Britain: Boors at the Eurovision Party

After watching the annual song contest, beamed to us this year from Helsinki, I cannot help but think that we British are very different from the rest of our European neighbours. There must be something in the water. I thought the commentary of our own national treasure, the Irishman Terry Wogan, epitomised these differences — although perhaps not in the way he might expect.

Year after year, he and we mock Eurovision with glee, pointing out how seriously everyone takes the contest, while we participate with our tongues in our cheek. This year, however, that same attitude boomeranged back to slap us in the face. For example, when the song that was destined to win was performed by the Serbian delegation, those of us watching the broadcast with the translations could see that the song was a personal account of someone coming to terms with a lost, forbidden love. But the only words Terry could find were to mock the “owl like” lead singer, noticing the contrast between her rather androgynous appearance and the Amazonian femininity of her backing singers. She was baring her soul for the continent, and all Terry could do was chuckle.

The Serbian singer had the last laugh, however, when the rest of Europe voted in her favour, dumping the British effort into a “nosedive”. This was not a surprise – our song about low cost air travel was never going to be popular. What was noteworthy, however, was that the UK was one of the few countries that did not give the Serbian owl-woman any points. Instead, we gave ‘douze points’ to the terrible Turkish offering, which matched the British entry for vacuity, but with the added eye-candy of belly-dancers.

Indeed, we had already been told that the belly dancers were British, so in fact, my fellow countrymen had voted as jingoistic as possible, given the rules. A familiar and hilarious theme for Sir Terry is the bizarre block voting which has always characterised the competition. We find that the neighbours in the Scandinavian cul-de-sac all voted for each other; the handful of countries that made up the former Yugoslavia gave each other maximum points; and Russia exchanged top marks with her former Soviet states. This is particularly alien to the British mindset. While our own neighbours Ireland and France were kind to us in their point allocations, we did not reciprocate. Do we imagine that an independent Scotland or Wales will vote for England, or vice-versa, if the UK were to break up? No we do not, not even out of pity.

I am often criticised on this site for my apparent insistence on the relativistic, without any anchor of objectivity to judge and compare different peoples and cultures. Well, let me satisfy those critics by throwing all that relativistic nonsense out the window for a moment. Let me say that the British have this weekend shown themselves to be nothing less than a drone of boors. I mean that quite sincerely and objectively, since there is no room for irony when we talk about Eurovision. We are like the idiot at the party who initially misses the joke, yet bores everyone by repeating the same punch-line when everyone else has moved on to being serious for a moment. We are the misers who show no camaraderie or neighbourly love, who bring nothing to the party but noxious fumes and bullying laughter. We are the social inepts of Europe.

Except for me of course, because I voted for Serbia.

Serbia win

Roschekno at Smokewriting has similar feelings: “The subsequent massive failure of the song may have had something to do with said eurotypes having got used a long time ago to the increasingly smug unfunniness of official British ‘humour’.”

9 thoughts on “Britain: Boors at the Eurovision Party

  1. Hello Robert, I’d like to point out that my family and I were also watching the show and, because we don’t have interactive television, were unable to understand what the Serbian entry was singing about. Infact, we hated the song because the tune itself is very dreary. I was very proud to be British as I felt that the public had voted sensibly and given the most entertaining songs high points. Maybe the BBC should provide translations because it seems the rest of Britain missed the point of the Serbian entry too. I don’t think you should be so down on the UK as our entry is exactly what the contest is all about- cheese. We didn’t get any votes as we have no friendly neighbours. Somehow the contest should be made anonymous as block voting has made it a complete farce.

  2. It all depends on your conception of entertaining. What I am saying is that the rest of Britain seems to have – objectively speaking – terrible taste. It takes humiliating defeats like that on Saturday to make the British public realise this…

    I don’t see how we can avoid block voting. How different is it from audiences voting to keep in less talented singers in, say, “Grease Is The Word”? What is interesting is that such block voting exists at all. It is an alien concept to the British, who (as your comment shows) have antagonistic attitudes to the rest of the continent. Why are we so friendless?

  3. I has a debate with my partner about how these (former eastern bloc) countries could lay claim to being European anyway – politically, geographically, economically, what exactly is the criteria ?
    When I think of europe I do not think of Serbia, Hungary or Bulgaria

    Though the winning song was awful and sung by a woman too ugly to be allowed on international television. The music isn’t to be taken seriously (when was the last time a Euro winner had a music career, Cliff Richard ? Abba ?) so its all down to visuals, in which case you may as well have dolly birds in short skirts and bubblegum pop.
    For me the UK song was the essence of eurovision, a cheesy, camp costume disco number which will no doubt be the soundtrack to many a drunken shag on the last night of a club 18-30 holiday in Greece, and you can’t get much more european than that.

  4. I has a debate with my partner about how these (former eastern bloc) countries could lay claim to being European anyway – politically, geographically, economically, what exactly is the criteria ? When I think of europe I do not think of Serbia, Hungary or Bulgaria.

    What about Israel!? How come they are in the Eurovision, but Lebanon is not?

    Interestingly, the post office also consider Israel to be in Europe for insurance purposes. I don’t know about delivery.

    So a grey area, yes. I disagree about Hungary, Serbia and Bulgaria though. They seem very European to me, especially compared to Azerbjan and places like that. Armenia though?

  5. “What about Israel!? How come they are in the Eurovision, but Lebanon is not?”

    Good question, they also have a footy team in the Euro 2008 qualifiers. I think it’s because none of their neighbours will play with them…….

  6. I tend to agree, but it is used constantly in the opposite direction by people who should know better, and I was making the point.

    No offence to you intended.

    Matt

  7. None taken. Previous commenters have labelled me as precisely the type to know better. Although I still maintain that if segregation based on ethnicity is enshrined in law, as it undisputably is in Israel, then such a country risks having such words flung in its direction. We’re way off topic now though…

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