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26 May 2015

This was the year Eurovision became more about the politics than the songs

What with Russia’s homophobia and Britain’s EU tensions, it’s not really about the music anymore.

By Eleanor Margolis

So, “anti-booing technology” exists. If you watched Eurovision on Saturday, that probably isn’t news to you. This stunning breakthrough in censorship was deployed in this year’s song contest in an attempt to make Europeans (and Australians, for some reason) forget how much we bloody hate Russia these days. Or perhaps not Mother Russia, as such, but the gay-bashing, war hungry symphony in botox that is her leader.

Since Putin began his vendetta against his nation’s LGBT community in 2013, Eurovision (a “hotbed of sodomy” according to some anti-gay Russians who enjoy stating the obvious) has been a literal arena in which pro-gay Europe can give him a colossal rainbow striped middle finger. See Russia’s 2014 Eurovision contestant getting booed to buggery by the crowd. There was still booing this year, when Russia’s emotional disaster of an entry, Polina Gagarina, took to the stage dressed as Moscow’s predictably odd answer to Marilyn Monroe and belted out “A Million [heterosexual] Voices”.

As someone who was born right when the Cold War ended, this year’s Eurovision was the most politically and emotionally charged in living memory. Aptly, in the wake of Ireland voting to introduce same-sex marriage, it was a festival of jeers, queers and tears. A description, I realise, which could be applied to any given Eurovision. But guys, this one was intense.

Live in Vienna, Austria’s most famous bearded person in a dress – the beautiful Conchita Wurst – appeared to be on the verge of emotional collapse at least seventeen times. Last year’s winner and one of this year’s hosts did well to choke back what was clearly a Kaiserschmarrn of feelings every time a camera was pointed at her and she was expected to engage in atrociously scripted Austrian banter. This climaxed in a tearful Ms Wurst interviewing an even more tearful and seemingly victory-bound Ms Gagarina. Conchita, who I hope is now being considered for the role of Austrian ambassador to Russia, even implored the audience to stop booing Gagarina.

Flashbacks to our general election abounded when Russia (which represents the Conservatives, obviously) rushed ahead in the voting portion of the evening. “La Russie, douze points” is a phrase that sent shivers down the spine of gay Europe, which began to envision a Moscow-hosted Eurovision 2016, stripped of all queerness by Putin and his thugs.

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Meanwhile, rumours that Russia was censoring Conchita in their Eurovision broadcast hit Twitter. The gay apocalypse was truly upon us. What’s more, the Serbian entry, a Valkyrie in a sequined cape whom the internet quickly deemed queer Europe’s spirit animal, was being denied the recognition she well and truly deserved. The contest then crescendoed in industrial strength irony when it was won by the only homophobe in Sweden. In an interview ,“Heroes” singer Måns Zelmerlöw said some pretty Putin-worthy things about gay people being “unnatural” and whatnot. The irony here was reinforced by Polina Gagarina, seen here double kissing Conchita,  quite possibly, being a friend o’gays. Either way, hot take fans were, I’m sure, thrilled to hear Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin’s evaluation of his country’s loss: “The West will collapse under ISIS and gays.”

And, by the way, anyone in doubt of the UK’s pre-EU referendum pariah status may have been surprised to see our entry doing only very slightly better than Germany’s nul pointer. Or perhaps the rest of Europe has finally cottoned on to that British sense of superiority, which is at its most noticeable during Eurovision. It’s a combination of ours being the only competing nation that doesn’t take the contest seriously and our safety in the knowledge that, if we did, we’d just send in, say, Sam Smith, and he’d walk it.

But, in all seriousness, Eurovision seems to be getting more political every year. This year, there was intrigue, censorship and a promise of Armageddon from a Russian statesman.

Oh and there were some songs too, but I’m not sure those are relevant any more.