Monday, July 8, 2013

Semi-Seriousness: Feminism, And Why We Need Criticism (We Want It Or Not)

I consider myself a feminist in the sense of "men and women must have equallity"; unfortunely, it seems that the term has gained a negative connotation. Nowadays "feminism" or "feminist" brings imaginery of "reverse sexism", "femi-nazis", "misandrist" and on, and on. It is, most of the time, a caricaturization of the movement, but not without a point.

Just like there is still around plenty (way too many, if you ask me) men that keep holding ideas that shouldn't be considered seriously outside a 50's sitcom, there are people in the feminist movement that seem to think it's more important to bash one gender than holding the ideals of equallity. They make feminism look bad, and helped to create the stereotype that any feminist woman is nothing but a man-hating that just wants to complaing about society for the sake of complain and accepts no criticism whatsoever, as if feminism didn't had it difficult enough...

For a while, I've been watching a videoblog series called "Feminist Frequency", made by Canadian-American Anita Sarkessian. In her videos, she explores topics about female representation in the mass media, mostly videogames, but also other like cinema, toylines, etcetera.

I consider the series very interesting, and raises important points, even if I myself don't agree always with some of her opinions (I'd discuss of that in future posts). For now, I'd like to focus my attention about one simple topic: the supposedly lack of will to accept criticism.

When you watch her videos on Youtube, it won't take you too long to notice how the comments are disabled. To be fair, I sort of understood that the very first time I noticed it. Let's be honest, Youtube not exactly famous for being a place to hold well-funded, intelligent, rational and calmed debates. It seemed like a sad thing, tough, since I wanted to comment a thing or two and it was a shame that because a bunch of mysoginist assholes I was unabled to, but, as I stated above, I do saw why she did it.

However, just like her more controversial opinions, isn't exactly something I agree with.

We like it or not, we have to face criticism in our lives. This is even more true in the media, since, thanks to modern technology, we can hear anybody's voice about a work (a video, a book, a picture) we made. As an amateur trying-to-make-the-transition-to-pro-writer myself, I can tell you you will find comments, opinions and critics of all kinds: some of them would be rational, and well-meaning, but in other cases (in most cases, others would say) a lot of them would be just mean-spirited or just plain dumb.

Does that mean you should cast yourself away from the world? Well, as tempting as it sounds, the answer should be "no". In fact, getting a thicker skin is actually one of the hardest but most useful lessons we have to learn in life: to not break down for every bad word somebody says to you. When I was starting in the literature word, I got used to receive congratulations for every single piece of work I made, and then...the first bad critic, and I'm not gonna denying, I didn't exactly take it very well...

Yeah, that's...that's more or less the truth

And I wasn't a kid by then! That makes things even worse. But you know what? In the end, when I actually took my time to interpret those "awful" comments that hurt my feelings, I..learned that, if I have any serious aspiration to be professional, I'd have to deal with people that commit the most terrible of the Internet sins:  THEY WILL HAVE A DIFFERENT OPINION THAN ME!

Terrifying, isn't?

Even if they're just jerks with nothing better to do, I'll have to know how to take it because, they're not going anywhere! It's either somehow I just make dissapear every troll from this world, or I learn to take it seriously when I know it's serious and when NOT, and since the later is the only one option that seems sort of possible, that's how I'm gonna have to roll.

Where am I going with this? How is related to feminism and Anita? I'm not saying that she has to open the gates of hell (Youtube comments section) but that makes her look like if she seems to have a li'l problem taking criticism, good or bad. A ugly stereotype feminism gained unfairly. YES, there are what we could call "femi-nazis", but they're a very, tiny minority, and they just seems to be the "to-go" argument to discredit feminism in its complet shape. And she seems to be building a small fame of not wanting to deal with criticism and how the seems to just plain block any Facebook comment but the most prasing ones (even blocking one about how the videos could be improved) 

I don't know if she's the one in charge of the Facebook page or if it's from a fan, a collaborator, etc, and I'm not saying she DOES have a problem with oposition, but things seems to be pointing to that direction.

I completely understand if she's tired of idiots commenting sexist crap (hey, I'm a Jew in a mostly Catholic country. I heard "Jesus Killer" every once in a while) and why she doesn't want to give them a space, but not accepting comments, suggestions or critics just because some jerks would be like wanting to end with crime putting the whole population in jail. And it would be interesting (just like her videos; they're good, and raise good questions) to read and hear how she replies them.

