It is Eurovision Time. This year is a little different because it will be held in authoritarian Azerbaijan.
May 14, 2012 2:01 PM   Subscribe

Metafilter loves Eurovision. And who doesn't? It is campy silly fun. But this year, Azerbaijan is hosting. Can this annual celebration of pop still be a good time when the host country is a dictatorship?

In the past decade, many post-Soviet states have joined Eurovision and the contest has changed.

While Western and Northern Europeans view it as a joke (although with a strong preteen and gay following), the post-Soviet states see the competition as a matter of national pride.

Last year, newcomer Azerbaijan spent a great deal of money on a catchy pop song produced by famous Swedish pop producers and won.

Azerbaijan is a Muslim petrostate that has grown more authoritarian each year. (Long summaries here [full disclosure, I am the author of one of the chapters of this book], short summary here).

Azerbaijan has spent over $700 billion to prepare for the competition, with much of the construction funds benefiting the president's family. Hundreds of families were forcibly evicted from their homes to make room for Eurovision infrastructure.

ask why or are drawing attention to a [full disclosure I am a co-author on this piece] country with such a bad human rights record and lack of media freedom is allowed to host the event.

The German media's critiques of this behavior have angered Azerbaijan. In the past week, the British papers have started to post similar articles. (Linked above.)

Many questions remain - will any of the Eurovision viewers care? Will this have any effect on the human rights situation? How will visiting LGBT Eurovision fans be treated?
posted by k8t (5 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: I'm not sure what "You can't link to your own stuff" is at all unclear. Super duper not okay. -- jessamyn

I apologize for the self-links. However, being one of the few academics that researches this country has 1) made my research area hot in a public way and 2) made my previous documented Eurovision fandom actually useful.
posted by k8t at 2:03 PM on May 14, 2012

It was held in Spain during the Franco regime.
posted by Flood at 2:06 PM on May 14, 2012

In before possible deletion, although in this case I think it's a case of a good post that would be swept up by a generally good ban on self-linking. It's a tricky one, going to MeTa.
posted by jaduncan at 2:07 PM on May 14, 2012

Unfortunately there isn't that much currently written in English on this country that I don't touch somehow. :(
posted by k8t at 2:08 PM on May 14, 2012

Seems like it's $700 million, not $700 billion...which is really another animal. $700 billion would be 14 times the Azeri GDP.
posted by Amplify at 2:10 PM on May 14, 2012

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