I really like and respect Georgia. Despite my usual sarcasm showing in the past few post, I think it’s a great country with an impressive history. Its problem is its unfortunate geopolitical situation: It is very difficult to be a small neighbor of Russia these days. Russia wants it to be obedient (and share some of the territory), and another superpower wants to use it to put pressure on Russia. Having seen Ukraine deal with a similar predicament, I can’t help but feel sorry for it.
Georgia has participated in the Eurovision only twice before. So when Georgia pulled out of this year’s contest yesterday, I felt bad for it. But what is the deal with all the hypocrisy?
Here is what MSNBC quotes Georgia’s representative as saying:
“Our song … does not contain political statements and the public broadcaster is not going to change the text of the song and refuses to go to competition in Moscow,” the head of production at Georgia’s state broadcaster, First Channel, George Chanturia, told a news briefing.
Many countries in the past expressed and enforced their political views through using or banning popular music. National anthems are composed to sound grand and solemn to inspire patriotism. The Russian’s use of the old Soviet score for theirs was a definitive political choice. But politics and music intertwine more often than an average Russian hears the anthem: Presidential candidates everywhere enlist pop singers to campaign for them. Western Ukraine banned playing songs in Russian in public places a few summers ago (all other languages were fine). The Beatles were banned in the USSR at some point — as a propaganda tool of the “decaying capitalism. I have seen North Koreans study Britney Spears CD’s as a way of learning about America’s culture.
There is nothing wrong when a band from a country that feels oppressed performs a song that claims they don’t want a president of the oppressing country. I mean, North Korea does it with George Bush. Wait, that’s a bad example. All similar ones I can think of right now were written by the Communist propaganda masters.
Anyway, there is also nothing wrong when that song gets distributed worldwide through the wonder that is YouTube. But it is somewhat strange when that song gets entered into a competition that is supposed to be non-political by nature, that will be held in the ‘oppressing country’s’ capital, — and when the official representatives claim it is clearly non-political and act all indignant.
If there were no rules in place that ban songs of political nature to be performed at Eurovision, I would not mind ‘We Don’t Wanna Put In being performed this year. Freedom of speech is a jus cogens to me. Truth be told, Eurovision is a very politicized events, and the way voting is structured allows countries to block against other countries etc.
Judging aside, from a political scientist viewpoint, I think that this song situation did not work in Georgia’s favor. Georgia knew what the rules were, it knew that everyone would hear ‘Putin,’ not ‘Put In’, it could probably predict the song would be banned by the Eurovision organizers. I would guess that it was looking for some sort of political martyr reputation, but instead, it came across as being petty. Georgia just needs a new political strategist.