Eurovision: Genocide Comes to Pop Culture

esc-2016Eurovision Song Contest has served as a platform to strengthen both national and European identities and embrace diversity throughout every nation for over 60 years.  The show’s vast influence expands to an audience of approximately 180 million people all over the world. Its expansive reach has not only sparked the careers of various performers, it has also allowed for the television program to have social, political, and cultural influence.

The televised contest does have strict rules; songs that promote political messages are disqualified from entry.  In 2009, the song “We Don’t Wanna Put In” was the Georgian entry. The song contained negative political references to Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister of Russia, and provided a critical Georgian perspective on the war between Georgia and Russia in 2008. Because of the song’s strong political message and references, the European Broadcasting Union ruled that the song would have to be rewritten or a new song would have to be chosen. Georgia did not comply with this ruling, and therefore withdrew from the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest.

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The Cost of Forgetting: Preserving the Memory of Korea’s “Comfort Women”

It has been more than 70 years since Japan’s 35-year formal occupation of the Korean peninsula ended, but issues of reparations and memory surrounding the crimes against humanity committed by the Japanese government during this time period are still contested. It is estimated that up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, were forced into sexual slavery during WWII. These young “comfort women” were abducted from their villages or persuaded to leave with the false promise of work, only to be imprisoned in comfort stations and sexually exploited by Japanese soldiers.

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