Eurovision: The Glory, The Drama, The Cheese

There are two major events that draw Europeans together that Americans know little or nothing about.  The first is EUFA (Union of European Football Assocation) tournaments that pit countries against each other on the pitch.  The second is Eurovision, a song contest that pits countries against each other in an attempt to stay on pitch.  Many people give credit to the European Union for ending millenia of near-constant intra-European war, but I think it's fair to say that the competitive arenas of football and regrettable pop songs allows Europeans the ability to feel their hearts warmed with patriotism in a way that won't lead to invading the low countries.  (Americans have no need for this, as we are patriotic 24 hours a day, 365 days a year...and we still sometimes invade countries.)
Irritating Euros with patriotic fervor every day.

Unlike football, Eurovision is not loved by all Europeans - particularly the British, who have a decades-long history of mocking the contest. In general it doesn't poll well with young heterosexual men from Western European countries who think they're too cool to get into the spectacle, or are afraid showing the slightest hint of interest in the show will infect them with teh ghey.  Screw those guys.  Eurovision is awesome, and Americans should love it, too.

Here's why Americans should give Eurovision a chance:

1. It's kinda like the Oscars or Grammys, except not boring, no Billy Crystal, and with better outfits.  Remember that one year Bjork wore a swan dress?  In Eurovision everyone is Bjork every single year all the time, and it's glorious.

2. Despite the fact that Europeans consume all our pop culture just as voraciously (if not more so) than we do, Americans often feel culturally inferior to those fancy-pants Euros.  Watching Eurovision will certainly leave many Americans with a smug sense of artistic superiority.
He's in a suit, so it's classy.

3. The lingua franca of Eurovision is English.  That is, the presenter, jury representatives, and many of the songs are in English.  Sometimes in very good English.  Sometimes in horribly mangled English.  This is funny.  It doesn't matter that the vast majority of Americans are shamefully monolingual.  It's still funny.

4. It's quite satisfying to have your secret stereotypes about various European countries confirmed vis a vis song and dance numbers.

5. It's educational.  Come on, tell me, did you really know that San Marino was a country?  I bet you didn't!  But if you watch Eurovision you might even be moved to figure out where Azerbaijan is, and how to spell it.

6. It often stirs up actual geopolitical news.  This year alone, the girl-girl kiss at the end of Finland's performance prompted Turkey not to air the show, and spurred outraged newspaper headlines in many conservative countries.  Also, Russia's Foreign Minister is demanding an investigation into the voting process over what he believes are stolen votes from former Soviet Republic Azerbaijan.  Seriously.

7.. This happened:

All this sounds like I'm encouraging Americans to watch Eurovision to mock it, but in all honesty, my love for Eurovision is completely unironic.  I don't think it's "so bad it's good" but rather that it's a hugely entertaining show with a mix of genuinely great songs and performances and yeah, a few cringeworthy segments.  Watching the video of last year's winning song, "Euphoria," I'm reminded how thrilling it can be when infectious techno-pop, strong vocals, sweet dance moves, and serious stagecraft all come together for a few glorious minutes while bringing a whole continent together (except for the boring straight guys).