„It’s and make the relationship and cooperation between

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„It’s and make the relationship and cooperation between

„It’s supposed to be bad. And the worse it is, the more fun it is”  – Terry Wogan, 1997

        In May this year, as every
year, millions will be sitting in front of the television to see the Eurovision
Song Contest – to keep Europe together. Is this so true? The original goal of
Eurovision is to restore peace after the Second World War and make the
relationship and cooperation between European countries more intense, all
through the media. As the song contest boasts more than 200 million viewers
over the past 60 years, we are talking about one of the world’s biggest music
events. (Eurovision.tv, 2018) When talking about such a significant event as
the song contest, its effects are undeniably powerful and influential.  In this essay, I examine the original aims of
it and present the current opinion of the ESC’s political, historical and
social effects.

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          The first song contest was
held in May 1956 in Switzerland, Lugano. 7 countries joined the live ensemble
and conductor event. France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy,
Belgium and Switzerland. In the first year, Switzerland won the song contest in
very peaceful conditions. More and more countries joined the program every
year. In the 1960s, Scandinavian countries, in the 1970s, the Mediterranean
countries (Spain, Portugal) and Turkey and Israel joined the song contest of
Europe. From the 1990s the countries of the former Soviet Union joined the
competition. Obviously, in the case of so many different political cultures,
the differences are overshadowed in some way. To this end, the Europen
Broadcasting Union blacklist has been containing all songs with political
content and the Eurovision should have been placed outside the policy scene.
Yet, how did the Eurovision’s political content become? This is mostly due to
block voting, which was most evident after the 1990s, as the jury often voted
for countries rather than songs.(Coleman, 2008) In the years of 2010, due to
the increasing tensions in Eastern Europe, more and more clandestine political
content has been added to the Eurovision contest. One of the most obvious is
Jamala who won the trophy in 2016 with her song ‘1944’.

In the song, although there should be no political content, it is clear
that she refers to the Russian-Ukrainian conflicts. The European Broadcasting
Union, however, allowed the song to compete and the contestant herself denied
the underlying political content as well. The song won. Of course, this is due
to the excellent lighting technology and sound training, but it is also due to
the relationship between the singer and the audience. Calling for help and
calling for solidarity through a song with no political content – Jamala’s song
represented the cornerstones of the modern day Eurovision.(Jackson, 2017)

 

 

 

        From a historical point of
view, Eurovision shows the changes in Europe. Although it is not a question
because many times its historical influence has been determined by the
political processes surrounded by the Eurovision. This is perfectly
demonstrated by the collapse of the eastern block (Sovjet Union), as in 1990
countries competed with songs such as “No More Walls” or “Free
to Live”. (Phillips, 2015) These titles are already telling what the song
contest is about to convey. Unity, co-operation, a nonpolitical contribution to
Europe. In 2017, however, the dice turned. “Celibate Diversity”.

 

 

         When we mention the ESC
today it is by no means the thought that the decades-long song contest is now
known for its diversity, as it is an important event for the European LGBT
community. When did the song contest become so open and “gay”?  Here we arrive at one of the milestones of the
Eurovision. In 1998, the Israeli Dana International won the competition with
her song ‘DIVA’. For a better understanding of the topic, it is worth to look
at this victory more closely, as this was not just one of the many, which had a
great impact on all three (social, political, historical) parts of the
Eurovision. It is good to know that Dana International’s victory is important
not only because of its subsequent effects, but also because it is more than a
milestone. Between the victory of ABBA in 1974 and the triumphant performer,
Eurovision was a kind of cultural crisis. This is always a good thing for a
person like Dana who not only can bring life and success, but also views for
the song contest.

