Eurovision Glory Meets Brexit Britain
Pauline Blanchet and Isis Menteth Wheelwright explore how Eurovision 2023 is putting the grim reality of post-Brexit Britain into the spotlight
Every year, more than 150 million people turn on their TVs to watch Eurovision, making it the most watched non-sporting event globally. Britons love it, (or love to hate it), for its camp, over-the-top spectacle; a fantasy of Europe where countries perform their unique identities, and interact with one another through the cultural language of song. This is why Eurovision 2023 will be deeply intriguing; Europe’s agent provocateur – the UK – will be hosting an event based on the values of European integration, post-Brexit.
As the contest approaches, Britain has a peculiar global standing. After a year of three Prime Ministers, the UK has crowned a new monarch, while grappling with a cost of living crisis. Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak’s government erodes LGBTQ+ rights via its pursuit of “culture war” politics, and continues to dismantle the rights of refugees.
Against this backdrop, the BBC will be promoting Eurovision’s official values of ‘inclusivity, diversity and unity’, as they deliver on this year's official slogan, “United by Music”. Add to the mix the fact that Eurovision 2023 is held on behalf of a besieged Ukraine, and a complex picture emerges full of contradictions along many social and political lines.
Eurovision has always provided a stage for the fantasy of national identities to be performed. It is a unique cultural avenue for soft power relations to be enacted. But what type of fantasy will be constructed about the UK this May, as Brexit Britain is plunged into the spotlight?
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Byline Supplement to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.