Each year the hype of Eurovision surrounds fans among the world but in particular, Australians are more excited than ever as Australia prepares to participate for the third year.
Eurovision is, for many people, a European song contest and consequently some of the hostility against Australia’s participation centres on a simple geographical fact: Australia is not part of Europe.
Therefore, many have opposing views of why Australia has become part of Eurovision when they are not part of the European nation.
British talk show host Graham Norton has come out in strong opposition to Australia being included.
He has called for Australia to be banned entirely as he can’t make sense of why Australia is included.
“I just do not understand why they are in the Eurovision Song Contest. Get rid of Australia,” he said (SBS 2017).
“I know some countries aren’t technically in Europe but, come on — Australia is on the other side of world.”
Norton says he was okay with Australia being included in the first year of Eurovision as it was a special anniversary year.
“They said it was a one-off as it was a celebratory anniversary and you think, ‘OK’, but they are back again for the third time,” he said.
“What’s that about? I’ve got nothing against Australia. I just think it is kind of stupid.”
But fans were quick to rebut Norton’s comments towards Australia’s participation.
Lifelong Eurovision fan and researcher, Dr Jess Carniel, from the University of Southern Queensland, says Eurovision is more than just a song contest.
“For fans in both Australia and Europe, Eurovision is not ‘just’ a song contest. Sure, we love the music, but it is also about so much more.”
“It is a litmus for European politics and economy. It is a centre of community and a site of acceptance. With a great soundtrack.”
Carniel is conducting an ongoing study of Australia’s participation in Eurovision.
She explains the project began emphasising multiculturalism and LGBTIQ communities however she discovered this is only a fragment of Eurovision subculture and is also exploring how the contest fits into our television landscape, both nationally and globally.
Carniel goes on to say “Eurovision should transcend geographical boundaries – it is about unity, belonging, diversity, and of course, fun.”
Another Aussie Eurovision fan, Judy Peacock, says she has always loved Eurovision but with Australia’s involvement, her love has grown and throws themed parties to celebrate.
“I get my friends together, we dress up and play drinking games while we watch Eurovision together,” she said.
Despite Australia’s geographical location, Peacock says she doesn’t see any problems with Australia participating in Eurovision.
A fan from Belgium, Maja Milovanovic, says she admires Australia’s participation in Eurovision as it displays unity and multiculturalism.
“The point of Eurovision is unity so the participation of other countries such as Australia is important,” Milovanovic said.
With Australian representative Dami Im making it to the finals last year, many wonder what will happen if Australia wins Eurovision in the future.
Eurovision Special Events Producer from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Peter Brosnan, says if Australia were to win, due to time differences, SBS would most likely co-host with a European producer, with the contest taking place in that country instead.
“Which country that would be, exactly, remains unconfirmed – but Germany has been tipped as a potential host in those circumstances, as has the UK,” he said.
Brosnan explains eligibility to participate in Eurovision isn’t bounded by geography.
“The first step of eligibility is membership in the European Broadcasting Union – Australia is an associate member,” he said.
“SBS have been broadcasting the performance for a number of years and the EBU wanted Australia to be more involved.”
Brosnan concludes saying that the “Eurovision Song Contest has been shown on SBS for over three decades and seems to enjoy (love it or hate it) a cult following down under.”
Eurovision will take place throughout May in Ukraine, with Isaiah Firebrace set to represent Australia – performing his song Don’t Come Easy.
Brosnan, P. Interviewee, Eurovision Special Events Producer (European Broadcasting Union, Switzerland). 18 June, 2017.
Carniel, J. Interviewee, Researcher from University of Southern Queensland & Eurovision fan (QLD). 16 June, 2017.
Milovanovic, M. Interviewee, International Eurovision fan (Belgium). 18 June, 2017.
Peacock, J. Interviewee, Australian Eurovision fan (QLD). 17 June, 2017.
SBS. 2017. “Sorry Graham Norton, but Australia’s participation in Eurovision is not “stupid”.” Accessed June 15, 2017. http://www.sbs.com.au/programs/eurovision/article/2016/05/12/comment-sorry-graham-norton-australias-participation-eurovision-not-stupid
Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pht-Vugar_Ibadov_eurovision_(30).jpg