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September 3, 2014 6:54 AM   Subscribe

During the late 1970s, the Warsaw Pact states had the Intervision Song Contest, an ideologically-sound Communist alternative to Eurovision, held in the Polish seaside resort of Sopot and attended by mostly Soviet-aligned and non-aligned states. The contest as such last ran in 1980; 1981's was cancelled due to the rise of Solidarność and the protests in nearby Gdańsk and it never returned as an international spectacle. But now, Russia is reviving the Intervision contest, after a 34-year gap.

The new Intervision contest will differ from the old one in a number of respects: former Warsaw Pact states such as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are unlikely to be participating. In their stead, the only currently confirmed participants are members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization: Russia, China and the central-Asian former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The move follows the result of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, in which Austria's entrant, bearded drag performer Conchita Wurst, won a runaway victory, largely seen as a rebuke to Russia's harsh anti-gay policies. The Eurovision result was roundly denounced in Russia's state-controlled and state-loyal media, with commentators calling for a “heterosexual alternative” to Eurovision, one more in line with the rising cult of the “Russkaya Ideya”.
posted by acb (31 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fun fact: the only country to participate in both Eurovision and Intervision was neutral, Russia-bordering Finland.
posted by acb at 6:57 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


UGH WHAT DICKS! I had Austria in our Eurovision fantasy draft; Conchita went pretty low in the draft based on the initial video but after the stage performance on the night we all agreed that it was a solid victory. It was an amazing performance and it's really awful that people are turning their backs on that. WTF "heterosexual alternative" why are people so bad?

Also, I might be a terrible person but, all the important international concerns and horrible homophobia aside, I'm really concerned that this means Belarus, one of my perennial favorites, won't be in regular Eurovision. This would make me really sad as I Love Belarus.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:14 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


Not going to be much of a spectacle with that attendance list. What if you threw a hate filled party and only six people showed up?
posted by arcticseal at 7:23 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


Fine Metafilter, if you insist I'll spend the rest of the morning listening to recent Eurovision entries from former Warsaw Pact countries/Soviet Republics that I love despite the songs sometimes being terrible.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:25 AM on September 3


Fun fact: the only country to participate in both Eurovision and Intervision was neutral, Russia-bordering Finland.

Because they foresaw the coming of LORDI.
posted by Etrigan at 7:25 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


Fine Metafilter, if you insist I'll spend the rest of the morning listening to recent Eurovision entries from former Warsaw Pact countries/Soviet Republics that I love despite the songs sometimes being terrible.

Um, that "terrible" link doesn't go to Slavic Girls (NSFW or, like, being an actual person) so I don't even know why you made this comment.

God I love that song even though it is TERRIBLE.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:30 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


The Russian leadership are steadily attempting to create a roughly Russian/Orthodox community bounded cultural scene in general. You can also see it in the Kremlin funding of various news sources in each country. Combined with the regulation of the internet, Russia is creating an alternate world view for Russians and Russian minorities in other states in general. It's an interesting attempt to create transnational ethnolinguistic identity again, it's been out of fashion since WWII since Western Europe was moving away from fascism and the USSR was explicitly attempting to replace ethnic based loyalty with Soviet ideals. It's like pre-1945 European politics all over again.
posted by jaduncan at 7:35 AM on September 3 [4 favorites]


Combined with the regulation of the internet, Russia is creating an alternate world view for Russians and Russian minorities in other states in general.

“The message (behind the closing of McDonalds in Russia) is clear and it’s not aimed at Americans, it’s aimed at us: the window to the world is closing.”
posted by acb at 7:41 AM on September 3 [3 favorites]


For those interested in what's happening in Russia, I recommend reading Calvert Journal. Whilst ostensibly a journal about “creative Russia” and the arts in Russia, a lot of stories are about the current political situation (state TV denouncing opposition figures, the restoration of Soviet-era institutions, increased censorship and propaganda, noncompliant business figures mysteriously resigning, and such), and even those which aren't are often coloured by the political climate, as they might be. It gives a good bottom-up perspective of the small details of the situation, in contrast with the more top-down analyses in places like Foreign Policy.

At times it feels a bit like Christopher Isherwood, or the “Night Watch” episodes of Babylon 5 or something.
posted by acb at 7:47 AM on September 3 [4 favorites]


What I find most worrying is that my Westernised Russian friends - some of whom are from families who fled during the Revolution, so are a few generations English already - are pro-Putin over the Ukraine and, well, everything. They have subscribed to that world, encompassing such mental dissonance I'm scared to ask them about it. Even if they do admit to bad things, it's the West's fault for driving Putin to such extremes to protect Russia.

And anyway, if Tuva isn't in Intervision, I'm not interested.
posted by Devonian at 7:52 AM on September 3


And anyway, if Tuva isn't in Intervision, I'm not interested.

