In Susan Sontag’s Notes on Camp, Sontag defines the essence of camp as “its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration”. What, then, could be more camp than Eurovision?
Eurovision is what a European Parliament meeting would look like if it was run by drag queens. Except, of course, Eurovision is a lot less European than its name would suggest: Australians have now made their presence known, turning up all tanned and smiley (sickening). What it lacks in geographic-specificity, it makes up in being utterly ridiculous: like a less misogynistic Miss World.
If you don’t think Eurovision is the best night-in of the year, you’re wrong. There’s people who stay up all night to watch elections. People who stay up (part-way) through the night to watch Eurovision are like them, except infinitely more fun. It’s just as political, too: despite political tunes being disqualified. On a personal note, I am particularly sad that Belarus got disqualified for political tunes, as usually I have some weird nationalist pride for the country, which I have never visited and my family, many, many years ago, had to flee. Eurovision points are not awarded on merit, but rather political allegiances. Even if our Eurovision entry was the biggest banger of all time, France would still not give us points: we have beef going back to Waterloo.
Speaking of Waterloo, Abba’s absolute banger was a true anomaly in Eurovision history. The songs of Eurovision are not good by any measure. Imagine a Kylie Minogue b-side (from any era, depending on the country) and you’ve pretty much got a Eurovision tune. But this isn’t music GCSE: no one is giving points for musical skill. It’s all about the performance: the costumes, choreography, the VIBES.
The vibe is, of course, cheesy. But Eurovision is so self-aware that it narrowly avoids being too cringe to watch. This is achieved primarily by the commentary. Sir Terry Wogan, God rest his soul, was an absolute King. However, his big shoes were filled by Graham Norton, who is witty- and clearly drinking throughout.
And that’s, ultimately, what we are all doing. Beyond anything, Eurovision is a SESH. In fact, the first time I ever got properly, properly plastered was watching Eurovision, downing a bottle of wine before anyone had muttered nil poi (before any francophone tells me off: even spelling correctly in French is too pretentious for moi). Despite watching the show for its full duration, I had no idea who had won- and a two day hangover. This year, I hope I make it into work on Monday, but no promises (I can’t wait for this to come up in my inevitable work tribunal). Eurovision drinking games are toxic, but also very, very fun.
Eurovision is a lot of things, but it is truly never dull. So pop open the bottles of wine, and revel in the campest night of the year. Eurovision, we’ve missed you ❤️