I am an American, and was thus genetically disposed to like Waylon’s song. And I did! There was something comforting and familiar about it. It was something I could image playing over the loudspeakers in between innings at a baseball game, or being used to advertise a clearance sale on Toyota pickups. I genuinely liked this song, at the same time as I recognised all of its shortcomings.
And then Waylon released the staging.
Let me just say that if Waylon’s decided to celebrate America, he’s chosen to highlight our horrific racial relations. What’s out here has uncomfortable racial dynamics – a white man elevated on a platform while black backup dancers, clad in ‘gangster’ coded clothing, gyrate wildly around him.
When the reasons why this might be problematic were pointed out to the Netherlands, they fell back on the “Some of my best friends are black” defense, noting that they were the first country to send a black contestant to Eurovision, and that the dancers were all chosen because they were the most talented at krumping. Nowhere did anyone stop to justify why krumping was critical to the performance of this country and western song – especially because krumping had its heyday about a decade ago.
So please, please, please – go to the bathroom and miss this. Switch to YouTube and watch a recording of Waylon’s last foray into Eurovision as part of the Common Linnets. Just don’t give this any more attention than it deserves.