And remember; you're free to comment. YES, I even take the insults.

Shalom comrades.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Headlines: X-Bone (Or "How To Piss Off Your Main Audience")

I'm gonna start by saying I'm not an avid gamer; I do play some titles from time to time, but this is not a medium I usually follow, and while this blog is focused on pop culture and videogames are truly a big, growing part of it, for most of the time I write more about books, television or films. Yes, you can call me a freshman (or, translated to gamer: "a noob") in this topic.

However you don't need to be a gamer to understand some basic points of manegement or...heck, just plain common sense.

Microsoft introduced in a big press conference its new game console: the X-Box One...and...for starters, that's probably one of the worst names they could came up for its product. As I understand, this is the third console they produce, after the original X-Box and the X-Box 360...I'm guessing here but I bet that the first one's usually called "X-Box one" just like little kids say they love fantasy literature since they read "Harry Potter 1", so naming this product that way leaves a sensation of...lack of progress.

But let's move on, because there's more...way more to it...

As I stated, I'm not a videogame expert, but I have owned consoles in the past; as time moved forward, I've seen new, exciting features: using Internet, watch movies either by DVD/Blu-Ray or stream services like Netflix, among other things. Yeah, those features are cool, but I could use my PC or a tablet for such stuff; they are something "extra", a li'l thing to spice up a product, and it's cool, but they're far from being the main reason to make a relatively expensive purchase.

And my wild guess is...maybe people buy videogame consoles know, the videogames.

In the press conference, the emphasis on games was...well, not zero, but surely it was not as much as expected: they presented all kind of supposedly cool features like integrated skype, TV stream services, really creepy: the console will need to be connected to Internet at least once a day in order to keep working, as a measure to fight against piracy.

You know, like parole!

"I just wanted to play Halo..."

But here is where things are turning really...weird: an always vigilante camera that apparently has the ability to record video...all the time.

"...In Microsoft, videogames watch you!"

I think I don't need to say that sounds really scary, and I don't wanna look paranoid, but an always-connected console that can see you anytime they want reminds me of...well...

...Meh, maybe it's just my imagination; this isn't like if Microsoft were a greedy, power-hungry company that wants to control every little thing their users do, right? I can always just cover the camera, there's no way they can control me that way...

...but yeah, turns out there is a way: remember when you were a kid and that rich friend of yours (or maybe not-really-a-friend-but-you-play-with-him-for-his-cool-toys) lend you that awesome game he already finished from beginning to end? Well, you won't be able to do that like...anymore.

Yeah, you can't lend your games, or even sell them once you're done with them without paying a fee to Microsoft. And this is not a standard small fee...we're talking about full prize, like if you were buying a new game, all over again.

Then, there's the fact that there's no backwards compatibility; what does that mean? That all those superb games for the previous console...are gonna stay in the console, since you won't be able to play with them in your new X-Box.

So far, we have very few focus on gaming and more in secondary features, extra fees that make no sense besides being a petty blatant moneygrab and all your beloved game library nulified...yeah, this shouldn't end well to Microsoft. And then an idea came to me: maybe they're withdrawing from videogames and focusing more in competing against other entretaiment services and products like Apple TV. That's...valid, I guess...

...but what isn't valid are the disatrous comments from Microsoft creative director Adam Orth, when he was questioned with all the criticism that, let's be honest, was waiting to happen. On his twitter account, this is what he replied about the idea of an always-connected console:

Alright...and here's another lovely gem about a question of the current state of Internet conections that, depending on where you live and your service provider, isn't always perfect.

"Those people should definitely get with the times and get the internet. It's awesome."

And more...

So, one thing is presenting a lousy product, but just plain insulting and condescending your hardcore, most loyal fans? Making fun of them in a very passive-agressive way because they're not that willing to be fucked by your practices and you thought they would be?

I'm sorry, I don't need to be an expert in the industry; I surely lack of knowledge of videogames, but I do know about marketing, public relations and about NOT PISSING OFF YOUR COSTUMERS! (and not mention the words for people of small communities). Damn it, at least they could, well, I don't wanna say "lie", but shout some "management talk" and try to not insult the ones that are your source of income.

Heck, this was so freakinly bad, that Microsoft rivals have actually improved their a large margin! It seems like they seems to forget they want to sell the X-Box instead of the Wii U.

