I’ve been quiet the past couple of days because I’ve been busy working on the groundwork of my novel. And also, watching Eurovision.
Last night was the usual pageantry, the usual exhibition of randomness (why was there a man in a hamster wheel for Ukraine’s entry? why the trapeze for Azerbaijan? because EUROVISION, that’s why!) and that’s why we love it. Lyrics ranged from the trite love song (one in fact called “The Cliched Love Song” to the zany, “I want a mustache” (France’s Twin Twin rocked that particular number) and the downright bizarre:
“Looking for a candidate you have an option only one choice. Sipping my drinks looking around, there is so much beauty, oh yes we can. But yet, self-confidence is a fragile concept, that often fades away in the night. And there it comes, that unwanted guest, there is no place for you tonight “
Thanks for that, Switzerland! The addition of a whistling refrain really added to it.
So when it came to light that one of the entries was Austria’s popular “bearded lady,” Conchita Wurst, no one really batted an eyelid. Hey, it’s Eurovision, anything goes! We’ve had dancing grannies and all sorts.
Although in her native Austria, more than 31,000 people liked an “Anti-Wurst” Facebook page following the decision to select her. In October, the Ministry of Information in Belarus received a petition calling on BTRC, Belarus’ state broadcaster, to edit Wurst’s performance out of its Eurovision broadcast. The petition claimed that the performance would turn Eurovision “into a hotbed of sodomy”. In December, a similar petition surfaced in Russia. [Wikipedia]
But we’re the UK, we’re progressive and accepting of nontraditional gender roles.
And then she won.
Suddenly my Facebook news feed blew up. People couldn’t just sit on the fence about this one anymore, they had to have an opinion. I’m sorry to say that I saw more than a few comments on friend’s status updates where people (not friends of mine, I’m happy to say, or they wouldn’t have stayed friends for long) have proclaimed distaste for the “he-she” or that “pick a gender, you can’t be both!” Thankfully the opinions of my friends themselves were more progressive, and among them some true supporters of Conchita Wurst and her message.
So what’s gotten people so hot under the collar?
With the rise in drag-queen normality, with such shows as RuPaul’s Drag Race, the ignorant public have started to get used to seeing men in drag. But only if the illusion is complete. If Conchita Wurst had no beard, I think there wouldn’t have been an outcry. But her choice to display her beard alongside her crystals, her fabulous sweeping gown, beautiful long hair – this is what makes the common Joe/Jocinda Public uncomfortable. They need the illusion to be completely man or woman.
Personally, I love the transgression of her appearance. It’s brave and purposefully jarring. Her very name shows her disdain of what people might think. From her Wikipedia page:
While in German, Wurst means ‘sausage,’ the performer compares the choice of last name to the common German expression ‘Das ist mir doch alles Wurst,’ which translates as ‘it’s all the same to me,’ and ‘I don’t care,’ stating that the name emerged from the first meaning of the expression and added, “It doesn’t really matter where one comes from, and what one looks like.”
And indeed it shouldn’t matter what one looks like, how one chooses to present oneself, what gender, or lack thereof, one identifies with. The fact is that Conchita Wurst sang beautifully. “Rise Like a Phoenix” was evocative of old-movie glamour, with the class and style of a Bond film’s opening credits. It was big, it was dramatic, and it was Eurovision.
However, what no one has really commented on, apart from the vulgar odd joke, is Poland’s entry: My Słowianie (We Are Slavic) by Donatan and Cleo. It depicted several provocatively-dressed busty women as traditional milkmaids, churning butter suggestively with their tits hanging out. If you’re going to get upset about gender issues and turning Eurovision into a “hotbed” of something, there’s a whole host of things to get outraged about there!
But no, the average ignorant viewer is used to seeing women being objectified; rampant sluttery is old news. Drag queens with beards, now that’s what they don’t like to see! Just think of the children! They’ll grow up thinking that gender isn’t binary, while they swan around in their hotpants and flutter their fake eyelashes at the opposite sex. Gasp, shock, horror, etc.
Really makes you despair for the human race, doesn’t it? Personally, I think we need more people like Conchita Wurst, she’s a true role model. In her own words:
“This is about an important message, it’s call for tolerance for everything that seems different.”