Is Any Eurovision Publicity, Good Publicity? A Tale of Misrepresentation in Popular Media

Most people would have heard the expression that any publicity is good publicity, but applying that to the recent increase of Eurovision related content in popular Australian media, and beyond, has made me question whether that is really true.

I’ve recently noticed Australian media, online, print and television, have been giving Eurovision more time of day than ever before. Obviously, Australia’s participation has sparked the interest of popular media, as we now have more of a role in the formerly European exclusive event. Part of me is saying ‘finally, some recognition’, as the only recognition Eurovision had in previous years was a 30 second story at the end of the news to tell audiences who won Eurovision, but no more than that. But the other part of me is thinking about how stereotypes and misconceptions about Eurovision are about to be perpetuated, if popular media doesn’t take this seriously enough.

First of all, I’ll look at some particular cases from Australian media. The story that got me thinking about this was a clip shown on Channel 7’s The Morning Show. The hosts, Larry and Kylie decided that they should start ‘preparing’ a song for Eurovision in the case that Guy Sebastian was sick on the night. A joke, obviously, but I decided to watch on. The cringe worthy clip of them singing was enough to make me want to turn off, but then I heard that a ‘Eurovision expert’ would be joining them on the couch to discuss ‘all things Eurovision.’ I don’t know EVERYONE in the Eurovision community, nor the Australian Eurovision community, but I’d like to think that our ‘Eurovision Experts’ would come from the Eurovision community itself, so I was curious to see if one of our members would represent us to explain Eurovision accurately, potentially for the first time on Australian TV.

So I wait and wait through the commercials. Finally it comes back on, and they introduce this so-called expert, and of course – it was a journalist who seemed to gain her Eurovision knowledge a day before the show, and naturally mentioned all the typical words to describe Eurovision, including my least favourite of all, ‘kitsch.’ I was slightly embarrassed as someone who extensively involves themselves in the Eurovision community, and aims to be educated on a wide range of issues regarding Eurovision.

Why is it so inconceivable to the general Australian public that Eurovision is more than what it seems? Part of the reason of setting up Eurovision Union was to change the way we see Eurovision, to show people that there is more to Eurovision, to education people about its importance in our society. I am almost TOO passionate about this issue, but nothing irritates me more than perpetuating stereotypes which couldn’t be further from the truth. I recognise that, in the case of Channel 7’s morning show, that the segment was intended to be a humorous one, but for the love of Conchita, PLEASE don’t claim to have Eurovision experts unless you’ve got Dr. Eurovision himself (teach me how to be you, Paul Jordan).

More recently, I was sitting on the train reading an article in the University of Sydney Union’s student run magazine, discussing Australia’s involvement in Eurovision, and within the first few paragraphs, I began to spot misrepresentations and misreporting. In a sense, I was slightly annoyed I didn’t submit an article myself, as I would have been able to represent Eurovision in the way I think it deserves to be represented. And the sad bit is, only self-proclaimed Eurovision ‘know-it-all’s’ would have even recognised the errors. #tragic

What is slightly more concerning is that Eurovision websites themselves (Well, I have a specific one in mind) are beginning to misreport Eurovision information. The Romanian act for this year, Voltaj, took to Facebook to clarify and condemn Oikotimes for misreporting, and I really think this is a step in the wrong direction. It makes not only them look like fools, but it reflects badly on the reporters from other sites who work hard to get the content up on their purely fan run websites.

Statement made by Voltaj on Facebook
Statement made by Voltaj on Facebook

There needs to be accuracy in reporting of Eurovision, and popular media desperately needs to step away from constantly referring to Eurovision as a joke. Eurovision has really developed with the help of popular media, especially with the explosive increase of fan sites and blogs dedicated to Eurovision, but someone needs to say it straight: we need more respect. This is a call out to Australian media to give me, to give us, a chance. Give us a chance to educate audiences on the true origins and meanings behind Eurovision, rather than reconstitute the same content each year.

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