Let (only) the music win?

While the kids were preparing for and having fun at Junior, the senior Eurovision world had a drama blip: Germany selects artist, public complains, Germany retracts artist.

NDR announced on November 19 that Xavier Naidoo was internally selected to represent Germany. From a musical standpoint only, NDR didn’t have a major problem: Xavier Naidoo’s been on the music scene for nearly 20 years, and all his albums have charted gold or platinum. I might have complained that the songs were kind of dentist-friendly rather than stadium friendly, but I’ve only listened to “Alles kann besser werden” (Thanks, HS German teacher for spamming it for a month in class), “Schau’ nicht mehr zurück”, and his band Söhne Mannheims’ “Und wenn ein Lied.” The broadcasting station’s also done internal selections in the past, like in 2009.

Photo credit eurovision.de

Unfortunately, there was a lot more to the story. Not only was the German public upset about their tax dollars going towards an internal selection where they had no say in who would represent their country (sounds like “taxation without representation”); they were also upset about Xavier Naidoo’s political views, as he was accused of racism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia: English Wikipedia claims that he “is a 9/11 truther, blames the Rothschild family, and is part of the Reichbürgerbewegung,”, while a song that he released in 2012 could have been interpreted as equating homosexuality with child abuse and satanic rituals. As a result, NDR’s announcement led to a major uproar on Twitter, to the point which his name was trending as a hashtag in Germany, and an online petition was written to get him off the Eurovision stage. 2 days later, NDR withdrew their decision and announced that someone else was going to represent the country.

I wonder what would happen if Marcel Bezençon were still alive to see the contest he created in 1956 after 60 years. Even though the most of the participating countries aren’t at war with each other, the “no politics” rule has been broken countless times with countries raising the middle finger at other countries under smoke machine and glitter rain. With Dana International’s victory in 1998, LGBT+ issues have become the biggest constant political issue in the contest. Sometimes the audience or jury will vote against a country (e.g. Russia) simply because it would make a poor host and damage the contest’s LGBT+ safe space bubble, and not because of the song or performance. Instead they’ll look for the country whose host city will drape itself in rainbows, loosen up marriage license regulations for the month of the contest, and change the traffic signals to images of same-gender couples.

malmoe goes gay

Probably why a lot of fans love going to Sweden for ESC: Because they care about both the songs and the audience members. Screenshot from Eurovision.tv

Vienna’s new traffic signals made for Eurovision. Photo credit: independent.co.uk

Even though it is important to maintain the safe space, it’s gotten to the point that the song and performance aren’t always the top priorities in choosing an entry. Now with all the press’s dirt-digging going around, the delegation has to make sure that the artist will be accepted by the community, that they haven’t said or done anything offensive and not apologized enough, that the audience isn’t going to boo them at every single press event.

They also can’t be offended if the camera’s view is obstructed by multiple rainbow flags

Maybe NDR was trying to make a point to direct the contest back to Marcel Bezençon’s idealized contest. In the end, it doesn’t matter if the countries don’t always get along as long as the song and stage act appeal to the audience. If Russia could get points from including 19 Western European countries in 2015 despite the Russian government’s recent actions, and Armenia could give its political enemy Azerbaijan even one point in 2009, then the politics shouldn’t and doesn’t have to be such a major focus in the contest. If Xavier Naidoo was representing Germany for Eurovision 2016, it would have been a controversial choice, but eventually the focus would be the song and performance. And if I had the chance to vote at Eurovision, I wouldn’t vote for him. It wouldn’t be because of his beliefs and past actions, but because I don’t like his songs.

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