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Silvía Nótt dissected

So, all day long, pundits up here have been rattling on about Eurovision, giving their expert views on Silvía and what-went-wrong and yadayadayada. Even old Morgunblaðið, which is renowned for its highbrow cultural supplement on Saturdays, is publishing a feature tomorrow entitled “What is Silvía Nótt?” – The emphasis obviously being on the ‘What’ as opposed to ‘Who’.

It’s a valid question and as worthy of intellectual acrobatics as any other. The question, in a nutshell, is this: Is Silvía [well, actually it’s Ágústa Eva, who plays Silvía]… Is Ágústa Eva, through her act, providing a deep and meaningful commentary on modern culture? Is she, by pushing the envelope the way she does, by creating a cartoon character that is superficial, empty, pornographic, with warped values and a mouth like a sailor – in short, a composite of a lot of what is wrong with our modern society – actually highlighting those flaws? Acting as a mirror? Bringing things into focus, if you will?

Or is she just… superficial and empty?

The crux of what happened in Athens, what with all the booing and disdain, is that people didn’t really get that Silvía Nótt isn’t real – she’s theatre. She’s a character played by an actress, who may or may not be doing something important. However, as veteran Eurovision-goer Páll Óskar* summed up in Kastljós this evening, most people who sit down in front of their TV screens to watch Eurovision do so with no prior knowledge of what or who Silvía Nótt is, hence they don’t get the joke. They are offended. And who can blame them? It took the Icelandic nation about six months to catch on to her act, after her TV show first appeared on the air. People were baffled. Didn’t know what to make of her. Thought she was incredibly stupid or incredibly funny, or both. And after a while some people started to think that she might actually be more than just the sum of her parts.

But back to the banal: Ágústa Eva, as Silvía, has had a pretty strenuous few days. [Hell, more than a few days – she toured several European countries beforehand, plus she’s just finished shooting a dramatic role in a major Icelandic feature that is currently in production – Jar City, based on the novel by golden-boy Arnaldur Indriðason.] You can believe that it takes incredible stamina to stay in character and keep the circus going for an entire week, as the whole Silvía Nótt delegation has been doing. No wonder they’ve been suffering from exhaustion – especially Silvía, who presumably cannot ever leave her room as Ágústa Eva the actress, and has to spend hours in a makeup chair before she can step out in public. And say what you will about her behavior and whether or not she deserved the harsh reception, but to actually go on stage and deliver a stellar performance the way she did knowing she was doing so in front of a very hostile audience and 150 million television viewers – I mean, you have to hand it to her. You really do.

However, the best suggestion I heard today – which also came from Páll Óskar, who talked a lot of sense – was to have Silvía Nótt do part of the Eurovision commentary during the main competition tomorrow night. Now that would be something worth watching – she’d probably even give Terry Wogan a run for his money.** I say she should be shanghaied into it. After all, we the People Of Iceland are paying her salary at the moment, are we not?

Can’t imagine what could be more interesting than deep insightful analysis of the Sylvía Nótt phenomena, but if you insist. It’s been a beautiful day today, i.e. the sun has been shining. There’s been wind, though, which is never very pleasant [well except it blows our pollution away to places like Athens, which is always inundated with smog I’m told] and thus a bit cool. Winds from northerly directions [also a minus] and current temps are 7°C. Daybreak today was at 01.50 and… would you believe it! Tonight is the first night this year when there is NO nightfall, because after tonight it doesn’t get dark ALL NIGHT LONG! Huzzah!

* Páll Óskar pushed the envelope himself when he represented Iceland in 1997 and did this sado-maso kind of number in black latex and whathaveyou. I couldn’t help noticing last night that a bunch of the acts had girls dressed in very similar outfits – corsets, stockings – as Páll Óskar had his backup singers dressed in back then… only at that time it caused an outrage. Incidentally, there’s a rather embarrassing “shrine” dedicated to PÓ here.

** Terry Wogan is the British commentator that spends the whole Eurovision broadcast making snarky comments about the contestants. I’ve never actually heard him but he’s said to be pretty funny and if we watch the contest at home tomorrow – that is if Silvía can’t be persuaded to do some of the Icelandic commentary – I’m watching Eurovision on the BBC. Definitely.



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