The breakable Russian

She’s back again. And there’s not a Portuguese official in sight to stop her:

Here’s the thing: We get that it is hard to be Russian sometimes. You have your very impressive cultural legacy and you have all these amazing artists willing to give stellar performances in Eurovision and the only thing people care about is that you also have a president. Who decides wicked things you don’t necessarily agree on and certainly do not promote in your entry. Never mind that you almost won a dozen of times and the fact that you didn’t probably is due to other people also being great. In Putin town winning is the only option. If winning doesn’t happen, there must be something rotten in the state of Eurovision.

But hold your boo for a second there. It’s not like we hold Putin against Andrey Zvyagintsev, who we in fact believe to be one of the greatest movie makers of our time. We play our Shostakovich without a single image of Putin crossing our minds. We most certainly did not hold Putin against Sergey Lazarev’s silky voice, fearless climbing and delicious perfume (yup, got that close, bliss). And we do not hold Putin against Julia Samoylova. If we were to be completely honest, though, and one should always be honest in Eurovision, especially when from a country where this is still possible, we do hold a few other things against the latter.

Let’s start with the most obvious: the song. Or is it a song even? Not just Julia screaming so much about not breaking that everything around her is bound to do exactly that? There’s very little interesting about this. It only reminds us of something we used to listen to in the 90s and we weren’t the biggest of fans back then either.

Moving on to another problem: The lyrics. We mean, seriously. “When it comes to emotions. From the deepest of oceans”? Or “My castle in the sandIs now made of stone and rock”? Or how about “Even in the darkness, I can see a light”? It all sounds like the rejected pages of Jojo Moyes’ latest novel. We get that this is meant to move us and empower us as much as a certain bearded lady a few years ago, but it is not succeeding at all. We suggest singing in Russian next time, which sounds a lot better.

If you now think we are being cruel to the helpless, let’s also address that elephant. Clearly, Julia has health issues and deserves all the love she can get. We trust there are good people around to give her exactly that, and it is great that she can continue doing what she likes best. But we just don’t see that whole diversity story Russia is trying to tell us. Does Julia give voice to an oppressed group? There have been people in wheelchairs in Eurovision before, and it doesn’t stop them from doing their best. If we start demanding less form people because of disabilities, we’re en route to disrespect.

Also, securing votes by creating diversity demands sincerity. We need to trust that what the artist really wants is to deliver a message. Not tricking us into thinking that, so that she may secure more votes. And we especially do not want to feel like a country is using a well-meaning lady in their quest to earn sympathy votes. That only awards them with the latter.

We are sorry to break this to the Russian hopefuls. But winning Eurovision takes a lot more than being able to attend. So does qualifying for the final. When it comes to Julia we are not sure she’ll manage either. But thumbs up for effort and you’re always welcome back, Russia.


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