If I had been in Copenhagen on Tuesday night, I would have joined in and done something which has provoked an uncomfortable discussion amongst us fans…I would have booed Russia’s qualification to the final.
I would have felt bad. I, like the many fans posting on Twitter, Facebook and other sites, understand that the Tomlachevy Twins have done nothing wrong. The sisters did not influence Russia’s anti-LGBT laws, nor did they have a say in recent aggression against Ukraine. They are pop stars, not politicians.
Booing goes against what Eurovision stands for. The contest was set up to foster peace between states after two horrible world wars, and to allow them to wage war through song rather than weapons. Cordially applauding at the end of any performance is expected because it is right.
So why all the booing? The negativity stems from at least two factors. First, a sizeable proportion of fans and attendees are not “heteronormative”. Those who are are usually quite liberal. Their values just don’t sit well with the politics which are being thrown about in Russia. Second, it’s only normal that we might find it alarming that this generally mediocre song from this country has qualified – especially after last year’s voting scandal.
At Eurovision the singer becomes a symbol of the nation. When booing the Tolmachevy Sisters, people were not jeering the song, which didn’t really carry any aggressive message. Nor were they booing the broadcaster, the team, or the delegation who were not really deserving of insult. The booing reflects months of pent-up frustrations directed towards Russia—a state so big, so powerful and so influential that it stokes passions when it misbehaves.
Booing is not courteous. It’s horrible. Nasty. It’s bitchy. It’s not a good approach. But in the current climate it would feel natural for me to boo. I’m sorry that it has come to this. But we cannot ignore that the Eurovision Song Contest is one of Europe’s biggest platforms to bring a message to the world—and, in this case, to Russia.
James Puchowski is the Scotland correspondent for WiwiBloggs.Com. You can follow him on Twitter @puchowskijk. You can also keep up-to-date with the latest Eurovision news and gossip by following the team on Twitter @wiwibloggs and by liking our Facebook page.
Photo: Thomas Hanses (EBU)