It is early to tell we're going to see the end of Microsoft consone, we have to wait and see a lot more of information...but the idea of a dumbass being so offensive to their customers...I...I...have no fucking words for it! I went to Marketing school! That was like "Business 101"! BE NICE WITH YOUR AUDIENCE!

Shalom comrades.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Obsessing About It: The Rise Of New Animation

Last time we talked about animated show, I made the point that the one that's supposed to be adult-oriented seems to be in decay; I explained some reasons about the phenomenon...but now, it's time to deal with the other half of the issue.

Are children cartoons in the dawn of a new golden age?

Hold your horses Mabel...

I'm what you could call a "90's kid"; I remember watching Animaniacs, Batman The Animated Series, Tiny Toons and Pepper Ann; from time to time, I still have the chance to watch some of those shows again on a re-run or on the Internet to put at test how much of my love for such animated shows is nostalgia and how much is because they're truly quality entrainment. To my surprise, cartoons like the ones I mentioned before truly have passed the test of time.

 Even if sometimes, their references are so 90's it hurts...NOT! (If you were a 90's kid, you probably
understand where that came from)

Not all series are that fortunate: for each series with a good quality control system, there were others that it's better not to remember and let them rest in the peace of Internet anonymity

Who am I kidding? There's no such thing...besides, that series sucked.

However, many of my generation peers are not afraid to claim that there was nothing like the old Cartoon Network, the old Nickelodeon, the old Disney Channel, and how much better the 90's shows are than the ones we have today. While it is true that there's a lot of crap nowadays...

Seriously, who watches that shit?

...there are plenty of shows that, to be fair, I wouldn't be afraid to call not only good, but actually superior that what we had back in the day. Not always tough, but...G'd dammit, sometimes I am very surprised by how sophisticated modern kids cartoons can get, I mean never thought the story of a cursed human and a half-demon, half-vampire girl could touch my heart...

I'm not crying! YOU ARE CRYING! T.T

If we see the premises and plots of modern cartoons...well, yeah, they're crazy. Of course, being this the world of animation, isn't strange to see shows with crackpot insane stories and concepts, but even taking that in count, modern animation can turn really weird, really fast, even by standards of the medium.

Yeah, yeah: a bluejay, a raccoon, the son/daugther of Frankstein and a ghost just hanging around...

But unlike adult shows, those samples of weirdness seems to lead to something: there is an attempt to build a plot, character development, a tone; in all their craziness, they make sense by the rules of their internal worlds. It seems to work with no problem.


Because some simple truth; so simple, it's hard to not ignore it from time to time, distracted by other factors. Which is that simple truth?

The writers and the authors take their shows seriously, with a very personal vision of what they want to produce.

Now, I'm not saying that authors from previous years didn't take their job as seriously as they should; animation is famous for having very passionate people, struggling to make their works famous and well-known, sometimes betting against all odds and all predictions of failure.

Yep, this has been the story of the medium for a long time

But I'm talking about something slighty different: the rise of what I like to call, the "auteur animated series". Of course, by its own nature, having a single person writing a TV show, animated or not, it's pretty much impossible, but that doesn't mean it can have the personal creative vision of the creator. Nowadays, that seems to be, if now the "standard", at least studios are more open to give freedom.

Because let's be honest, when I heard about "Gravity Falls", I just couldn't believe that show was on freakin' Disney Channel. Is not that there's no child-friendly content in the show, it is's hard to think what executive greenlighted something like this.

By the channel who brought you "A Dog With a Blog"...

While names like Alex Hirsch, Pendleton Ward, Lauren Faust, Brian Konietzko, Michael Dante DiMartino and Dan Mandel aren't exactly mainstream (let's be honest here: outside of Disney, and probably someone like Chuck Jones or Tex Avery, no names from animation make its way to the memory of the general audiences), they are surely more famous and well-respected among animation fans than, let's say, Seth McFarlane. Add to this recipe executives that, while still tied to commercial principles (that's just not going to change ever), seem to be at least more savvy with the fans, and understand that taking one risk or two doesn't harm their products. In any case, just improves its image.

There are things they're still not ready for, though

It's hard to tell if this is the dawn of a real new Golden Age for the medium, or, if that's the case, how long it's gonna last (sine unfortunely, whether we like it or not, all things, as good as they are, must come to an end), but at least I can tell you that while I do recognize the 90's cartoons and I understand the spirit of the nostalgia, the idea that the shows from that era were superior to what you can see today is completely bullshit, made by people who just doesn't seems to watch a lot of modern animated shows.

