Saturday, August 22, 2009

Nationalism intrudes on the sphere of music

As an American, the whole Eurovision song contest phenomenon seemed quite odd when I lived in Azerbaijan last year. The Azerbaijan entrant to the contest that year was broadcast non-stop on the radio and television. (In all honesty, I thought the song and the performance was overwrought - but I'm not much of a pop music fan.) This year, the whole contest has gotten even weirder. First, Georgia's entry into the contest was an open slap at Russia. Now, the Azerbaijan authorities have harassed people who had the audacity to "vote" for the Armenian entry in the contest.

Of course, it was unrealistic to expect that nationalist politics would not invade such a contest. After all, chauvinistic nationalism pervades so much of society in the region. Global Voices has a nice update of the current controversy, with some interesting comments from readers.

One question comes to mind. If people cannot freely vote in a song contest, how can anyone think that last year's presidential election was fair. It's fine for the Azerbaijan authorities to lie, but no one should pretend that these lies have any relation to reality.