So. Eurovision. I don’t know what others think of it but I personally love it – who couldn’t love an international event celebrating music, songs, performance and all different kinds of culture? I’ve only been watching it for a few years, since 2009 – the year that Alexander Rybak won with his lovely, lovely, mad violin playing in Fairytale. That was when I lived in Germany, and when German Lena won in 2010 Germany was thrilled, and I was so glad to be in Germany then. Satellite was played on the radio and in supermarkets and people loved her. At least, that’s my experience of it.
Then I returned to Australia and thankfully it seems that Australians are the only non-Europeans who also adore Eurovision, which is fantastic for me because that means that SBS airs it at a reasonable hour and so last weekend I watched it and revelled in the amazingly over the top performances and dancing and singing and celebrations. Admittedly, I could hardly join in, being on the other side of the world, but I did get to watch Marry Me (the Finnish entry) and shriek with laughter born of excitement and surprise when the two girls kissed onstage (good on you, Finland) and smile uncontrollably at the mundane sweetness of Tomorrow (Malta’s adorable entry), and all the other great and even not-so-great songs.
Then I went to school and no one else had watched it, because they’ve never even heard of it, and I was sad, because I adore Eurovision (as you may have noticed).
One of the reasons I love Eurovision so much is that it’s so very diverse. There are only a few performances that might rival so-called ‘mainstream’ pop music – like Taylor Swift and Maroon 5 – but nonetheless there’s a lot of wonderful music. My mother’s favourite part about it has always been the way countries like to incorporate elements of their own culture into their performances – like Greece’s entry this year, Alcohol is Free, with their traditional instruments and kilts and dancing. But personally, I just respect every single performer up there for being so very cheerful.
Cheerful isn’t the best word to use but I can hardly think of the right one. The performers are so carefree, brave, happy, ready to enjoy themselves – they happily wear their kilts and grin at the audience, or do what I call Russian-dancing (a gross generalization, I know), or play flutes or just dance or sing their hearts out and just give it their all. They’re all so glad to be there, and they don’t seem to fear public backlash for daring to wear a skirt in public – perhaps because it’s far less likely to occur in Europe, where it’s generally accepted that, well, yeah, some people’s cultures include guys wearing skirts and some don’t and that’s just fine.
Everyone filmed at Eurovision honestly seems to be there with the purpose of having a really great time, and enjoying themselves to the full. Obviously the contestants want to win for their country, but they also want to have fun, and the whole thing is this lovely mixture of jokes and music and culture and joy. That’s basically one of the best atmospheres possible, in my opinion – and it even infects the viewers at home with their TVs, at least, it always affects me.
So when I realise that Eurovision is sadly limited, for the most part, to Europe and a part of Australia, I can’t help but think that everyone else is seriously missing out. Eurovision is exactly the kind of event that the international world should have more of, in my opinion. And America? Come on, guys, this is seriously a great way to spend your Sunday evening. Take it from me.
I don’t know if Europe is as much more accepting than Australia as I think it is, but it certainly seems that way, and I really just wish that more first-world Western countries could adopt a similar practice of actually, honestly celebrating all cultures, without feeling the need to ridicule people for having a different ethnicity and as such different customs.
Australia is known as a multicultural mecca – and we do certainly have lots of different types of cuisine available. But in my experience we don’t actually let people celebrate their culture, at least, not without forcing them to also endure ethnic stereotyping and something like brainwashing, trying to tell people that they can’t do such-and-such because that’s ‘not how WE do it’. Maybe there are areas that do – perhaps it’s just my particular generation, or the physical location I live in – maybe I’ll go to uni in Sydney soon and that will be when I discover those people in the shadows who completely agree with me. But for the time being, I’m stuck with the people who would mock a Eurovision performer if ever they saw one perform – so I have to take in solace in just watching Eurovision on TV and seeing the crowds there and knowing that those people do exist, somewhere out there in this big wide world.
So, overall, I just really, really like Eurovision. Anyone have free tickets to Denmark next year?