In any case, animation fans of all decades should be united against bigger enemies, like this one (because if you think the live action series CN and Disney Channel are crap, you should take a look south of the border).

If you have laughed at this show, you may be a retarded!

Shalom comrades.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Headlines: Time Magazine Yells At Cloud

So, the Internet has been pretty busy with the controversy created by Joel Stein's article for Time Magazine about how the Millenial Generation (rougly, the people born in the early 80's to the mid 90's) is narcissist, lazy and entitled.

The reaction of the new media has been incredible: there we have it, a 41 years old man making such declarations about a whole generations of individuals who are living through one of the most complicated economic times in recent history woulnd't exactly pass unnoted, especially by a generation that domains and feels at home in the modern social plataforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Acussations were made: the article was either stupid because Time would be insulting one growing segment of buyers and consumers, or just plain insensitive to the reality of millions and millions around America (and hell: the majority of the Western world) that want a better job and want to achieve more in life but aren't in the best position to do it so due to high rates of unemployement...I'm not here to discuss that (it has been discussed enough by other, way better writers than me).

What I want to talk about is how, a journalist (an educated person), a member of the generation X could make such a big mistake: complain about how today kids are.

Bear with me, and see this funny experiment, because all those claims about how the youngers are lazy and self-absorbed are far from being something new. See this next Life magazine:

What's so special about it? It talked about the supposedly differences between the younger generation and the grown ups: among them, how these kids were lazy, unable to make a living and narcissists. The date of the magazine? May 17, 1968.

But that's far from the only one; meet, as Newsweek called it, the "Video Generation" (sounds lame, isn't?)

Just like their fashion sense

And on it talked about...yeah, the narcissism of this generation, willing to video-record every single banal thing crossing on their lives.

Moving to the 90's, we had...

An article about...guess what? How the Gen X was made almost completely by screwups, more "willing to hike the Himalaya" than in "climbing the corporate ladder".

Every generation in turn has been labeled that, all those undesirible traits those publications described...could it be that is just older people forgetting how they behaved when they were our age? Or even funnier: maybe it has less to do with some generation in specific, and more with all youngsters of all ages?

As I read in a remote corner of the Internet: "As long as there's 20 somethings, there will be hipsters".

So, Mr. Stein; please, think more your words before you yell at that creepy cloud in the sky.

Shalom comrades.

Obsessing About It: Are Adult Oriented Cartoons In Decline?

It wouldn't be a big, shocking secret if I reveal that, despite of my age, I still watch cartoons, just like 86% of the Internet (citation requiered); somehow, I never truly grew up that phase, probably because I've always seen animation as something more than just entretament: I used to draw a lot when I was a kid and I still do it to some degree today.

Now, cartoons for adults aren't exactly something new: I grew up with The Simpsons since way before I was supposed to watch them, but in a funny paradox, most of the grown up animation enthusiasts don't watch adult animation shows: the ones they watch are supposedly child-oriented stuff, like...

This is awesome

Even awesomer

And of course...

I'd insert a joke, but making fun of this series by now it's like beating a dead horse...hehehe, dead horse...GET IT?!

That doesn't mean they don't like older stuff; my friends still watch other kind of shows: The Walking Dead, Glee, Community...more "conventional" series that you would expect being in the taste of young adults. But it is funny how the crude, Seth Macferlanesque school of animated comedy isn't specially well-liked by them.

But someone has to watch those shows, I mean, they're still hits...who watches them? Well, on my personal experience, the ones devoted to those TV programs

So, we have this scenario where the childish animated shows are followed by grown ups and the adult oriented are followed by kids and the heck this happened?

Of course, I'm over-generalizing here, but it's a trend surely I've noticed: the younger ones love the stuff aimed to the older crowd because...why?

One of my favorite phrases is "There's nothing more inmature that trying to act like an adult", and I see the point: I remember when I was a young child and I was wishing nothing but grow fast, being older and independent, free to do what I wanted to do.

Yeah, that was the idea...

And then, I became an actual adult, and I had to deal with the reality: it turned out I wasn't as independent since I was chained to old debts nor truly free because I had bosses, and responsabilities, and bills, and stress.

