During the Eurovision song contest last week, Graham Norton carried on the tradition of his late predecessor Terry Wogan to be disdainful, dismissive and to poke fun at funny foreigners who don’t speak English.
It’s ironic isn’t it, that both Norton and Wogan are/were Irish, a nationality that has been victimised a lot by the British – but there they go, acting as honorary Brits, peddling the same prejudices for a job.
To make jokes about how bad the music is is fine, because let’s face it, most of it isn’t great music, but that’s not the point. Norton displayed a wilful ignorance of major figures in the Portuguese speaking world who were involved in the event this year. You would think with the amount he is paid, Norton would have done a bit of research about the professional artists performing while votes were being counted. Caetano Veloso is a grand figure of Brazilian music spoken in the same breath as Gilberto Gil, Chico Buarque and Vinicius de Moraes. Sara Tavares who appeared with Branko, is also an established Portuguese singer. She mixes influences of Cape Verde (islands off West Africa where her family is from), Portuguese and jazz in her music.
Norton gave a token reference to Caetano Veloso that he was a controversial figure (he probably just read the first line of his Wiki entry) but didn’t follow it up with any more information. And as for Tavares’ performance, he just said, boring, glad that’s over. He demonstrates the same behaviour many British tourists display when holidaying in the Algarve. Take the surroundings for granted and show utter disinterest for any local culture. The same attitude many Brits have in the Costa del Sol, Spain.
Norton excels in chatting with the US stars who come over the Atlantic to promote their products on Saturday nights. He is one of those beacons who stands their promoting that “special relationship” between the UK and the USA. In a way, I think that fuels his outward prejudice of the factors that don’t fit into that cosy worldview. Perhaps also, because his livelihood and identity has now formed around those dynamics, he can’t pull away from such limited behaviour. Perhaps behind that boisterous figure, there is a depressed comic who doesn’t like the things he says?
Just a thought!