This year’s Benidorm Fest caused social interest only comparable to the expectation generated by Rosa in 2002, since then this country had never been so excited about the idea of winning Eurovision. Among the favorites were Rigoberta Bandini, with a groundbreaking and openly feminist song, and, on the other hand, Tanxugueiras which, in addition to being a female group, reflected the linguistic diversity of Spain by defending a song in Galician. Let’s not forget that Masiel ended up in Eurovision after Joan Manuel Serrat refused to sing in Spanish.
The Festival’s complex election system led Chanel to victory, making her the representative of Spain in Eurovision amid critics who understood that the legitimate representatives were the Tanxugueiras because they were the favorites of the popular vote. Instead, Chanel, which came out the winner thanks to the judges’ vote, received a mere 3.9%, placing it well below. The discontent did not take long to be seen on social networks, and it focused particularly harshly on the SLOMO interpreter.
Since then his SLOMO has become a controversial phenomenon. In a few weeks, the singer went from being a questioned figure who represented an authoritarian swipe of RTVE to being an anti-racist icon. It is undeniable that many of the attacks she received were manifested in strong doses of racism, machismo and classism, a reprehensible issue, but to what extent can that serve to legitimize this musical number?
The political nature of Eurovision both for its reflection of geopolitical relations and for being a space to make LGTBI artists visible in recent years make it a phenomenon to be analyzed down to the last detail. In addition, its playful component makes it a moment of escape, which by apparently suspending the political makes the social fabric in which we live stand out more than ever.
It has been in this moment of exceptionality when, even from feminism, we have gone from defending a critical position on the show that we have taken to Eurovision to consider it the representation of an empowered woman. While a few months ago we criticized the perpetuation in the music industry of female performers with roles subject to the male gaze, in a few weeks the same song has been elevated to a show of feminist empowerment as a response mainly to the attacks that her interpreter had suffered.
The point is not that Chanel is not allowed to represent Spain in Eurovision because she is of Cuban origin or because she is racialized, nothing is further from the truth. The underlying conflict is that musical voices are emerging that break with the role traditionally assigned to women. It is normal that it generates satiety that, even with alternatives, once again, we have no choice but to resign ourselves to the usual. Legitimating Chanel’s show just because she has come under furious attacks from increasingly polarized social media is not in anyone’s interest. Being placed as victims is something that women know well, that only takes away our agency and, furthermore, distances us from the possibility of valuing our own autonomy. Victimization cannot be the excuse to accept as an ideological model the role played by a cultural worker, who like many others is subject to the mandate of the industry.
Just a few months ago Nacho Cano came to the fore with the proposal under his arm to build an Aztec pyramid (with parking included) in the Hortaleza neighborhood for a new musical whose leading role would be played by a still unknown Chanel. The transfer of the land by the City Council through a questionable process and the rejection of the neighborhood’s neighborhood movement moved the project to IFEMA. In the same neighborhood where the neighbors have insistently fought not to put a parking lot where they think a library should be, it turns out that Nacho Cano was received with applause by the municipal government of the Popular Party. Clear example of the cultural model of this party; transfer to friends, and, above all, urban interests above the common good. Let’s not forget either the compliments that he dedicated to Ayuso just a year ago in the act of May 2 this same composer.
That is the real debate, and not whether Chanel wore a long or short suit. We are facing a challenge that has to do with the cultural policies of the neighbourhoods, and with the role of the cultural industry against grassroots culture, especially punished by Andrea Levy as Councilor for Culture in the Madrid City Council. Feminism cannot fall into this false crossroads, on the contrary, it has to be the compass that builds horizons of transformation by allying itself with the defense of an alternative cultural model.
The Popular Party has always been clear about the importance of the cultural field to build hegemony, of the need for its own referents that reflect its value system, only in this way can the true public ridicule to which they subject all artists who do not consider their rope be explained. ideological Harassment and demolition in the form of racism is totally reprehensible, but giving Chanel the image of a feminist and anti-racist cultural reference is a defeat even if she makes Spain third in Eurovision. Once again, what others say (the people in this case) is superfluous.