Luckily, I'm not bold...yet

And from time to time (some days more than it's healthy) I look back at the past, and while I'm aware my childhood was far from perfect, now it doesn't look that bad...being at my age is scary as shit, since you're on your own, you're supposedly to make it yourself, everybody expects so much of you, or at least, they expect to put your shit together and don't be a failure.

Yeah, with that in count (because I'm sure I'm far from being the only one from my age who has to deal with situations like that), aren't then the enjoyment of these colourful, bright cartoons some form of escapism? Of course, you can make the case that the point of fiction is escapism itself. Is it some sort of nostalgia for a more innocent time?

That may be one reason...but not the main reason...

Just look how innocent modern cartoons look like

First of all, let's see some of the adult animated shows: we've got The Simpsons that is reaching its 882th season, we've got two shows from Seth MacFarlane (since "The Cleveland Show" was, as some would say, mercifuly canceled), there's South Park too, and the rookie of the team in the form of "Bob's Burgers". What do those series have in common? With the exception of South Park, they're all black comedies about the struggle middle-class families.

I don't see any genre of fiction and/or media as inherently bad (except of course, child porn), but I do know that you can only exploit a style until it becomes a cliché, and mainstream adult animated shows are trapped in the same formula: high on shock factor, heavy on pop culture references, and very family-centric. Is it a problem? It shouldn't be, but it is.

The generation that originally grew up with The Simpson are now authors and creators on their own, and of course, they'll try to mimic what they liked it; there's nothing wrong with that, the problem IS when they miss the point of what made that series so great: when they read "Black Humor", they seem to over-read BLACK, and forget the part of "humor": Most of those current animated shows rely too much on the shock factor, to insult, to impress...comedy that only frat boys and 8 years old kids would find amusing because they just discover the words "pee" and "dick".

In picture: the writers of "Meet The Spartans", "Epic Movie" and "New Girl"

The Simpsons were big in the 90's because the writers knew the art of crafting and put together creative, edgy plot lines, black humor and memorable characters with strong, well-defined personalities. But nowadays, authors (at least, in mainstream TV) have forgotten about almost every other detail but "try to be as disgusting and gross as possible".

The Simpsons at least had the decency of build a plot, a story; then they started their non-sense, and we were cool with that. Family Guy doesn't even to put that minimum effort and respect for their audience.

Not that their audience deserves a lot of respect anyway, but still...

So, you combine the same model made once and again (even Bob's Burgers, a series that I do respect to a little degree for at least trying to build plots) and a minimun effort in story-making in favor of fast-speed pop culture jokes, and you got why the modern crop of adult animated shows are so unnapealing for animation fans. It is more or less the same scenario when people claim "The Big Bang Theory" is well-liked by the mainstream public, but relatively ignored (or even despised) by those who you could consider "nerds" (including me).

But there's still a question: those more child-oriented shows deserve their praise? Not that I'm saying it's annormal for an adult to watch child's cartoons (I'll be a huge hypocrite if I even suggested that), but we'll answer that the next time...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Bechdel Test (Or "So You Want To Write Female Characters?")

This is an interesting concept: it's sort of a litmus test for the representation of female characters in media. You see, this test (born on the webcomic "Dykes To Watch Out For", proving once again that no
webcomic will be seen soon in your newspaper, if newspaper are able tu survive nowadays, anyway) works like this:

* Your movie must have at least two female characters (Some argue that they should be NAMED characters; not just some background girl that held a little chat with one of the protagonists)

* Who have at least ONE conversation

* About something other than men, love and/or romance.

It seems easy, isn't? should be that way, at least, but that's kind of the point: once you apply the test
for some of the highest profile films of all time, it's surprising (and a li'l bit scary) see how many of these movies fail. It's not hard to understand why some classic films from other eras are unable to pass it (since, you know, all the sexism-thing) but it becomes really impressive and sad the more you advance in time, since
modern media are still struggling to make a fair representation of women.

Now, I want to make this clear: the fact that a movie fails the test doesn't mean isn't feminist, or that it's a bad movie, for that matter. Great films with awesome heroines like "Alien" don't pass it, yet, traditionalist, ol' fashioned in gender stereotypes ones like "The Sleeping Beauty" or "Cinderella" DO.

I actually admire Disney but..she won't be the face of feminism any time soon, isn't she?

