Okay. I was not going to talk about this, just because there is no point. Saturday night Azerbaijan finally got something they desperately pursued for a while. The whole nation is in euphoria.
But one thing just keeps rolling over and over in my head. What is the matter with me? Why am I not more excited about this?
Saturday night, Facebook news feed was full of my Azeri friends not simply expressing their happiness at the fact Azerbaijan won the Eurovision contest, but actually weeping, stating just how overwhelmed they were, and bursting with national pride. One girl posted: ‘Thank you, thank you my darlings, the swan couple!’
Not sure what poor birds had to do with this, but that expression made me feel nauseous. And I can’t even blame the pregnancy hormone, as I am way past that stage. It really was the swans. ( The whole swan song or lebedinaya pesnya is an old-fashioned Russian expression, actually referring to the last song before one of the swans dies. I am not sure if swans can sing, but hey, that is not relevant. Neither for the swans, nor for the Eurovision contestants.)
I don’t know what surprised me more. The fact that everyone else, including all those people who left their home country years ago, suddenly felt proud to be Azeri (but not quite proud enough to go back to live there) because of one awfully trashy European pop song....Or the fact that I was, clearly, alone with my lack of national pride over something like this.
I already said all that I thought about Eurovision last year. So it seems a bit pointless to explain all over again. I am curious though, about one thing. Okay. I appreciate that not all of us can have good taste in music. But surely, most of us can tell if someone has no voice?
Let me put this in very simple terms. We are all thrilled and proud that:
b) Nothing in this performance resembles anything about the country it comes from. Even the names of the singers are altered not to sound too Azeri. So, instead of Eldar and Nigyar we were represented by El and Nikki. If it is so obvious to me, not a ‘proper Azeri’ as I am often told on this blog, how obvious should it be to all you proud nationalists out there?
c) The song is crap. But to be fair, somewhat catchier crap than the rest of them this year.
d) Nikki, the female swan...how do I say this politely? No, sorry, there is no other way to put it: Can’t sing. Not only can she not sing, she does not live in Azerbaijan and looks like she could be Eldar’s step-mother who is about to seduce him. But, somehow, she won the competition to represent the country. This, to me, has only two possible reasons. One suggests that her place was bought or arranged by someone influential she is related to. Another- that a huge chunk of the nation who voted for her can’t tell if someone has no voice or talent. You choose which one is the preferred version.
But, really, at this point, none of it matters.
Just like I was told about the Royal wedding frenzy: People need some fun. Something to be happy about. Stop being such a party pooper!
So what we have an appalling human rights record in Azerbaijan, so what about the corruption, so what about the depressing poverty... At least now we can celebrate the fact that we won the most bizarre, tasteless song contest. Some even believe that Azerbaijan’s victory was based purely on the exclusive talent and hard work of the swan couple.
Also, I suspect, to a lot of people, winning this contest means something that I just don’t think it does. For instance, that we are now officially cool. Or that we are now a part of Europe.
But, before you tell me off for my complete lack of any patriotic feelings....I have to say, it is kind of fun, anyway. There is a small- a tiny, in fact- part of me that thinks this is going to be interesting. Okay, you will never get me to feel proud to be Azeri (quoting yet another Facebook status from last night) because of Eurovision. Come on! Be proud to be Azeri, feel free, but surely, you must have other, better reasons for it.
But okay, okay. I will try. I promise. I will not laugh when people congratulate me. I won’t cringe. I won’t focus on the negatives. Instead, I will try my best to think of the good things that might come out of it. For example, with all those people who watch the contest, and the attention drawing to Azerbaijan as the possible host for 2012, would at least some things change for the best? Would there be some benefit to the people? Also, as some friends wondered, would Armenians participate? Would they be welcome to? Would Azerbaijan handle the fact that Eurovision is extremely gay, and will involve a huge gay crowd coming to Baku? Would it show its hospitality to all of the above? How will it actually work, if it does at all?
So, yes. Curiosity is probably one of the feelings I have right now. From this point of view, I am excited about this victory. Can’t wait to see what happens. And oh, yes: congratulations to all of you who are really happy and proud.