Religion

Arockalypse Now

I’m torn.

On the one hand, I hold a nearly otherworldly disdain for a lot of pop culture crap, like reality shows, Dan Brown novels, and blogs (. . .). On the other hand, I enjoy seeing fundamentalists get worked into a tizzy. So how am I supposed to feel about the fact that Lordi just won Eurovision? I believe I’ll have to go with “bemused.”

I know a number of American readers are a little puzzled, so allow me to explain. Eurovision is a show similar to American Idol but without all the musical integrity. Each European country sends a “musician” to compete with one song, and then they all put their heads together to figure out which song is the most likely to attach itself to your inner ear like that bug thing in that Star Trek movie.

This year, perrenial loser Finland sent a Gwar-like rock band to represent the country; if the story of their unlikely win gets any publicity here in America, the result may be thousands of school children who suddenly realize that Finland is not the capital of Sweden.

Now, how to describe Lordi? Imagine what it would be like if the boy group Hansen got a gift certificate to the seasonal Halloween shop that opens every October at the mall. No, no, the run-down strip mall on the highway. Okay, now imagine that Hansen waits until November to spend the gift certificate so they can get the leftover decorations nobody else wanted at 90% off. Got it? Okay, the oldest Hansen brother hits puberty and affects a scary, low growl. That’s Lordi.

Lordi chose to perform their song “Hard Rock Hallelujah” for all the continent to appreciate. The lyrics include references to some sort of “Arockalypse,” as well as a “Day of Rockening” that may or may not be related. Clearly, this is songwriting deserving of the highest honors. Bob Dylan is sitting at home reading the paper when he smacks himself on the forehead and says, “Arockalypse! I can’t believe I didn’t think of that first.” Other lyrics include “Wings on my back/I got horns on my head/my fangs are sharp/and my eyes are red,” which I’m sure is a tribute to Chilly Willy the Penguin (“I’m Chilly Willy the penguin. I shake until I’m blue. My head is hot and my feet are cold. Ah-ee-achoo!”)

The reason why I’m enjoying Lordi’s win is because they really freaked out the fundies. A group in Greece (where the contest was held) petitioned the president of Finland to stop the band from performing, which came as a real shock to everyone here in America, who all just assumed Finland had a king or a mayor or something. Finnish church groups were equally angry at the idea of “Satan worshippers” being allowed to represent them — as though Lordi will be sitting between representatives from Peru and Tanzania on the UN Security Council or something.

Don’t these religious fanatics already think all music is a tool of the devil? And for that matter, television? And where does Greece get off playing the taste card? Do they have any idea what sort of perverted acts they inspired centuries before the lead singer of Lordi pulled his first set of plastic vampire teeth out of a goodie bag? And do none of them realize that they’re the only ones taking seriously a bunch of guys who (according to the warning tags on their stage costumes) can’t safely cross the street without holding a parent or guardian’s hand?

As much as I enjoy the minor uproar Lordi has caused amongst the religious crazies, I don’t think I’ll be buying their next album. At least not until one of their members finally lives up to his own rubber costume and tears out the throat of the UK’s Eurovision entry, a white man in his late thirties rapping about being a teenager. That’s just sick and wrong.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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4 Comments

  1. Since I grew old enough to think for myself I've only watched the Eurovision Song Contest, or Melodi Grand Prix as it's called in Norway, if I was a) invited to a Grand Prix party (they're fun) or b) accidentally visiting my parents. This Saturday was a b, so I saw the whole thing, and as an actual European I have to make a few clarifications:

    1. The ESC used to be cool, but that's at least 20 years ago.

    2. Back then there were juries in each country, now it's all televoting, with predictable results.

    3. Among the predictable results: Cyprus and Greece always give each other 12 points (Each country gives points to 10 songs, 1-8 points, 10 points and 12 points. You can't vote for your own country, unless you've got an extra country to vote from.) Andorra gives 12 points to Spain. All the Balkanites vote for each other. All the former soviet republics vote for each other. Germany always gives 12 points to Turkey. The Nordic countries vote for each other, and stinge on the points for Norway.

    4. All the newly "European" countries of the eastern block consider things like the EU, the Eurovision and pop music the greatest thing since bread on the shop shelves. Everyone else thinks the ESC is a joke. Great Britain probably wouldn't even send a song, but since they and three other major funders of the Eurovision automatically qualify, they do anyway.

    5. Among the Runners up in this year contest: We are the winners of Eurovision. The Lithuanian contribution, with that title, and lyrics consisting of that line and "Vote, vote, vote for the winners", came in _fifth_ of 24 songs.

  2. I don't know what's most amazing, that someoen in the US knows (and blogs about) the Eurovision song contest (or "melodifestivalen" as we called it in Sweden, rather than ESC as we call it here in the UK) or that Finland (I mean, come on, FINLAND) won.

    It's things like this that warms the cold depths of my marble heart (but I imagine Rebecca will spoil it, claiming she watches it for work).

  3. Well, I rather liked O-Zone's "Dragoste din Tei," from a few years ago; But that's only cos my family was from Transylvania.

    I say we should try entering our Rebecca into next year's contest with the theme song to "Chilly Willy the Penguin."

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