And the point isn't to force female characters where shouldn't be logical or accurate (like a war film scenario where and when only men were allowed to be). Heck, maybe you could say that this isn't really against an individual level. Several of my favorite movies fail this little test, yet, while I do acknolewedge the need of change, that doesn't mean I can still apreciate the stories I know and love.

You're safe, Toto and had me at...well, the whole FREAKIN' PLOT *-*

However, it does say something about us and we way we produce and perceive media. The fact that the great majority of movies can't success on such a (aparently) simple criteria isn't a criticism against one or two of them, but as the media as a whole. Why it is so hard for writers, directors and producers? It's hard do point out a single cause, since usually the fiction a society produces is a reflection of that society.

For the better or the worse...

It is true that there have been really great advances in gender equality , and that we're surely improving day by day, month by month, year by year, yet there's still plenty of work to do, as much in real life as in fiction. It seems that the old school "machismo" is mostly gone, but instead of having true balance, we're dealing now with some sort of "soft sexism": one concept that doesn't deny the fact that female characters exist and are competent, but still makes them "peripherical" to men and his interests and pursuits instead of follow the ones they really want.

But I don't want to sound too extreme or too political. I, for one, an amateur writer (trying to make my way to professionalism), applied the test for my own work. One of my books, "El Club de Hopewell" (The Hopewell Club; a teen comedy) passed the test...the other one, "Conozcan a Josh" (Meet Josh; about the life of a former child star), did not. I think the best way to deal with female characters is...not to make a big deal: you know, threat them and write them with her own dreams, fears, strenghts and (wait for it), ANY OTHER CHARACTER.

We'll see more of female archetypes in the near future. For now, go, think on your favorite films, and put them to the test...let's see how many of them succeed.

Shalom comrades.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The 6 Craziest Stories About The Eurovision Song Contest

For Americans, it is mostly an unknown event. The only thing they probably know about it is the fact that ABBA won the contest back in the 70's and that that Italian song "Volaré" came from it.

Wedding receptions wouldn't be the same today

But the Eurovision Song Contest it's a longstanding tradition in the Old Continent, celebrating this year of 2013 its 58th edition. It surely has something to show: a opportunity to showcast artists and bands from small nations that wouldn't have any other chance to make their music known for a huge audience, the "national pride" factor, with competing countries trying their best to claim the victory and the glory...

...well, that's how should be...however, the Eurovision contest is well known for its randomess, kistch factor and a number of oddities could make you question the continent's sanity. Take that in mind next time you complain about some gimmick in American Idol or The Voice. And since Eurovision's coming soon, I'll give you the 6 craziest stories about such an event.


Just like any other television musical contest, the audience can vote for their favorites. In Eurovision, you can vote for any act you like but the one from your nation. Makes sense, right? And in a perfect world, you are able to vote for anyone from any country and don't fall in silly nationalism.

Europeans have a bad record on that nationalism thing

Alright, that was a bad, unfair example, since we all know Europe today is mostly a pacific, quiet place to live. However, not everything can be perfect, and let's not forget that some nations have smoother relations than others.

Like the case of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Who's the best Transcaucasian post-Soviet nation? SAY IY! Who's the best Transcaucasian post-Soviet nation!

In the 2009 edition, a controversy sparked when Azerbaijan's authorities conducted interrogatories to several fans of the contest. The reason? They wanted to know why did they vote for Azerbaijan's greatest enemy, Armenia.

Since it very likely the average reader of...well, the average reader of almost every English language website aren't aware of the situation (or for that matter, where in the world these countries are located), here's a brief explanation:  these two Caucasican nations have been in a territorial dispute from a few years now that even scalated to an armed conflict between them in a couple of times, the first in 1917 and the next one in 1988 to 1994.

Making it oficially longer that the grunge style

And that's not counting the several other tensions (not always ending in war) between them.

Being rivals, the contest in those two lands had taken a very politicized and sometimes, hostile tone. It's not only about the music, nor the artists: it's about national pride, it's about try to win over the other, of if it can't be possible, about not ending as bad at the results as the enemy.

One can understand diplomatic tensions; International politics are a hard topic after all. However, one can't stop thinking that maybe the Azerbaijani goverment (try to say it as fast as you can) overreacted a li'l. Can you imagine something similar happening in America? Can you imagine the NYPD trying to prosecute people that voted for the Bostonian singer in "The Voice"?

