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Middle Fingers, Instagram, and Brexit: Eurovision Steers Away From Britain – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

Middle Fingers, Instagram, and Brexit: Eurovision Steers Away From Britain



The 2021 Eurovision Song Contest was a unique blend of future and past challenges. The event took place in Rotterdam, Netherlands and proved to be a historic moment. Despite the ongoing pandemic, the organizers, builders, creatives, and attendees put on a spectacular show that defied all odds and left a lasting impression.

Unfortunately, the United Kingdom did not fare well in the contest and was left at the bottom of the scoreboard with a score of zero. This was a bitter pill to swallow, as the country’s participation in the event has always been enthusiastic. However, the UK’s detachment from the event has become increasingly apparent over the years, and this year’s performance was no exception.

The reason for the UK’s poor showing could be attributed to a combination of Brexit, vaccines, and irritation at British smugness over its unilateralism. Whatever the reason, it is clear that the British contribution was not well-received by the national juries who resoundingly rejected it even from their lowest scores.

In contrast, Italy’s entry, a ballsy, angry, dystopian song that reflected the COVID zeitgeist, was well-received by the public, catapulting the heavy metal rap group, Måneskin, to victory.

So, what should the United Kingdom do next? The natural reaction is to retaliate, but that would not solve the problem. Instead, re-purposing a nationwide competition such as The X Factor or The Voice UK could work. Inviting aspiring singers to compete to represent their country at Eurovision would be an excellent way to support the country’s nascent musical industry and promote unity.

Instagram influencers and followers, as well as the general public across the Internet, could then vote for an artist who had fought their way through the Darwinian process of natural selection that is a talent competition show, rather than relying on the political voting of their national juries.

In conclusion, the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest was a memorable event that showcased the resilience and creativity of its participants. While the UK’s performance was disappointing, it is essential to learn from the experience and move forward with a new strategy that will bring success in the future.

The 2021 Eurovision Song Contest had one foot in the future, and the other aimed at foes and challenges of yesteryear.

The 2021 Eurovision Song Contest hosted by the Dutch city of Rotterdam this past weekend will be remembered as consequential. In an environment that still eludes post-pandemic status, the event organizers, set builders, creatives, and attendees put on a show of defiant spectacle and raised a giant middle finger to the virus, which they also extended to the United Kingdom.

Rattling at the very bottom of the scoreboard with a miserable “0” next to its name, Britain was left shivering with Dickensian exclusion, staring into the window of warmth and ribaldry of what was undoubtedly the biggest party of the last fourteen months.

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No amount of cynicism for the kitschy naff-ness of Eurovision could lift the veil of incredulity at the score and, to be frank, the sadness that settled on those watching from British shores.

Because, this year, it felt personal. Like finding oneself at an awesome jamboree with COVID symptoms, it was clear that many Europeans dislike Brexit Britain even more than Russia (204 points) and Israel (93 points), past poisonings and recent missile attacks notwithstanding.

Rattling at the very bottom of the scoreboard with a miserable “0” next to its name, Britain was left shivering with Dickensian exclusion, staring into the window of warmth and ribaldry.

This was expulsion, like Adam and Eve from the garden of collective solidarity, having survived the pandemic devil. And it hurt.

The UK’s cheesy enthusiasm for the show in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s has grown into perceptible detachment from the event. As a leading creative talent with a legacy of some of the best bands in the history of modern music and a spin-off industry worth billions, it has always been difficult for the Brits to join the Butlin’s parade of mostly sub-optimal acts that is the Eurovision Song Contest.

And as a result, the UK over the last few years has peddled total unknowns or has-beens with terrible songs, including this year, in spite of James Newman’s best efforts to deliver a catchy tune. Even Ireland and Australia passed on allocating a single vote.

But, given the usual number of shockers in this year’s Eurovision line-up, it was hard not to conclude that a combination of Brexit, vaccines, and irritation at British smugness over its unilateralism stripped any goodwill from the national juries who practiced some EU unilateralism of their own and resoundingly rejected the British contribution even from their lowest scores.

What to do next in light of the monumental sleight is hard. The natural reaction is to lift the middle finger back, or paint it red like the Finnish entrants, Blind Channel, in protest at having the gesture banned from their act by the event organizers.

The UK has been in this quandary for a while now; it has never really been at one with the yearning for European unity and need to support nascent musical industries. And European attitudes have turned sour.

But something else has happened in 2021. The contest joined the era of Instagram.

After the official national juries cast their often politically motivated votes – symbolized by mutual twelve-point love-fests between Greece and Cyprus or Azerbaijan and Russia – the public joined in and completely altered the result.

Italy’s entry – a ballsy, angry, dystopian nonsense of COVID zeitgeist by heavy metal rap group, Måneskin – was languishing in third place after the jury votes.

But, unbeknownst to traditional punters, the song had been previously streamed 30 million times across European social media. And as a result, its performance was greeted with instant public recognition.

When the popular votes came in, the Italian group was catapulted to victory.

It was hard not to conclude that a combination of Brexit, vaccines, and irritation at British smugness over its unilateralism stripped any goodwill from the national juries who practiced some EU unilateralism of their own and resoundingly rejected the British contribution even from their lowest scores.

In contrast, a nervous British songwriter and his formulaic song struggled to leave any imprint on the Eurovision audience. The UK entry received zero in the popular vote also.

So, what should the United Kingdom do? As one of Eurovision’s main funders, its songs gain automatic entry. But with repeated lackluster attempts, the UK’s participation feels increasingly marginal.

Daring mega-successful British bands to throw their hat in the ring is unrealistic. For starters, how would the likes of Coldplay or Elbow hob-knob with wannabes in regular hotel rooms, organized sightseeing, and backstage camaraderie? And what if, God forbid, they didn’t win? Just ask Flo Rida rapping for San Marino this year.

However, re-purposing a nationwide competition such as The X Factor or The Voice UK could work. Incentivizing the British public and, by way of YouTube and Instagram, the broader world to vote every week for singers rising through the ranks of the unknown would allow performers to occupy a place in the hearts of those watching and listening.

Offering the winner not just a record deal but also a song of their own making/choosing to represent their country at Eurovision would put an end to the days of waiting to hear an unknown’s unfamiliar tune frantically trying to capture Europe’s attention and loyalty in three minutes flat. It would also add to the quality of songwriting.

Instagram influencers and followers, as well as the general public across the Internet, could then stick their own metaphorical finger to the political voting of their national juries and plump for an artist who had fought their way through the Darwinian process of natural selection that is a talent competition show.

Middle Fingers Instagram and Brexit Eurovision Steers Away From Britain

Moonlight (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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