Eurovision 2018: Can Australia take the Criticism as well as it dishes it out?

Celebrations are continuing in Israel after Netta Barzilai’s Eurovision win with her #MeToo-inspired Toy, but what about here in Australia, where Jessica Mauboy tanked in the public vote with her song, We Got Love?

Europe has cooled on Australia

So, was our Jessica just not kitsch enough for Eurovision audiences, or was there something else going on?

Eurovision historian John Kennedy O’Connor says there was “enormous delight” when Australia first came into the contest as a one-off special guest.

“That’s how it was sold, that’s what it was all about, and Europe embraced you.”

But he says our welcome has now been rescinded.

“I don’t say that with any glee … I just feel that the joke’s worn thin,” he told RN Breakfast.

Really? Bea Smith?

“Hearing Lulu’s soulful voice belting out ‘My heart goes Boom Bang-a-Bang…’ is enough to make you want to puncture your own with a screwdriver.”

— From 10 Worst Eurovision Winners Ever

“For 50 years you were very happy to knock the UK, whoever you knocked you didn’t mind … but I’ve noticed Australia will not accept any criticism of their own artist now you’re in it.”

Mr O’Connor had some harsh words for Australian fans.

He called Jessica Mauboy’s performance “terrible”.

“I thought actually she’d escaped from Wentworth and it was Bea Smith on stage.”

“She was dreadful,” he told a rather shocked RN Breakfast presenter.

Mr O’Connor conceded that it was only natural for Australians to be proud of our entrant.

“But she was describing herself in the media as Australia’s Beyoncé — clearly she’s never seen Beyoncé.”

Politics, legitimacy and (failed) world domination

According to the rule book, says Mr O’Connor, Australia cannot enter the Eurovision competition and is there only as a special guest.

Here’s why:

1) SBS, the TV station that broadcasts Eurovision in Australia, is only an associate member of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organises the song contest, and that does not grant access to Eurovision events.

Meanwhile, Turkey, Bosnia, Monaco, Luxembourg and Slovakia no longer take part, Mr O’Connor explained, because their official broadcaster doesn’t want to do it.

“And the EBU say, sorry, we’re not having any private broadcasters involved, you have to be a member.”

And that’s why, according to Mr O’Connor, “the good will has evaporated”.

“Turkey is shut out, Monaco is shut out, Slovakia is shut out, but Australia is in — I think that’s now got a bit too controversial.”

2) Australia is also not a member of the Council of Europe — another condition for entering Eurovision.

3) Finally, can we really say that Australia is within the “European broadcast footprint”?

“It’s a pretty big footprint that stretches to Australia,” Mr O’Connor pointed out.

The Eurovision historian says Australia is in Eurovision because of the dream of Asiavision.

The idea of an Asia-Pacific song contest has been in the works for some time, but has suffered one delay after another.

This week the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) responded to China’s censorship of the first semi-final broadcast by terminating their partnership with the local broadcaster, Mango TV.

As a result, Chinese audiences never had the pleasure of viewing the second semi-final or the grand final.

“So, I think Asiavision may be dead in the water,” Mr Kennedy surmised.

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