Last fall haters in Belarus and Russia were up in arms over Conchita Wurst. A small but vocal minority wrote to their government asking them to edit Miss Wurst out of the broadcast. Now, in the aftermath of Conchita’s victory, politicians in those nations are jumping in on the hate—and advocating that their governments set up a “straight” Eurovision.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, founder and leader of Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party and a former deputy speaker of the Duma, described Conchita’s win as “the end of Europe.”
“There is no limit to our outrage,” he said. “It has turned wild. There are no more men or women in Europe, just it.”
He’s not alone with his disgust.
According to Austrian newspaper The Local, Communist Party deputy Valery Rashkin wants Russia out.
“The last Eurovision contest’s results exhausted our patience,” he is reported as saying. “We must leave this competition. We cannot tolerate this endless madness.”
He’s now calling for a new festival called “Voice of Eurasia”, which would recruit nations from the former USSR.
Apparently there’s interest in Belarus. The Minsk-based Slavic Committee has released a statement saying that Conchita represents “the complete collapse of the European Union’s moral values.”
Side note: We conducted a poll last fall, and Russia and Belarus are the two country’s our readers would most like to kick out of Eurovision.
We’re amused that these leaders are blowing so much hot air. Their statements assume that campery only comes from the West. (Have they seen Ukraine’s Verka Serduchka?). And let’s not forget our favourite faux lesbians t.A.T.u. Getting rid of eccentricity and flair would be akin to staging Carnival without the feathers, or a beauty pageant without the sequins. Not gonna happen.
But if it does, would anyone actually watch? Part of the thrill of Eurovision—and the reason it draws such high ratings—is because of the culture clash that these leaders are railing against. Take away the conflict—and all the Western nations—and you’re left with a more homogenous, dare we say bland, event. Surely watching Russia battle Kazahkstan and Azerbaijan isn’t nearly as interesting as watching Russia sing-it-out with Sweden, Italy, and all the rest.
Furthermore, leaders know that Eurovision is a platform to put their own culture and values out there. Having a message is worthless without an international audience to receive it. You don’t walk away from a massive platform like Eurovision just because you’re angered by one result. It’d be like Russia stepping away from the Olympic Games because their hockey team failed to win gold in Sochi. You just don’t do it.
What do you think? Would Russia and Belarus actually leave Eurovision for a more regional event? Don’t the New Wave contest and domestic versions of The Voice and Idol already have this market covered? And wouldn’t it be difficult to have a “straight” singing contest? You can water down the flame, but the flame present in so many singers will still burn bright….
Willy Lee Adams contributed this report from London. Follow him on Twitter@willyleeadams. You can also keep up with the latest Eurovision news and gossip by following wiwibloggs.com on Twitter and Facebook.
Photo: Eurovision.tv (EBU)