In sports, on the other hand, it wouldn't be so surprising

The relations between those countries still cold as the Artic. In 2012, Azerbaijan hosted the contest, making Armenia took the choice of withdrawing that year from the event, since while it was said that there were guarantees for the security of the Armenian delegation.

"No! It will be fine! And please, come alone!"


Many protest songs are famous either for its criticism to the status quo and their smart yet accesible observations of whatever it is wrong with the country, or for being pretentious, smug and at times, just not being very good.

Not everybody's meant to follow the steps of Bob Dylan...

But a song actually has a merit that white kids with guitars and Che Guevara shirts can only dream about: actually have influente in the end of an authoritarian regime.

The Portuguese song "E Depois Do Adeus" (After The Farewell) was one of the signs to launch a movement against the right-wing regime of the time. 

The Belgium song was also the sign for the rise of a guerrilla group whose members were kittens, but that's another story


One of the problem the Eurovision Song Contest has faced in the last years was the bloc-voting: countries from a same region (former USSR nations, former Yugoslav republics) tend to vote for each other, giving few points to any outsider, or no points at all. The Western nations, outnumbered by the Eastern contestants, have been the more affected and it lead to the point the voting system was partially changed.

But before that was even considered as an option, but participant from Ireland was not afraid to make his voice be heard and dennounce the injustice in the event.

The participant was Dustin the Turkey...a puppet. You have to see it to believe it.

Still better than last Nickelback's single

And if you think this character's a joke...let me tell you he's a respected celebrity on his homeland, or as it says on his profile: "A multi-talented Turkey, Dustin has enjoyed considerable chart success in Ireland and has released six albums and twelve singles. He’s had numerous number ones and has sung with Bob Geldof, Chris De Burgh, Boyzone and Irish Showband legend Joe Dolan to name but a few and has had Irish sales in excess of 25 times platinum."

Still not as big as "Kevin O'Malley McDoherty and His Band Of Leprechauns"

* GRANNIE LOVES YOU (AND EUROPE LOVES GRANNIES) think American Idol can get manipulative with your emotions for a sad history about how Alaina was about to lose her home or Jeremy's doctors told him he would never be able to speak, let alone sing? Well, it is true: it's manipulative, however, prepare to meet an even more manipulative act...Russian style.

Here I bring you Buranovo Bubashki...or..."The grannies from Buranovo".

Still better, this is really shitty...

A troupe of eldery women singing in (barely) English that somehow, maneged to earn a second place in the 2012 contest. For some unknown reason...

...oh, let's be honest, we all know why. I have a granny, just like everybody, and if she was the one singing in front of a continental audience, I'll be the first one clapping (after rubbing my eyes and pinching myself to make sure I'm not in some kind of bizarre nightmare).

And a couple of shots of this


And back to Azerbaijan...

The country that keeps giving!

In 2012 the contest was held in that nation. It was the very first time the event took place in that exotic location, and such a big competition it's good way to promote its image for a huge international market. The caucasian republic tried their best to look good in front of the cameras, and they did it fairy well for the most part.

All they needed was to showcase food (Americans love food)

However, a colourful stage and smart tourism marketing wasn't enough to overshadow a li'l tiny problem...its record on human rights.

I would insert a joke here, but seriously, if you haven't noticed it: human rights violations are BAD, mmmkay?

And then we've got terrorism. Now, it's a ugly stereotype the idea that every muslim nation either sponsor this horrible activity or has problems with it, but then again, we have this little case: Azeri law-enforcement officials killed two members of the armed group,and arrested 40 more; these rebels have links to insurgents in the Dagestan region of neighboring Russia (at least, according to the government version of the story)

The group's idea was to detonate explosives at Crystal Hall in Baku during the Eurovision contest, since these dicks apparently saw it as Western and gay propaganda.

And to be fair, I kind of see where they coming from


Two things you probably didn't know about Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco: a) He's still dead, and b) He kind of cheated to make his country win in the 1968 contest.

You came kind of late, Chevy

Alright, you probably did know the first fact, but the second, here it comes.

A documentary filmmaker revealed that Spain's only ever Eurovision win was down to behind the scenes negotiations by television executives from Spain's state run channel.

And I sort of see why Spain hasn't won again...

It's kind of petty for a it really that important? To win in a campy, kistchy, ol'fashioned, out of touch with the reality contest?

Next time, Iran authorities will try to rig the Academy Awards