The fascination that surrounds the Eurovision Song Contest never ceases to astound. This past year saw Germany’s entrant Ann Sophie come in dead last with 0 points. Something had to be done. So German public broadcaster ARD made some changes. Instead of letting the viewing public pick Germany’s entrant by voting, it decided to choose Germany’s contestant without any input. That was its first mistake. Its second mistake was not telling anyone that it was going to do this. And its third mistake was picking the well-known singer but problematic public figure Xavier Nadoo.
Nadoo is no stranger to controversy, as this Deutsche Welle story explains:
It’s not his songs, but some of Naidoo’s statements that are of greater dispute. Statements like “Germany is not a sovereign state but is still occupied by allies from World War II” appeal to the self-styled “Reichsbürger,” who deny the existence of the Federal Republic of Germany and only accept the legal authority of the German Empire. These and other right-wing associations celebrate the soul singer and use him for their propaganda. Populists and anti-Semites rejoiced over his song “Raus aus dem Reichstag” (Get Out of the Reichstag).
But ARD stuck by its choice of the singer – until it didn’t. Two days after announcing the choice, ARD reversed course, as reported here by Deutsche Welle:
It was obvious that he is a person who polarizes, but the vehemence of the reactions surprised us. We have misjudged the issue.
The Eurovision Song Contest itself is really just simple-minded entertainment that often celebrates the tackiest aspects of the European popular music industry. It’s nevertheless ironic how often this song contest can hit a false note. ARD’s tone deafness regarding issues of inclusion and multiculturalism, coming less than a week after the attacks in Paris, should provide future Eurovision planners a master class in how not to get publicity for the event.