Staging and Engaging with Media Events: A Study of the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest
Recent work on media events has questioned their integrative function, arguing that they operate as sites of symbolic struggle between different interest groups. However, relatively few studies have examined the experiences of those who design, organize, and attend such events. This article addresses this lacuna with reference to the biggest nonsporting live TV event in the world, the Eurovision Song Contest. Drawing on data from the 2014 competition in Copenhagen, Denmark, it examines the varying levels of commitment to the event among organizers, fans, broadcasters, and journalists and, in particular, notes how this shaped responses to a controversial incident involving the Russian entry. While those with an ongoing interest, including organizers and fans, tended to emphasize personal narratives and individual freedom of expression, mainstream media and audiences adopted a far more cynical standpoint, privileging geopolitical issues to make the event seem more relevant and compelling.