A lot of the current European animosity toward the US gets chalked up to George Bush, pre-emptive wars, lax gun control, and other topical political tumors. A lot of it, though, really comes down to taste. Europeans think Americans are poor conversationalists, dressers, eaters, hair-coiffers, and go-outers. The current political stuff is nice icing, but most of the tension between our continents really boils down to Snobs vs. Slobs.
Well I'm calling bullshit. Yes, American culture is tacky in a large-portions, tube-socks kind of way, but at least we have enough sense to have banished dance-pop to the 80-hertz nether-regions of the radio dial.
Last Saturday, Europe lost another chunk of its Snob Rights. That's right, it's EuroVision season again. Here's a sample:
The EuroVision Song Contest is exactly what it sounds like. Every country in Europe creates an original song, they're all performed on live TV, and then every country votes for the best one. The theory is that the winning song then gets played on radio stations, becomes a big hit, and inspires a new era of pre-World Wars continental getting-alongness. It usually ends up being more like the Oscars, though, or the Miss America Pageant: By the time the closing credits come on, you've already forgotten who won, and the song instantly retires to the cultural footnote-dom of being played at 9 pm in gay bars.
It says something about the show that this was the most entertaining song all night. But maybe I'm just a sucker for Ukranian drag queens, German counting, and Austin Powers choreography, all in under three minutes.
If you want to know how incredibly embarrassing it can get, check out Britain's entry:
The most amazing thing about this is that it's actually taken seriously. Central London was nearly deserted on EuroVision night when I was living there. Apparently there were massive parties and riots in Finland when their heavy-metal ode to … orcs or some shit won last year. An Icelandic friend of mine was pulled over when he was driving from one EuroVision party to another during the show one year, and the cops wanted to make sure everything was OK. "But why would you be driving now? EuroVision is on."
So, dear American friends, take heart. Next time one of your cheese-and-whining EuroFriends says something snide as eat your third serving of macaroni and cheese, you have a seven-word retort permanently at the ready: "At least I don't watch EuroVision, motherfucker."