29 May 2024
Is my Eurovision broken?
Festivals Music

Is my Eurovision broken?

As the Eurovision Song Contest has given me so much joy and entertainment over the years, it makes me sad to see the mess we are in ahead of the ESC Grand Finale of 2024. The whole Eurovision season has given me so many mixed emotions, and it’s all culminating tonight.

Being a Finn living in Sweden, already last year’s Sweden – Finland drama of course gave me so many mixed feelings. Finland really should have won, but Loreen is such a special being (from out of space, I agree) that I couldn’t begrudge her the victory. And Sweden is of course the best of the best in hosting, so I was really looking forward to seeing the shows.

However in the meantime, the real world has been turning upside down, and that has spilled over to Eurovision, which the EBU insists must remain “apolitical”. The EBU would have had a great opportunity to leave Israel out of the competition when it transpired their song was too political, but instead they were allowed multiple resubmissions/rewrites. That would have been the perfect out for the EBU, and also allowed Israel a face-saving way to stay out compared with just withdrawing. But clearly the Israeli sponsor money made it more difficult for the EBU to take a decision that would have saved the competition from this disrepute and division.

Petitions and calls by artists from many countries to ban Israel from Eurovision were not heeded, and preparations went ahead. Instead of Europe being “United by Music”, this year’s Eurovision is tearing us apart. Many artists, organisations and companies cancelled their participation in the programme at The Eurovision Village, and the ultra-tight security is taking the fun out of the experience for many people. Big pro-Palestine demonstrations have also been held side by side with the Eurovision events.

The Eurovision fan groups on social media are often pretty toxic places even during regular years, but this year the conflicts have been multiplied and Israel-supporters have joined the groups en masse to spam their love of Eden as well as to spew hate or ridicule on anybody even slightly positive to the Palestinian side.

The social media outside the closed Eurovision groups is an even more vicious space. When I made the mistake of commenting about my disappointment at Käärijä doing the Cha Cha Cha with Eden backstage at Eurovision (something he apparently did not want published and asked to be taken down), it resulted in dozens of hateful comments aimed at my person until I chose to delete that comment. Same kind of reaction from the SD pack or their troll factory, when I had commented on a news article, that I did not find it so fun to have Shin Bet running around the streets of Malmö (protecting Eden).

To add to the drama, we now have the case of Joost Klein of the Netherlands being disqualified. As I have my own first-hand experience of him acting like a diva and not allowing me to photograph him (at the photo wall in the press room at the Stockholm pre-party, when I was accredited media), I am not very surprised to hear that he would have behaved inappropriately and threateningly against a female photographer working for the Eurovision production team. My thoughts on this are mostly circling around whether it was that nice young girl I know and have shared the photo-pit many times with…

But the EBU’s lacking communication on the matter has led to many rumours making the rounds and people coming up with different explanations and conspiracy theories, so many ESC fans are blaming the EBU also in this matter and calling for #joostice. It feels of course very good to know the EBU has a zero-tolerance policy for harassment and threats and want to offer their workers a safe working environment. At the same time, it would have been nice if they also had a zero-tolerance policy for the same from their member broadcasting companies, for example when KAN have shown a children’s choir singing about annihilating everyone in Gaza. (As EBU’s view is that it is not countries competing but the broadcasting companies, and the country’s massively unproportionate response in Gaza does not seem to count for anything.)

While many people have not tuned in to Eurovision as a part of the #Eurovisioff protest, I am too much of a Eurovision-buff to have been able to forego the extravaganza of national selections and the ESC itself. So I have followed both the pre-season and the actual competition in very much detail, while also making an effort to avoid the entry of that one country. I have in fact still not heard the song, which has required turning off the TV during that country’s performance in the semi-final and muting the sound during the voting recap. My little protest has of course no effect whatsoever on anything at all, I just don’t want to hear it, simple as that.

But now ahead of the Grand Finale, after Italy’s RAI “accidentally” publishing what they say were “partial” results of their televoting showing Israel getting 39% of their televote, I have a new fear as to what might happen tonight. Let’s say Putin’s trolls, the right-wing extremists, as well as the Israel lobby decide to join forces and hijack the Eurovision public voting in several countries. (And do we also have to worry about the use of eSIMs and VPNs? Am I getting paranoid and starting to sound like a conspiracy theorist?).

Are we looking at the following scenario: 1) All the aforementioned groups of people (who would not otherwise care for Eurovision at all) decide to mass-vote for Israel just to make a point; 2) pro-Palestine people boycott Eurovision and will not vote at all, so the EBU doesn’t get to profit financially; and 3) the real Eurovision fans go ahead and vote for their actual favourites, spreading the rest of the points among 25 countries…  In that case, what will be the result?

 If we have Israel as a winner at the end of the night, there may be doubts cast on the whole voting process, and more drama surrounding the EBU and tough decisions for them to make. And the Eurovision Song Contest as we know it may be broken, possibly beyond repair. What is left to do, except count on the juries to save us from that outcome? I am not the only one contemplating sending tactical votes to my 10th favourite tune of the year instead of my favourite, as Croatia is the biggest favourite in the odds and would have a better chance at beating Israel than my favourite Italy.

Not to mention all the possibilities of different artists joining in on the protests in one way or another today. As I’m writing this, Norway’s Alessandra just announced she will not be giving out Norway’s votes today, and added #freepalestine. I would be very surprised if there weren’t any other manifestations on the stage tonight, along the lines of Eric Saade’s keffiyeh, Mustii’s “Peace” written on his arm, Käärijä shouting “No War”, or Bambie Thug’s censored calls for a ceasefire in ancient writing…

My head is spinning, and the rainbow-colored Eurovision bubble is about to burst.

1 Comment

  • Nu 12 May 2024

    Great article Nina! I agree that this year it just left suuuch a negative taste in your mouth. And can you imagine for the first Eurovision ever, I was afraid for my personal safety in going to a public live viewing. Let alone, travelling to Malmö to see the show. The world shouldn’t be like this. Thanks for being brave and publishing this article!

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