Why Wurst was meant to come first

CAUTIOUS NOT TO turn this blog into a Eurovision fest, I couldn’t help but put down in words why Conchita Wurst’s contest conquer was the only outcome.

Given the media attention – both positive and negative – that surrounded her before the grand final, this glamorously tranvestite, bearded, Austrian version of Shirley Bassey – think the lovechild of a Kardashian sister and Jesus Christ – you could argue that she was always going to win on those grounds alone. I’m not really a fan of drag acts; I often find them contrived and bordering on ridculous, and naturally – perhaps ignorantly – I assumed Conchita would appear on stage emerging from an oversized wardrobe, suggestively eating bananas between verses of synthesised EDM. But when she belted out that Bond-esque ballad on Saturday night, it dawned on me that Miss Wurst (real name Tom Neuwirth, by the way) was much more than a man in a wig, in a dress, with a beard.

In last week’s article I wrote about how Eurovision is more of a song circus these days. I still don’t deny it, even if it was actually one of the tamest contests I’d seen (bar the, er, bawdy butter-churning from Poland), but the vocal power alone of Wurst was worthy of real praise; I dare say even winning. Rather fittingly, her victory came after waves of boos for Russia’s fairly successful stint in the competition, reminding us of the inescapable undercurrent of this whole thing. So it still wasn’t strictly a music competition after all, I suppose, and was once again, although this year in a different way, a political playground in disguise. And while Miss Wurst can certainly sing, her victory was a metaphor for much more. No, she probably would not have won had she come on stage dressed as a man, but that was the whole point. It was never meant to be subtle. It was meant to stun people, to get them talking, to get them divided. It was an emblem of the progressivity of the 21st century, a talking point, a perception-challenger and above all it was a big middle finger from the West to the Russian parochialism that prevails over the East. Some Russian politicians were even hailing it “the end of Europe”, and perhaps they’re right – the end of a Europe which, for the most part, shunned individuality and ‘the unknown’ for decades, sitting at home in curtained-off state-owned apartments in emotionless city suburbs, watching state-run, state-produced, state-regulated television. This is 2014, and the fact that she is a man in a dress with (actually quite impressive) facial hair might be mind-boggling to some, but her victory simply represented acceptance in the face of intolerance. 

Right, I promise; no more Eurovision. 

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3 thoughts on “Why Wurst was meant to come first

  1. Pingback: Eurovision: Stop moaning and just laugh | The Connorsseur

  2. Really good critique Connor. I actually missed all of the hype surrounding Eurovision (I haven’t seen any of the performances nor television commentary) but I have heard filtered snippets of conversation surrounding Wurst’s win over the past few days. Predominantly negative, I must say. Most people seem to be criticizing the ‘political stunt’ surrounding his/her selection but it’s nice to know that Wurst was actually talented in his/her own right (does he actually live as a man? I should do some research as the his/her thing feels significantly demeaning). I was born in England and my parents speak fondly of their days as British teens watching Eurovision and the ‘winners of old’. It does seem like the entire competition has changed in terms of its significance and role in European politics. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in years to come.

    • Thank you! I believe she’s only Conchita when she’s working, other than that she’s a man.

      Yeah she’s definitely a talented singer, but the politics side of the competition was still really relevant this year, too. It was different this year, however, because normally it’s about allegiances, but it did seem as though Conchita winning was a statement against the politics in Eastern Europe that’s been dominating news for months; quite interesting. Thanks for reading!

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