Complacent stereotypes

It all came back to us. We dragged it out from our store of stereotypes to put an ideological spin on an event that belongs to the sphere of the market and spectacle. It all came back to us – that we are a «brother-less nation» (it matters little whether this was heard on a state channel or trash TV, as the state television networks treated the Eurovision song contest as a major national event). It all came back to us: the Cold War language, the Iron Curtain and the anti-Greek conspiracies – which are as obvious to us as the fact that the sun rises in the East. As Albania began giving the lower points to other countries, we made snide remarks. But when they gave us top marks, we bit our tongues. The only thing that did not came back to us was geography. So we ruled that the Baltic states were «favoring their Ukrainian neighbors.» The EU is under transformation but only our grief could forge border shifts of that magnitude. What grief? Grief for the fact that the performance was not the sure victory we had expected. The fact that the national campaign – which had been supported by mayors, ministers, party leaders, church officials, TV channels, newspapers and radio stations – did not pay off. Given our inability to accept a draw as soccer fans, how could we possibly stand third place as a nation? «Rip-off!» cried out the experts on specialized TV shows. «Rip-off!» cried the tabloids. «Rip-off» and «conspiracy» – which was the only tolerable explanation, the only possible comfort to our grief and wounded pride. All this would have been trivial had we not rested our national dreams on a four-minute song and dance show – the product of a market-oriented homogenized mixture. All this would have been trivial, had we not been constantly repeating a complacent stereotype: «We are the best in Europe» – it’s just that some are plotting against us. When we learn to lose, then we may also learn to win.

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