That'd involve splitting up Russia into constituent ethnic republics, something that Putin would not be comfortable with. They're cracking down hard on anybody who even suggests the idea of, say, Siberia having more autonomy, so having different parts of Russia competing with their different ethnic traditions is unlikely to pass muster.
posted by acb at 7:59 AM on September 3


Fun fact: the only country to participate in both Eurovision and Intervision was neutral, Russia-bordering Finland.

Yugoslavia was also in both.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:00 AM on September 3


Update: Russia has actually canceled the Intervision contest for this October, but apparently plans to have it next year.

And despite their homophobic griping, Russia has confirmed they'll be taking part in Eurovision next year anyway.
posted by dnash at 8:30 AM on September 3


Ah, the Soviet nostalgia hits just keep on coming.
posted by kjs3 at 9:07 AM on September 3


This is now the second Time within a hundred Years that an Austrian Beard agonized Russia.
posted by homodigitalis at 9:15 AM on September 3 [3 favorites]


[T]ransnational ethnolinguistic identity [has] been out of fashion since WWII since Western Europe was moving away from fascism and the USSR was explicitly attempting to replace ethnic based loyalty with Soviet ideals. It's like pre-1945 European politics all over again.

I think that most global fundamentalisms have never entirely given up on this idea, though with varying degrees of success. This is interesting as the first one to achieve overt state sponsorship, though.
posted by kewb at 9:23 AM on September 3


Clearly, Russia wants to party like it's 1968 again. Along with all the nuclear weapons.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:37 AM on September 3


This is interesting as the first one to achieve overt state sponsorship, though.

I'd argue that both post-Orban Hungary and Israel do this (setting aside various bits of Africa and special cases like the Kurds), but for sure the first big power state. .
posted by jaduncan at 9:37 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


I'm reminded of this.
posted by kjs3 at 9:49 AM on September 3


Considering what's happened since the collapse of the Soviet Union -- the "shock therapy" obliteration of the Russian economy and the atomization of society globalization inevitably ushers in -- it's not really surprising what Russian culture has become. It sure is disappointing, though.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:54 AM on September 3


Clearly, Russia wants to party like it's 1968 again. Along with all the nuclear weapons.

1968 or 1938?

A commentator named Andrey Piontkovsky argues that Putin is calculating that the West is so averse to war that nuking a few non-first-tier European capitals will be enough to get NATO to retreat and hand over Latvia and Estonia (the reconquest of which, he also says, would be the bare minimum goal that would fit Putin's stated ambitions of taking back the “Russian World” and discrediting the US/Europe as powers) after a Russian invasion.

Anyone know who this Piontkovsky guy is? Is he a credible analyst, some kind of crank, or something in between?
posted by acb at 10:03 AM on September 3


Piontkovsky is a mathematician by training and a political activist by avocation. He's pretty credible, but he's also just a skoonch this side of blaming Vladimir Putin for his eggs being runny.
posted by Etrigan at 10:13 AM on September 3


He's pukka, but a pretty virulent opponent to Putin - his Wikipedia entry and his biog on Kasparov.ru (in Russian, but Google Translate makes a good fist of it).

I doubt that Putin is considering that nuking Amsterdam or Copenhagen could in any possible scenario end well for him, nor that he could invade Estonia without a conventional response from NATO. He could be thinking that way - Pinochet, Saddam, even Hitler, assumed that their logic was their opponents' logic - but there's no sign of NATO wanting to let him indulge such misunderstandings.
posted by Devonian at 10:27 AM on September 3


Anyone know who this Piontkovsky guy is? Is he a credible analyst, some kind of crank, or something in between?

A person who thinks that anyone is going to start chucking nukes over the Baltic states and/or Estonia can fairly be said to have spent too much time on the crack pipe or have a massive agenda. In this case it's a mix.
posted by jaduncan at 11:14 AM on September 3


Too bad it looks like Russia has already picked their entrant, this seemed like the perfect place to stage tATu's triumphant return.
posted by ckape at 11:32 AM on September 3


tATu already did - twice, at Eurovison 2003 and at the Winter Olympics no less!
posted by Middlemarch at 11:59 AM on September 3


For some reason I find the escalation of the East/West culture war to be a clear signal that Russia's power play is not a short term game. It's more than a little scary.
posted by lownote at 12:23 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


I hear the early favorite for Intervision 2015 is "You've Had Enough to Eat." Though "We're Not Invading, We're Just Lost" is an up-and-comer.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:31 PM on September 3


When I first read this post I thought the title of the contest was the Invasion Song Contest, and could only blink at the screen and think, 'Seems a strange way to go about admitting it...."
posted by aclevername at 12:39 PM on September 3


Maybe Putin can sing a shirtless duet with his horse.
posted by Vibrissae at 1:48 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


Clearly, Russia wants to party like it's 1968 again.

1975, maybe. They say 1970's nostalgia is huge in Russia right now, even among generations who weren't alive then.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:36 PM on September 3


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