Tag Archives: eurovision 2014

Gender fluidity is the new black

Jens Dresling
BY WINNING THIS year’s Eurovision Song Contest Conchita Wurst did not only put gender at the top of the agenda. The triumph of the 25-year-old Austrian drag act makes way for a – for some – new concept; gender fluidity.

Social anthropologists along with sociologists and other scholars doing research on gender have for years argued that gender should be perceived as a spectrum rather than a static category.

According to the Executive Director of Gender Spectrum, Stephanie Hill, it is necessary to distinguish between sex and gender. While sex is biological and includes physical attributions, gender is the complex interrelationship between one’s physical traits and one’s internal sense of self as male, female, both or neither as well as one’s outward presentations and behavior related to that perception. In short, gender is a social spectrum and thus way more complicated than the category of the biological sex.

Wurst’s real name is Tom Neuwirth. When Tom puts on eyelashes and wick he becomes his female persona and is referred to as “she”. In other words, Wurst is a clue to what gender fluidity might look like in practice.

While Putin and his administration continue to express homophobic views and put forward anti-gay policies, it seems like Europe is moving in a more liberal direction, making way for a broader understanding of gender and identity. 

Collecting the trophy on stage Wurst said: “This night is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom. You know who you are — we are unity and we are unstoppable.”

After her victory Wurst told reporters that she felt Europe had taken a stand by voting her the winner. No doubt her triumph shows progress in liberal attitudes among Europeans. Wurst added that she hopes gay, lesbian, bi and transgender people around the world are getting stronger in their fight for human rights.

While Putin and his administration continue to express homophobic views and put forward anti-gay policies, it seems like Europe is moving in a more liberal direction, making way for a broader understanding of gender and identity.

Now, let us celebrate the triumph of Wurst. A triumph of tolerance.

 

By Sofie Ejdrup Larsen
Photo Credit Jens Dresling

What ever happened to Intervision?

Eurovision studio in Moscow 2009

Eurovision studio in Moscow 2009

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Intervision? Isn’t that the thing that the Americans invented to rival Nintendo back in the 80s before they had it secretly (and chemically) destroyed for being just too awful?

Well believe it or not Intervision was the Cold War rival to Eurovision back during the days when nuclear Armageddon was looming over the continent. Even on the issue of music, we still couldn’t agree on anything.

Intervision first came to my attention last year in an article by the BBC which explained what the Intervision song contest was. It started out as a Polish competition set up by Wladyslaw Szpilman who’s life story rose to international prominence in the critically acclaimed film ‘The Pianist’.

However, in the 1970s the Soviet powers that be saw the contest for what it was and decided that, as they had taken democracy and self-determination from just about every country in eastern Europe, it was probably only fair they gave something back in the form of a music competition. To be fair, it looks like it worked pretty well.

Despite this the contest continued to be held in Sopot, Poland, for the duration of its time.

The voting system at Intervision seems, however, to have been based on a slightly less practical, and frankly less democratic method than its bourgeois, capitalist rival Eurovision…

Yes, I really hope that’s true as well. To be fair, in our current age of low election turnouts voting via light switch might actually prove more democratic and after the most recent fiasco’s in voting at the Eurovision song contest it actually seems like the Soviets were onto something. Thanks Malta, we get your sympathy vote every year.

But enough of the history and bizarre voting methods, here’s a taster of what Intervision had to offer.

I think the comments on this actually sum up this video nicely – “Bring back satin suits!” The first act seemed passable but the troubling thing about this performance is that the keyboard player in the second act has been denied access to a stool. Now I know the Eastern Bloc was hardly famous for its commitment to human rights but come on, that piano is at such an awkward height. GIVE THAT MAN A STOOL FOR PITY’S SAKE!

Now, on the face of it there’s very little wrong with this performance. Yes, it is very 1970s. I understand that, but we must look at these things in isolation but, okay, what is up with the camera angle which seems to resemble the view from a snipers nest waiting to pick off any dissenters. Actually, if you watch carefully enough, at 1:50 I swear that poor Kirka looks up to the nest high up in the scaffolding pleading not to be privy to a massacre.

Okay, okay, this one wasn’t from Intervision. But it still gets me every time. I couldn’t have an appreciation of Communist entertainment without including possibly the most endearing video east of the Elbe. 

Picture credit: Michael