Fans of cheesy pop anthems, rejoice. It’s time for another helping of the aural marmite that is the Eurovision Song Contest. Expect the usual crazy costumes and general madness, but this time the organising committee has dropped a right clanger and invited Australia to the party.
As it turns out, the Aussies are absolutely tragic for a bit of Eurovision. Despite being broadcast at 5am Sydney time, the 2014 competition was the most successful to date for Australian broadcaster SBS, drawing in a total audience of 2.7 million.
Sure, it’s “Euro”-vision, and Australia clearly isn’t in Europe. But names can be deceiving. Eligibility for the contest has nothing to do with the EU or geographical location. With countries like Israel and Azerbaijan taking part, that much should be obvious. Rather, it’s for members of the European Broadcasting Union, which includes countries as far afield as Libya, Jordan and Egypt.
Take a look at Eurovision’s founding principles and it’s clear that the competition is more than an excuse to get a bit tipsy and watch the UK publicly embarrass itself as per. Like the European Convention on Human Rights and what’s now the EU, the Eurovision Song Contest was born out the post-war sentiment for tolerance and unity; bringing countries together through song to repair the fractures left by Hitler’s savages.
Amazingly enough, it’s an ethos that’s survived. Last year’s winning entry was sung by a bearded drag queen, and Finland’s offering this time round is a punk rock band that started life in a charity workshop for mentally handicapped adults. Suddenly, the case for including Australia, a country that will bring nothing but enthusiasm, starts to make a lot more sense.
That said, it seems hypocritical to turn a blind eye to some of the countries currently taking part. Given the continued occupation of Ukraine, Russia gets nil points for its human rights record. Israel, another regular competitor, killed more than 2,300 Palestinians in last year’s conflict. While indefensible, these are government sanctioned actions. It’d be an insult to the people in these countries, not the mention a stark generalisation, to suggest they’re all complicit in their government’s decisions, however grotesque.
Refreshingly, Eurovision isn’t about politics. It’s a celebration of peoples and cultures, and quite a successful one at that. Love it or hate it, the tolerance and acceptance of Eurovision is a symbol to be proud of. If Australia wants in, who are we to complain? Just don’t ask me what happens if it wins…