Dana International has won the ESC as a transgender woman. True, the
recording artist had already gained considerable success in Israel, followed by
serious religious and political resistance, but the ever-growing gay
communities of Tel Aviv encircled the star. Obviously, the success of such an
attention person will not remain between the country’s walls. Her first album
was a great hit in the surrounding, politically closed countries as well,
despite the fact that the album was banned even in Egypt and Jordan (though there
were performers with great Jewish traditions-see: Ofra Haza). (Peele, 2011)
With this background, Dana International arrived in the United Kingdom in 1998,
where she won the song contest. DIVA is a song that broadcasts femininity, how
to stand up for yourself, the real person who you are, not being afraid to go
on with your heart. Afrodite, Kleopatra, and Queen Victoria, all of whom
symbolize strong women who owned their gender as Dana was owning hers. Europe
found her credible, they voted for her and she won. Probably a lot of
transsexual people first saw a person seen as a role model on the international
stage and it gave them hope that they could rise and succeed as well.
(Phillips, 2015) In any case, Dana International has been enjoying great
success to this day and her impact on Eurovision is unquestionable for Israel
as well as for Europe.  

 

         The Eurovision Song Contest
is often criticized. From a musical point of view, critics claim that songs are
often repetitive, not original, and mass-produced. Not only they do not help to
get to know the culture of the country, but they can also ruin its reputation.
(Coleman, 2008) How true is this? How does the Eurovision work and how it can
influence people’s opinions about a particular country, for example? Of course,
the embarrassment must not be sought in a particular country, but rather by the
fact that the representation of a nation has been condensed into a ridiculous,
and often frustrating 3 minutes.

 Representation of nations over the
last 200 years has become very important, this particular shows in the 19-20
centuries’ political and cultural movements. The positioning of countries on a
cultural map, the origin and roots of nations and the resulting identity sense
has been really important over the last 200 years. When such a show is given a
chance for a country to be represented, then every country wants to show itself
in the best possible way. Interestingly, while Eurovision Song Contest wants to
show the image of a transcendental Europe, it often reinforces the national
caricatures. The excessive internationalism of competition draws attention to
the fact that Europe is economically different, while cultural fragmentation
implies ambition. Their consequence is a paradoxical effect between transculturalism
and national sentiments. (Coleman, 2008) 
Therefore, it is understandable that people are not sure what exactly
they see or hear in live shows.  How do
they know what this is when many of the musicians or composers themselves are
not even aware of what it is. They should, once again, show the specificities
of their country and, at the same time, address a transnational audience to win
their votes. Often, these will be why Eurovision songs are clichés. According
to Coleman: ”  They dress for the village
show, but perform as if they are in an unnamed global stadium.” (2008)  To summarize, it is worth to look at a
certain irony because of the often unclear appearance of the Eurovision Song
Contest.

 

 

     Social
reality never captures but changes and develops – or decreases. In addition,
the success of the Eurovision Song Contest is remarkable, as we celebrated its
60th anniversary in 2015. In addition to the current Brexit, the question
remains: What constitutes Europe? This question is equally relevant today just
as it is after World War II.

The global financial crisis, the political situation at all times, does not
have a good impact on the song competition, but it is certain. The financial
crisis has pointed out that Europe is not economically unified or culturally,
but it contradicts them that an event like Eurovision takes place year-by-year
and more and more countries are participating. What is the conclusion?
Countries also have the will to peaceful coexistence, or at least to
cooperate.(Jackson, 2017) One interesting point in this cooperation is the
authorization of Australia to participate. The country took part for the first
time in 2015 when Guy Sebastian finished at the fifth place. The participation
of the mentioned country, that missed the semi-finals, was a big echo, but the
audience of Europe liked the song and in this May it is going to be the 4th
time opportunity for Australia in the ESC. Eurovision shows both social and
political tensions, it is very important to recognize that this is a matter
that has not changed substantially. We can talk about one of the success
stories of television history since over a 60-year-long one can spend 10
million on television for a night.  

 

      In an ever-changing Europe, the
analysis of Eurovision Song Contest is just one way to understand
societal-political conflicts between the continent and the contest. However,
what is the biggest advantage of Eurovision? It can be criticized, it can be
judged, but as mentioned above, Eurovision is one of the few that allowed the
audience to participate in a common European engagement. (Jackson, 2017)  And why is the Eurovision good for us,
everyday people? A television experience that brings us together and what is
important is all through the music – one of the things in the world which can
easily bring people together. As long as the remaining political and cultural
differences are tolerated and, believe that, if it has been so for more than 60
years then there will be no other way. So, if these conditions are met, why can
not we sing for another 60 years – or more?  
        

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