Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Massiel Wins Eurovision

It doesn't get better than this: my obsessions with pageantry, nationalism, propaganda and camp all rolled into one.

This is a clip from Franco's NO DO propaganda newsreels commemorating Massiel's victory for Spain in the Eurovision song contest. I believe I have written about this contest before here. It's closely followed by Europeans and has been a landmark in my own upbringing. Massiel was an opportunistic singer who took over for Joan Manuel Serrat when he was not allowed to sing his own song in Catalan. Franco refused to allow Spain to be represented by the "subversive" region's language. 

Massiel is now a bloated alcoholic who makes a fool of herself in gossip chat shows. One of my favorite anecdotes is when she allegedly fell reaching for a book in her home, and then posed full of bruises and bandages in hospital. 

The NO DO shows how Massiel was the spokesmodel for the Spanish FIAT knock-off, the SEAT (we had one when I was a kid, those cars were the bomb) so she was promoting Franco's resurgent industrial production, and then you will see her on the government TV station TVE singing the song with a tuna accompaniment. The latter another tourist kitsch cliche - the tuna singers are strolling musicians associated with universities but they became a staple in restaurants aimed at tourists near the Plaza Mayor in Madrid, and other sites. 

Finally, the narrator proudly announces that the song was a backdrop in the Miss Germany Pageant. The best is when the announcer notes that an innovation that year was the requirement that the winner be "smart" as well as beautiful. Awesome. 

Watch for the cameo appearance by famous Spanish film and TV director Pilar Miro, as an Eurovision judge. This is particularly ironic since it's one of many cases where the NO DO or print media reveal that politically progressive icons from the Transition to Democracy and more recent years collaborated with the regime in one form or another. 

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