Leaving aside the atmosphere of celebrations, colored flags, anti-Russian boos, infantile outbursts and the disputes concerning sexual freedoms it has stirred up, this year’s edition of the Eurovision song contest was anything but a celebration of music. With a few exceptions (Netherlands, Sweden, Russia, Slovenia), all the songs seemed to be built on the same model: piano at the beginning, then andante, forte, then (possibly) andante again and in the end the deafening fortissimo, without giving a slight attention to the melodic line, to innovation, originality. Most of the contestants’ effort to copy one another, in the obsessive view of producing something “great,” “unforgettable,” “uplifting,” has been obvious. It’s just that the result was only insignificant, embarrassing and noisy.
This contest was maybe a good opportunity to create a vision, a euro-vision even, on the level reached by the regular European’s general knowledge and aesthetic sense. I find it difficult to believe that a regular citizen, who ever listened to or heard of Gigliola Cinquetti, Udo Jurgens, ABBA, Johnny Logan, Celine Dion or Toto Cutugno, all winners of Eurovision contests back when this contest meant something for good quality music, could have voted as he did at this edition. This of course could give the organizers food for thought too, organizers that took the risk of giving up on a jury made up of experienced people in order to leave everything to the people’s choice, irrespective of their level of education.
On the other hand, it is proven that although the European Union is still looking good from a political and economic point of view, most of its citizens are living in a state of confusion and lack landmarks, something which cannot foreshadow anything good in view of the European Parliament elections for example. If a transsexual succeeds so well to deflect the audience’s attention from the main purpose of the contest, namely music, towards his social problems and the adjustment difficulties he probably faces, then we should not worry if the future winners of these elections will be the political counterparts of the victorious bearded pseudo-woman that triumphed in Denmark at the end of last week.
In the midst of international conflict with Russia, Europe has only proved, on the occasion of this contest, that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” as our good Will would have put it. It is an unhoped-for assist that Europe offers to Russia in her anti-democratic discourse. Basically we are reminded that, while from a political point of view democracy is obviously superior to Russian oligarchy, it is not the perfect form of government and at any rate it does not solve in any way the problem of the human quality of the individuals it governs. We in Europe know very well Russia’s official position, which is ceaselessly transmitted to us on all channels, but we know only vaguely the quality and the problems of the common people living in that country. It is maybe useful to recall here one of the most sensational overlooked pieces of news that came out of Russia lately. In February the BBC recounted how in a provincial Russian town called Irbit two citizens were discussing literature in a garden. One of them claimed that poetry is the supreme form of literature, the other on the contrary, that prose is. The dispute grew so long and intense that the poetry lover simply stood up, took out a knife and stabbed his companion. Four months earlier, on Rostov-on-Don, a dispute about Immanuel Kant resulted in gunfire. Of course, that doesn’t mean that here in Europe we should kill each other over philosophical or musical disputes, but it is obvious we could learn something from these incidents. The European citizen has a dangerous sense of superiority not solely over Russia but also over classical culture in general. We hasten to wave colored flags and to express in the noisiest manner possible our tolerance for sexual minorities but we often forget to also bear in mind the “outdated” Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky. The results of this combination do not encourage optimism at all.