So the last couple of days have been crazy in Ukraine’s little corner of Eurovision. In case you were stuck in a different galaxy and didn’t hear the story already, here’s a quick recap for you – just hold your horses real tight:
Jamala interrogation gone wild
Ukraine’s national selection, Vidbir 2019, was held on Saturday. Watch the whole thing here (do note the combined grand piano and percussion around 1:32). Several of the contestants were asked awkward questions, making us think they were not in fact competing to represent Ukraine in a song competition formerly known as unpolitical, but instead rivaling for the position as Ukraine’s next top lieutenant in unfriendly territory. The interrogation was done by jury member Jamala, and it looked a bit like this:
We cannot even begin to elaborate on how disappointed we were in this once so classy winner of Eurovision. It was worse than when Carola found God. But nonetheless, MARUV answered correctly and won. And she looked like this:
From extraordinary poses to extraordinary demands
This could have been end of story until we meet again, with pearl boob underwires sans pants doing extraordinary poses in Tel Aviv’s version of EuroClub. But no. Turns out Ukraine’s broadcaster UA:PBC – surprise, surprise – isn’t particularly interested in listening to the votes of the Ukrainian people and have given themselves 32 hours to decide whether MARUV is allowed to go to war for…sorry, Freudian slip…represent Ukraine in Eurovision.
In the meantime MARUV has published the list of demands imposed on her by the broadcaster, which she needs to accept in order to participate. These are confirmed by UA:PBC:
- MARUV needs to cancel all her shows and operation in Russia, which is quite a large market for her as she took part in The Voice Russia.
- MARUV is banned from any improvisation on the stage without the approval of the UA:PBC.
- MARUV must immediately transfer the copyright to the song, which at present stage belongs to Warner Music, to UA:PBC.
- MARUV needs to clearly fulfill any requirements and indications of UA:PBC. According to her, this means she could be forced to dance at the birthday of some deputy minister.
- MARUV is not allowed to communicate with journalists without UA:PBC approval. (It is unclear to us whether this means that UA:PBC needs to approve only the interview situations or also everything that is said, but based on experience we suspect the latter).
The violation of any of these points is fined with 2 Million UAH (over 65,000 Euros). In return, MARUV gets the pleasure of arranging her own visa and paying for her entire travels and participation.
This is were we draw the line. We know Russia and Ukraine is at war – or at conflict, if you prefer. And while we do have our opinions on that one, there are no easy solutions and this is not for us to meddle in, especially not on a fan site about Eurovision. People behave in the most peculiar ways when under attack, and we should be careful in judging them for it. Also, there are few acts representing a country at conflict that is not read into the conflict situation in one way or another, so we understand the carefulness to some extent.
Yet, no country is excused from allowing people their basic human rights, and watching vulnerable artists being interrogated on stage in front of a live camera is nothing short of sad and degrading. No public broadcaster or fellow performer should take pride in imposing gag orders on people and exercising cultural censorship. Culture should be supported, not restricted. Artists should be allowed to serve a greater purpose by picking their own battles, whether they are motivated by politics or artistic quality or both. Free culture is good culture.
We stand with MARUV, as we stand with other artists being bullied by their country. No artist taking part in Eurovision should be forced to promote particular opinions or sides in a conflict. While we do not believe anything is or can be unpolitical, Eurovision shouldn’t be a battle field upon which the players will be too many and too chaotically organized.
We welcome our fellow country man Jon Ola Sand to the table and expect the EBU to fix this before withdrawal is the only option.
Best regards, GEE, also known as the women who are seriously working on copying these glasses in time for Tel Aviv: