Today is the big day – of the Eurovision Song Contest finale. Living in Vienna, I feel obliged to have at least one post about this big event that directs the attention of millions of viewers to Vienna. Even though I am not a passionate fan of ESC, I have been enjoying the atmosphere of positive excitement it has brought to the city.
The visitors, reporters, and participants are full of praise for the organizers. The naysayers and naggers stick to their roles and find plenty of things not to like, e.g. they complain about the political dimension of an event that is supposed to be pure entertainment. Others scream hypocrisy about Vienna holding up the banner of tolerance and diversity, while Austrian society is intolerant, racist, and reactionary at its core. Be that as it may, but let’s just say that life is a bit more complicated and there is more than one voice to a society. And the idea that entertainment is or even can be nonpolitical has been contested to say the least.
Above all, though, I am amazed by the dedication displayed by ESC fans. I took this photo early in the morning on Tuesday on my way to work, when the square in front of city hall (the main public viewing spot) was still empty. In the afternoon around 4 p.m. a sizeable crowd had gathered, even though the show didn’t start until 9 p.m. The fans’ commitment is even more impressive considering the nasty weather – apparently nice weather is the one thing the organizers failed to produce.