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The pornographic awfulness of Eurovision


IT is interesting that the media coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest has focused almost exclusively on the courageous performance of the Israeli performer Eden Golan, who came fifth despite the outrageous anti-Semitic bullying of the pro-Palestinian protesters. I must confess that I watched some of the programme, my excuse being that my wife having gone early to bed, I wanted to stay up to try to see the Northern Lights (which I didn’t manage). I turned on the TV about halfway through the show, and the sheer awfulness of it sucked me in like some monstrous alien creature determined to consume me and spit me out a shrivelled shell at the end (OK, I have been watching Amazon’s The Day of the Triffids).

It was the worst television that I have ever seen, a view supported by many other commentators. The politicking around it paled into insignificance compared with the sheer banality of the songs. I grew up in the age when the show was about songwriting and the song, think Cliff, Lulu and Abba. Then, all the singing, backing and musical support was live, and we used to watch it with the kids and laugh at the partisan nature of the voting along with Terry Wogan’s gentle humour. True, it was rather camp, but having been brought up on programmes such as Round the Horne (‘I’m Julian, this is my friend Sandy’), British camp was generally very funny.

The current batch of ‘songs’, (and I use the word loosely) were largely identical, each with a short introductory section, followed by an explosion of sound, laser lights, flares and frantic gyrating by a supporting team of near-naked dancers. Most of the performances were overtly sexual in nature. Many were dark, with sado-masochistic and indeed Satanic overtones. The backing voices and instrumentals were all pre-recorded, and the staging, although spectacular, simply drowned out any lyrics or meaningful content. I challenge anyone to remember a single one of them.

I am no prude. As a doctor I am perfectly used to full or partial nudity. Similarly, I don’t always object to a bit of sex on TV if it supports the storyline: at least it is a normal activity rather than the graphic violence to which we are more often subjected. But the sexuality portrayed in this show went way beyond the boundaries, which brings me to the UK entry, Dizzy, by Olly Alexander.

I understand that he is a well-respected singer, but this performance was brutally pornographic. The dancers were simulating cottaging, clutching their groins and thrusting their pelvises forward in an obvious suggestive way. The lyrics were vapid and meaningless drivel. This performance was degrading and demeaning especially, I imagine, to gay people, and I fail to understand how anyone could have thought that this showcased the best in British music. Unsurprisingly it was the BBC that commissioned this disgrace using our licence fees, and the gormless individuals concerned should be fired for misuse of public money. Olly scored a few points from the official judges, but the dreaded ‘nul points’ from the public votes, which slightly restores my faith in the public taste.

I felt nothing but sadness for Nemo, the lad from Switzerland who won the competition. Dressed like a Parisian prostitute he, sorry they, spent much of the time balancing on a revolving saucer, for which the acrobatic abilities alone should have won many votes. The lyrics of the song, which I had to look up, included phrases such as ‘I broke the chains’, ‘I went to hell and back . . . I broke the code’, all of which seemed to describe a deeply disturbed youth who, rather than finding his real self, had descended even further into sexual and psychological confusion. Despite all the cheering and adulation, I felt he looked like a little lost boy.

I have been meditating recently on chapter fifteen of St Luke’s gospel which contains three well-known parables of Jesus. There is one key word, ‘lost’ which recurs five times in the chapter: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost (prodigal) son. These parables are generally relegated to Sunday School, and the children’s bible will show a picture of the Good Shepherd (Jesus) with a little lamb over his shoulders, surrounded by happy, smiling children. But the true meaning of the parables is much deeper and darker, speaking as it does of the utter lostness of humanity when separated from the creator. I think I saw this lostness in the performances on Saturday night: glitz and spectacle covering up a vast pit of emptiness and darkness in a culture which has become self-obsessed and totally morally confused, seen as much in the protesters as the performers. 

On Sunday morning I listened on the radio to Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto. In particular the quiet lyrical and thoughtful second movement breaking into the wonderful joyous Rondo Allegro of the third movement which I am still humming today. This is music which feeds the soul and enriches life. It does not need lasers and flares to enhance it: the fireworks are in the music itself. I am not a musical snob; I know that there will be excellent music of all types throughout the summer in many festivals. But how did Europe progress in 300 years from the brilliance of the Emperor Concerto to the trash dished out in Malmo?

Given the debacle of Saturday night I am not sure that the contest will last in its present form with viewing figures plummeting and costs to stage it escalating.

Enjoy your hour in the sunshine, young Nemo, for it will quickly fade and the darkness will soon follow.

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Dr Tom Goodfellow
Dr Tom Goodfellow
Tom Goodfellow is a retired NHS consultant radiologist who had a specialist interest in paediatrics and cancer diagnosis.

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