The European Rightly
October 20th, 2020

Belgium takes penile prints of asylum seekers

Male asylum seekers entering Belgium will have to cede prints of their erectile penis. ‘We admit fingerprints are too intrusive, that’s why we’re taking penile prints’, government officials say.

Men relieved by Facebook’s new ‘Show me your tits’ button

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Why on earth is Spain still in Eurovision?

May 8th, 2013

Eurovision Song Contest expert Andrew Miller wonders why Spain always sends forgettable, middle-of-the-road productions. ‘It’s like they don’t even want to win. Why are they still participating at all?’

Viewers will instantly forget this band the day after the ESC is over.

The Big Five – though usually there’s just four of them – automatically participate in the ESC’s finals because they fork over most of the money for Europe’s annual kitsch extravaganza. France, Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain are rarely good at winning it, though. From a historical perspective, things look especially dire for Spain. The Iberian country participated 52 times in the Contest, and has won it only two times – and one of these victories was a tie, which doesn’t count.

‘The problem with Spain’s submissions to the Eurovision Song Contest is that they are incredibly bland,’ says Eurovision specialist Andrew Miller. ‘Even their gimmicks are rarely memorable, and it is unlikely that this year’s lady on a white horse will rank among the winners. At some point, you have to wonder why they are still participating at all. It’s like they don’t even want to win.’

Italy, for example, withdrew from the Contest several times. ‘They found the entire circus a little beneath them,’ explains Miller, ‘and who can blame them?’ The Italians are back for the 2013 edition in Malmö though. ‘It seems like they are betting on a pair of sideburns with a competent but boring ballad. Not bad, but not as aggressively boring as Spain,’ comments Miller.

There is some method to the madness, however. ‘Bland is safe,’ says Carolina Gorgonzola, media analyst at the University of Milan. ‘There’s a significant portion of the audience that votes safe as well. In that respect, Spain often represents the slightly right-of-centre vote for Conservative or Christian Democrat parties. They may never win the Contest again, but they will never lose it either. Other powers among the Big Five regularly take more risk.’

But the other three powers of the Big Five all tread familiar ground, too. ‘France tends to do well in the category of being French,’ notes Miller, ‘and I don’t think this year will be an exception. Germany is sending Cascada, which to me looks like a time capsule of bad taste and tanning bed sessions straight from 1996.’

‘We’re pretty rubbish too,’ admits Miller. ‘After years of heaping scorn on the contest for all its shortcomings, the most surprising thing is that the British public seemed shocked that neither a choir boy emerging from a box, nor the corpse of Engelbert Humperdinck went over well on the Continent.’

Andrew Miller:
‘The problem with Spain’s submissions is that they are incredibly bland’

In that light, Bonnie Tyler’s entry ‘Believe in me‘ seems particularly desperate as an indictment of how low the mighty have fallen. ‘Well, at least you can sort of hope that Bonnie ends up drunk and pisses her pants,’ notes a grim Miller, ‘No such chances with Spain. Shame about their bagpipes. I like those.’

This is the second part of the Rightly’s ESC Special. Up next: ‘Belgium and the decline of the West’.