SUMMARY: The wave of negative comments over the past couple of days regarding Australia’s performance at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest really got me thinking about how our opinion-obsessed culture can detract from accepting and embracing diversity. Since the Eurovision Song Contest is all about celebrating diversity, I decided to write a blog post about what I was thinking. You might like it, you might not like it – either way, that’s okay! Opinions are just that; opinions. Each to their own! Thanks for reading, and have a great day!
Eurovision and the Acceptance of Differences
Following the Grand Final of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, there has been a significant amount of negative and almost gleeful coverage in the Australian media: about the performance of our entry, ‘We Got Love’ performed by Jessica Mauboy (20th place); about the quality of the competition’s entries; about why Australia is participating in a “European” song contest; and even about the worthiness of the event itself. I would like to offer a rebuttal.
Let me be completely transparent before I continue – I am a Eurovision fan. Actually, ‘fan’ might be too simple of a word to describe the undying devotion I have cultivated for this annual song contest over the past 15 years. Nonetheless, I am determined to put my point of view forward in a respectful and mostly objective manner.
The negative chatter throughout the mainstream press, as well as on social media, about Eurovision misses the point entirely – Eurovision is like any major event, in that some people will like it and some people will not. Not everybody enjoys watching sport on television, however far fewer column inches are devoted to the opinions of those who might be anti-football or anti-cricket or anti-Olympics than have been given to the anti-Eurovision brigade this week. I’m not a sports fan, but rather than forcing my opinions onto others, I choose to simply not watch – I know, it’s an amazing concept to think that we could possibly choose not to watch something without commenting on it in this day and age, when it seems that everyone feels the need to express their opinion… and woe betide anyone who might disagree with them.
Recognising that we each have our own unique tastes and opinions is a key part of diversity, and if there is one thing that the Eurovision Song Contest does it is to embrace and celebrate diversity. Sure, it’s not for everyone – but it’s not meant to be! And perhaps the ‘Euro’ bit in ‘Eurovision’ might make it a bit of a stretch to justify Australia’s participation, but who really cares? Other countries participate who aren’t in Europe – Azerbaijan, Armenia, Israel, for example – yet are welcomed and embraced by the enormous community of Eurovision-lovers around the world.
In Australia we have a long history of fanatical devotion to this delightfully kitsch competition (which can often unearth some auditory delights, depending on your individual taste) and our participation makes a lot of people very happy, so if you don’t feel that we should be involved – that’s your opinion and you’re absolutely entitled to it, just don’t watch! And by extension of choosing not to watch, there’s really no need to then expend a massive amount of energy attacking those of us who do choose to watch and enjoy Eurovision each year.
It is entirely possible that some of the savage responses to Australia’s participation in Eurovision were influenced, directly or indirectly, by our placing at 20th in this year’s Grand Final. Given that we have previously placed at 5th (2015), 2nd (2016), and 9th (2017), some might feel a dent to their national pride at our result this year. However, to attack our hardworking representative, Jessica Mauboy, is totally unfair. Jessica did a fantastic job – bear in mind that Jessica was one of 10 acts out of 18 who participated in the second Semi-Final to progress on to the Grand Final, which in itself is a great achievement. We don’t have to win all the time – sure, it would have been nice, but it is what it is.
You might not like the song or style of music we entered, or indeed any of the songs in the competition, and that’s okay. Not everybody has to like everything. However, some people (myself included) thought that it was great and so, once again, it comes down to respecting that we each have individual tastes. Is it really constructive, or necessary, to attack someone with such vitriol because you don’t like what they have created? If it doesn’t harm anyone, and if it makes some people happy, then what’s the issue?
My feeling is that the negative commentary surrounding both Australia’s participation in and our result at the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest is unfortunately representative of broader trends in society, where opinions are sometimes represented in the media as fact and where many feel that they simply must share their viewpoint on every single subject, especially when they disagree with something. I fully realise the irony of that statement, given that I’m writing what is essentially an opinion piece about opinions. Here’s the difference though: I am not attempting to convince anyone that they should think the way that I do. I am simply saying that in a world full of diverse thoughts, opinions and lifestyles, we each have a choice to make about how we interact with one another.
If something is not for you, and it is not doing you any harm, then what is the purpose of attacking it? In the words of Australia’s 2018 Eurovision representative, Jessica Mauboy, “Don’t you think it’s just a waste of time? When we’re always fighting over material, trivial things in this life…”
If you don’t like Eurovision, then don’t watch it! Just don’t attack those people who do and who gain an enormous amount of enjoyment from it; remember the saying, “Each to their own.” Our world would be a much kinder place if we made more of an effort to accept one another’s differences.
Stay well! Jeremy 😃
Jeremy Godwin is a writer, speaker and coach from New South Wales who specialises in mental health, personal development and sociology. He can be found on Instagram/Facebook/Twitter @itsjeremygodwin talking about his incurable addiction to Eurovision and sharing his opinions about sharing opinions.
PS: If you’ve read this far – thanks for reading my post! If you’ve been following my blog for a while you’d know that I’ve taken an extended break from blogging, so I just wanted to say thanks for sticking with me. I’m not going to say that I’ll be getting back onto a regular posting schedule because I’ve decided to just write when the mood strikes me. Hopefully you’ll enjoy what I write if/when I write it. All my other writing projects (including the next book plus the ‘Let’s Talk About Mental Health’ podcast/website I was building) are currently on hold as I’ve decided, for now at least, to return to writing for the pure joy of it rather than for any other reason. Thanks for your understanding and support!