Let me be upfront – I didn’t watch the Eurovision Song Contest this year. Italy had the good sense to quit this parade of mediocrity ten years ago, and so I couldn’t even watch it. Not that I would have, mind you. Seen one, seen ’em all. Anyway, we have the Festival di Sanremo here, and that just about fills my quotum for mediocrity for a year.
Apparently, Russia has won and veteran British TV presenter Terry Wogan thinks the bloc voting of Eastern European countries has turned the contest into a political one. In fact, British newspaper The Guardian is asking the Brits whether they should quit Europe over this. And in the newspapers in Germany and France the mood is much the same. These Eastern Europeans stole our contest. German paper Die Welt even invokes the old spectre of the Kremlin – Cold War parlance for that invisible and sinister force guiding all of the Warsaw Pact towards Western Europe’s doom.
Interesting stuff, that. For years we’ve seen Scandinavian bloc voting, Benelux bloc voting, UK-Ireland bloc voting, Germanic and Francophone bloc voting, and nobody thought that that was a problem at all. But when it’s Serbs, Russians, Ukrainians and Estonians doing the bloc voting, we’re rushing to condemn it. Perhaps because we no longer stand a chance, being that there are just about a million former Soviet client states. You can bloc vote from Oslo down to Madrid and from Dublin eastward to Berlin and you would still not beat them. That’s sad, perhaps, if you think your country is helped by such fantastic moments in the history of world music as created by Bucks Fizz (UK, winner in 1981) or Sandra Kim (Belgium, winner in 1986). But why give a damn?
Because it’s them, that’s why. They are recovering from years of hardship with the help of Western European outplacement – in other words, ‘our’ jobs. Russian and Serbian mafia are doing their worst all over Europe. They fight their tribal wars and they live their backward lives. And when there’s no work for them there, they come here as parasites of our perfect welfare states.
We forget to mention the hords of Western investors swarming all over the former Warsaw Pact to get their grubby hands on anything of value, back in 1990 (Skoda, proud saboteurs of the Wehrmacht back in World War Two, is now part of the Volkswagen Audi Group). We forget to mention that the word ‘mafia’, and the typical modus operandi, is very Western European indeed. As for tribal wars – ask the Basques about that, or the good people of Northern Ireland. And what exactly is a backward life? I dare say that sitting in your flat in Poplar watching Sky all night while guzzling down can after can of cheap beer is pretty damn backward. Not to mention what kind of parasite that makes you.
The Eurovision Song Contest reveals, beneath the campy glitter and the toothpaste smiles, an ugly truth about Europe in the early 21st century: we’re not happy neighbours. We don’t really like each other, or trust each other, and we don’t want the other side to win. When it comes to West vs. East, we’re no longer good sports. Churchill’s Iron Curtain has never really been lifted. And in true keeping with the spirit of our times, it takes the most superficial of all TV shows to bring that to the surface.