It is true that the Eurovision Song Contest is watched on television by millions of people every year. It has been going on since 1956 and may even be the biggest event in pan-European popular culture. However, the music is generally benign pop – mediocre and dull, and no one takes Eurovision seriously. Except, it has now been demonstrated, the contest’s organisers. Rumour has it that they are considering banning this year’s Israeli entry because of its “inappropriate political message”.
The Israeli song is called “Push the Button” and it is performed in three languages, sometimes with comedy accents, in a tongue-in-cheek manner by a band called Teapacks. The song is anti-nuclear war, with such stunning lyrics as “I don’t want to die…I wanna have a lot of fun, just sitting in the sun.” The problem for the folks at Eurovision is the line, “He’s gonna push the button.” The reason being, of course, that “he” probably refers to Iranian President Ahmadinejad.
Needless to say, the difficulty of rhyming anything with Ahmadinejad kept the band from actually using the name in their lyrics.
“It’s absolutely clear that this kind of message is not appropriate for the competition,” said Kjell Ekholm, a Finnish organiser. Which is a ridiculous claim because mediocre pop bands often sing about war or the end of the world, and the song’s message, after all, is anti-war. And, of course, if the organisers hadn’t raised such a fuss, no one outside the Eurovision sphere of influence would ever have heard of the song, including me and Mr. Ahmadinejad.