Saturday, May 21, 2005
"Eurovision": a protest. posted by Richard SeymourOkay, so let's get this straight. The songs deliberately suck. Terry Wogan is a machine designed to expostulate, titter and groan in his faux-Oirish fashion whenever the appropriate button is pushed. And the worst of these very very bad songs appears to be winning (when everyone knows Greece should be winning). All this I can understand - we are, after all, in Europe.
However, one place that isn't in Europe is Israel. Israel is definitely not in Europe. Israel is in Asia, just next to Africa. So why does it have a slot, when Palestine does not? Why not Egypt come to that? And why does it keep getting lots of votes when its song is shit?
Seriously, if the arbitrary continental restriction no longer applies, surely the name should be dropped. How about Whitevision? Or, given the quality of the songs, Whitetrashvision? No, better yet, Crackervision!
I've been to various spots in Europe. I know enough to say that the brown Thames is somehow more pleasant for me than the green Seine or the blue Danube. However, the extent to which casual racism is simply a part of European life had to be hammered home to me in Vienna, where Rachel Whitread's Holocaust Memorial sits in the Judenplatz. There you can find cake-shops selling delicacies like 'the little darkie', as well as racist graffiti more noxious than that on some very public walls. What was once known as 'Red Vienna' is now the youth suicide capital of Europe, and it wasn't hard to tell why. The best of Old Europe was eclipsed by the worst of New Europe; the worst of Old Europe eclipsed the best of New Europe. To put it like this, the Stephansdom (which is perhaps the most impressive building there) was covered in advertising; but at the same time, they have extreme restrictions on alterations you can make on buildings in the centre. That is, they can't update anything that needs updating, but they can construct billboards on whatever is worth preserving. Even the churches have ads plastered around them. Rooms once used by Freud and Mozart are eagerly rented out for tourists in a curiously empty experience, which is as good a metaphor as any for what has happened to Europe's cultural hegemony. Vienna isn't dying on its knees - it wishes it could die in such a dignified posture. It is dying flatly on its arse. Wien, je ne regrette Wien...
The European idea is over, terminal, tainted at source. Eurovision is a symptom of that.
Okay: Greece are winning now. About time.