged at the previous years’ winning country. TV audiences across the world tuned into this year’s event over the past weekend – hosted by Russia – and the calculated audience was around 100 million.
While voting is now open to the full TV audiences from the different countries, there is always some tactical voting for neighbors and political allies. While you would originally scream at the injustice, its all part of the event and doesn’t really affect the final placings. Its all a bit of a laugh at the end of the day, along with the costumes; performances; lyrics and quite unfunny presenters.
Of course, Eurovision may be high kitsch, but like everything else it can be used to tackle serious issues or at least, bring them out into the open. Look at last week; the admittedly camp contest was used by Russian gay activists to help them march against homophobia and rights abuses, something which usually ends up in riots and physical violence against them. In the end it was thwarted, but with such a global audience it did help to highlight a huge problem within the country, where officials call gay protestors “Satanists” or “Weapons of Mass Destruction.”
So now its time to widen the scope and include non-Europrean countries. We’re a global village aren’t we, with television and the Internet breaking international boundaries, and so many countries outside of the EBU do watch avidly; why the hell not include the other continents? There’s already an Asia Pacific contest, why not an Americas equivalent or better, combine them all. Take the best from each continent and run localised contests with finalists representing their territories in a World Song Contest? Can you imagine what would happen if the US actually hosted an event? If Moscow can spend $42 million on this year’s, with writhing women on plastic pools of water lowered from the ceiling like some sort of high class mosh pit, what do you think the likes of Washington or San Francisco or LA could do?
Spectacular wouldn’t even get close to describing it.