(UN)FAIR DINKUM MATE? My reaction to Australia’s Eurovision debut
FYI: Prepare yourselves for a nonsensical stream of consciousness. I’m a bit pressed for time at the moment, but as an Australian Eurovision fan of the most neurotic variety, I can’t let this news pass by without letting everything that’s taking up my brain-space out on the loose.
On a day when you wake up and discover a shoebox in your fridge (I’m not even kidding, but that’s a story for another time) you start to believe that anything is possible.
That’s why, after hearing the news of Australia’s imminent participation in Eurovision 2015 just before I hauled my butt off to bed last night, thinking it HAD to be a joke…I now believe it’s for real. And I don’t know quite how to feel about it.
My initial reaction was perfectly in keeping with that of someone who has spent the past nine years obsessing over the contest from afar, wishing I could vote just once, and the past five-and-a-half years religiously blogging about what has become my favourite thing on the planet (FRIENDS and pizza aside).
That reaction = super-charged, wide-eyed, slack-jawed excitement. Sadly I couldn’t let out a melodramatic scream of ecstasy for fear of waking up the rest of the household, but I really, really wanted to. Because this is a very big – if very strange – deal.
Until now, the cringe-worthy Down Under skit + saving-grace performance by a foil-clad Jess Mauboy during Copenhagen’s semi two interval is the closest Australia’s come to competing – and fair enough, too. We’re not part of the EBU, nor are we the only non-EBU country to be fans and broadcasters of Eurovision (although we do tend to be more openly nuts about it). These are just two of the reasons why this move by Jon Ola and his cronies is, as the man himself described it, daring.
To return to my first assumption that Australia’s entry couldn’t possibly be legit, I figured we were in for another “participation” like last year’s, which struck me as unnecessary repetition. Actual participation would be plain ridiculous, right? But all bets are off in 2015, the year the ESC celebrates its 60th edition. The rulebook has been tossed out the window and run over by a succession of semi-trailers (most likely the ones carting the Melodifestivalen stage around).
Bending the rules within that book to the point of them breaking up like a piñata and sending bad-tasting confectionery raining down on Europe (if the reactions of the majority of non-Aussie fans are any indication) is a gamble. It’s one the EBU are willing to take, and have apparently been preparing to unleash for some time. I wonder if they expected the barrage of backlash and endless lists of negatives that are now plastered all over the internet.
Allowing Australia to vote (somehow) in both semi finals, despite us getting a free pass to the grand final, didn’t help matters – though the possibility of having some say in the twenty qualifiers AND the winner makes me want to scream again (which I still can’t). Not even the existing Big 5 and host country are permitted to do that, having been restricted to voting in the semi they are randomly allocated. I can’t help thinking the news would have been better received if we’d been placed in the shorter semi final, in spite of the EBU’s wish not to diminish the chances of an EBU member nation qualifying. As it stands, such special treatment in lieu of the 60th contest and Australia’s ever-growing fandom has rubbed many fans up the wrong way. I understand that. But I can’t help feeling a little victimised nonetheless.
Rest assured that this development had nothing to do with me (like you’d think it had. I’m telling you, my recent threatening of Jon Ola with a glitter-bomb bazooka had no impact at all). I never would have thought of campaigning to make this happen, but if someone in a position of power had approached me and said ‘Australia. Eurovision. May 2015. All we need is your permission and we’re good to go’, would I have said ‘As if!’?
No. I would have said ‘HELL YEAH!’, without thinking to delve into the potential consequences. Now, in the aftermath of the news breaking, and after attempting to see the situation from all angles, I find myself sitting on the fence.
As I have mentioned about 500 times throughout this incoherent rambling, I am Australian, and I am fixated on the ESC pretty much 24/7. Therefore it’s impossible for me to swallow the excitement that’s bubbling up inside right now (especially as it would probably just change direction and come out as a very long and very jubilant fart *lowers already low tone of blog with gas reference*). That prospect of having a say and cheering on my own country in a way I’ve only been able to do in the Olympics and Miss Universe (which, while epic in their own way, aren’t Eurovision) is incredible. Up until now, I thought I’d have to wait ‘til my well-timed European jaunt of (hopefully) 2016 to text in a bajillion votes for Sweden (unless I happen to be in Sweden, of course. Then I’ll just nip over the Øresund bridge into Denmark to vote). So in that sense, I couldn’t be happier.
However, I can’t ignore those cons detailed by fans all over Facebook, Twitter, Eurovision websites, and informatively summed up in this article. It will take until May and beyond to see how they all play out. In the meantime, the questions we have to ask ourselves include:
- What will be the fallout of the Land Down Under taking on and possibly beating Europe at their own game?
- How many countries of the world will hate us when they are barred from entering the contest in 2016 after this precedent has been set?
- What is final frontier of EBU wackiness, if this ain’t it?
- Will everyone fall for eurovision.tv’s annual April Fool’s joke now that such a seemingly hilarious proposition has turned out to be 100% true?
- Will we be booed off stage like t.A.T.u or given a Conchita-worthy cheer?
- How many people will fall asleep because the final will be, like, a whole five minutes longer (from what I can see this is a big issue)?
- And, how many people will confuse ‘Australia’ with ‘Austria’? This is clearly the biggest issue of them all.
Some of these are petty cons (a slightly longer final? Oh, how dreadful!) but others signify that this decision has opened up a great big can of worms, one unlikely to be closed any time soon.
But why dwell on that when you could turn your attention to something much more important: discussing who it could be that will be representing us? Let’s examine this in brief. Two years ago I posted a list of who I’d choose in the fantasy-turned-reality land in which Australia competed. I still reckon some of these acts would be great flag-flyers – Delta Goodrem, Gurrumul, Guy Sebastian, Jess Mauboy and Samantha Jade are at the top of my preference list. They’re a mix of ARIA award winners and reality TV contestants, and it’s one of the latter who’s in the mix be name-dropped by SBS next month.
Our X Factor winner of 2013, Dami Im, could be a coup, as she’s got tons of stage experience and even represented us in the ABU TV Song Festival last year, alongside MaNga. Here’s a taste of what she’s capable of, for those unacquainted with the Dami Army.
As you can see, she also has strong costume game. The girl is unafraid of power shoulders and taking crystal embellishments right down to the tips of her toes. She’s made for Eurovision!
Oh god. I think I have to end this long string of miscellaneous musings right here, because it’s going nowhere unless ‘all over the place’ counts as a direction. I just had some stuff to get out of my system. EBJ will return to regularly scheduled programming from now on. That is until the EBU makes another announcement to let us know that the maximum number of people on stage is being raised to four hundred, and that costume reveals are now mandatory. I’d rather enjoy that second one. #teamcostumerevealforever.
One final note: for those who are very pro-rules and regulations, I get you. But the fact is that this is happening. Australia, like Santa Claus in December, is coming to town. So, to make the joke of the day that exploits Vienna’s slogan of choice, everyone’s going to have to build a bridge and get over it.
Posted on February 11, 2015, in Eurovision 2015 and tagged Australia, Dami Im, EBU, Eurovision 2015, Gurrumul, HOLY CRAP WE'RE IN IT TO WIN IT!!!, Jon Ola Sand, Samantha Jade, Vienna. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.