In a time of austerity, countries that have ditched the Eurovision think that the once a year “infomercial of poor taste pop” has turned into a “political and cultural irrelevance,” Srdja Trifkovic, foreign affairs editor of Chronicles Magazine, told RT.
RT: Your country, Serbia, is one of the
countries turning down Eurovision participation this year, why is
Srdja Trifkovic: Because the Eurovision Song Contest has become a political as well as a cultural irrelevance. Back in the 1990s, it suddenly became much more important in central and eastern Europe than it used to be, because many newly independent countries of the former Yugoslavia and the former USSR wanted to put their name on the panel so to speak and it was the period where Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan and others jumped on the bandwagon.
But for many, many years in musical terms, in artistic terms it has been a rather worthless contest and nowadays both politically and culturally its significance has declined. So in a period of austerity, in a period when modest resources have to be matched against almost unlimited requirements, I believe that this decision was made by so many countries because they have concluded that the Eurovision Song Contest simply doesn’t matter.
RT: But some say that wining and subsequently hosting Eurovision can provide a boost for the country’s image as well as its tourism. Isn’t it worth the sacrifice to at least invest in some of these two factors to carry on and be part of Eurovision?
ST: Well, I believe the experts who know more about this than I do, have tried to correlate the benefits versus the cost and have come to the conclusion that to have once a year an infomercial connected with poor taste popular pop or simple weirdness.
RT: What about the countries who do take part in this competition, do you think the crisis or the austerity and bailouts could affect the way people vote? It’s been said sometimes that people vote differently because of the political side of things?
ST: Well, we’ve seen political voting all along. For instance, Cyprus and Greece awarded each other 12 points, while giving zero to Turkey. The Scandinavians in particular are notorious. The Swedes and Norwegians giving Denmark 12 and visa-versa, and also Finland and Estonia help each other...
So there is no real correlation between voting patterns and the quality of the entries themselves. And as I have already said that quality can be pretty dismal most of the time. And even that one global hit that emerged from the Eurovision Song Contest, Abba’s Waterloo, from 1974, is just a typical example of cheesy tra-la-la europop.