Eurovision Song Winner Pulls a Beyoncé, Sets Off ‘Culture War’

The colossal annual Eurovision Song Contest apparently has long had a ban on overtly political lyrics. The hardly-easy-to-enforce edict was challenged this past Tuesday, when Armenian singer Iveta Mukuchyan brandished a Nagorno-Karabakh flag, in protest of Armenia’s occupation of the Azerbaijani region. It set tongues wagging.

But last night’s final in Stockholm may have genuinely served to escalate the ongoing troubles between Ukraine and Russia, with Ukrainian singer Jamala taking the top prize for her song “1944.” It contains the not-so-subtle lyrical pleas, “You think you are gods / But everyone dies / Don’t swallow my soul / Our souls” and “We could build a future / Where people are free / To live and love.”

Before her victory, Jamala had told The Guardian that if she did indeed win, “It will mean that modern European people are not indifferent, and are ready to hear about the pain of other people and to sympathize.” It was a clear reference to the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, and the continuing violent struggle that has followed. Russian officials responded to Jamala’s victory with immediate scorn, calling for her disqualification based on breaking the ban on political lyrical statements.

This comes hot on the heels of Beyoncé’s controversial Super Bowl halftime show in February, which itself set off something of a socio-political firestorm in America. As could be expected, both sides of the ideological divide conveniently interpreted her performance to the specific promotion of their own agendas.

Considering Eurovision 2016 had a worldwide viewing audience of 200,000,000, Russia, surely, can be expected to not just shrink quietly away from this fight.


Concerned Citizen: Nigeria, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Venezuela, South Sudan

Photo: Akintunde Akinleye for Reuters

Because the first step to a better world is a well informed citizenry…

Northern Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram, says they will “sell” hundreds of abducted school girls. #bringbackourgirls. Pro-Russian mob stormed a police station in Eastern Ukraine and freed 67 militants from detention. Over 2,000 people are confirmed dead after a landslide in rural Afghanistan. Venezuela security forces used unlawful and excessive violence against unarmed protesters including severe beatings and gunshots, says Human Rights Watch report. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warns of possible genocide in South Sudan.

Ukrainian Art Exhibit Stars Real-Life Sleeping Beauties Waiting To Be Kissed

A Ukrainian art exhibit called Sleeping Beauty stars five young women who take turns sleeping in the gallery for two hours a day — and pledge to marry the person whose kiss awakens her. So far only one Beauty in the Kiev museum has been woken from a kiss, but it was by a woman who already has a boyfriend. And Ukraine does not allow same-sex marriage. So there’s that. 

Sleeping Beauty is a piece by Taras Polataiko, a Ukranian-Canadian artist, who told Yahoo News that the point of the exhibit is for viewers to witness love’s starting point but also about the tension in the moment of the kiss. But that’s more wishful thinking on his part:  National Art Museum of Ukraine visitors sign paperwork that reading "If I kiss the Beauty and she opens her eyes, I agree to marry her" are not legally binding. In addition to germs and maybe-husbands, the volunteering women are also getting presents from would-be suitors: one visitor left a Sleeping Beauty $400 and a new iPad. Not bad for the risk of mono. 

Alas, the exhibit ends today, so let’s hope those other Beauties get married off.

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