The crazy, side-splitting world of Eurovision fan fiction
Buckle up because things are about to get really strange.
Last week I looked at Eurovision fan culture on Instagram and
tumblr - this week I'm looking at Eurovision fan fiction. What is
this? If you've not come across the term before, "fan fiction" is
pretty much what it sounds like - stories of variable quality (ie.
mostly terrible) written by people on the internet who are fans of
particular books, films, TV shows, video games and so on, largely
in the fantasy genre. It's a little-known but vast world - Harry
Potter, Twilight and Lord Of The Rings alone account for hundreds
of thousands of fan-written stories on the internet. The most
famous work of fan fiction - in fact, the only famous one - is 50
Shades Of Gray. It and its two sequels were originally written as a mammoth Twilight fan
fiction called Master of the Universe which was published
online in full; protagonists Ana and Christian were originally
named Bella and Edward. Once it began attracting a huge following,
it was minimally adapted for a general audience and ultimately for
publication, with little more than the names being changed. (As
such, there is debate as to whether its characters can be seen as
original creations or are in fact the intellectual property of
Twilight author Stephanie Meyer.)
Fan fiction is written and read almost entirely by women, and often has a sexual component. Male-male love stories, known as slash fiction, are a major component of fan fiction and even predate the internet - they first gained popularity in the 1960s, when American women wrote gay Star Trek love stories between Kirk and Spock which were published in fanzines. While fantasy universes like Twilight, Trek and Potter inspire the most tributes, the volume of fan fiction on the internet is so huge that there's basically fan fiction for everything you can think of. Including Eurovision. Including Melodifestivalen. There's even dedicated fan fiction for the Macedonian national final, for goodness's sake. If it exists, there is fan fiction of it - in most cases either bafflingly bizarre, steamy or both. Nothing and no-one is safe. Want to read a story where Sakis Rouvas gives Alexander Rybak a handjob in a backstage corridor in Moscow? Want to read an Indonesian-language love story between Rybak and Milan Stankovic? Want to read a story in which the artists of Eurovision 1956 are penguins and Corry Brokken is a friendly leopard seal who saves their eggs from destruction? The internet is your friend. As you can see, I've had a scour of the frankly terrifying world of online Eurovision fan fiction to bring you the most hilariously out-there examples. Like this one:
It had been three months since the English Civil War had ended. The aftermath was still felt all around the country. Cromwell and the republicans had won, the monarchy was disposed of. Oliver Cromwell was now the leader of Britain. The United Kingdom had become a United Republic. Cromwell, as a puritan, had banned anything celebratory. Christmas, parties, dancing. But most of all music. Cromwell hated music above all, believing it to be a distraction from humanities' true purpose, worship. With music banned, it seemed the UK's participation in Eurovision was in jeopardy.
As the story progresses, the unlikely trio of Lulu, Sandie Shaw and Engelbert Humperdinck attempts to track down Bonnie Tyler to persuade her to defy Cromwell's ban and represent the UK.
And so they set off to the farm, to find Bonnie Tyler. And they found her. She was standing there with a sheepdog, herding sheep into their pens. She was a natural at it despite not being in the business very long.
Way to work the Welsh stereotypes. At first, Bonnie is not interested:
"Cromwell's decision is final," Bonnie said, "Look, can you guys just go away? I'm a farmer now, singing is banned, now this is what I do. I don't want to talk about the Euro... the you-know-what.".
"There may be a way out of the country to Sweden after all," Engelbert explained, "There's a guy I know, Daz Sampson, once a Eurovision entrant like us, he runs a shipyard now, ever since Cromwell's ban on music he has been mastering his skills as a ship builder and also as a sea captain. I think he could do something, he might be able to help us."
Arrr. I always suspected Daz Sampson secretly enjoyed having seamen on his poop deck. Finally (ie. instantaneously and for no reason other than the "plot" demands it), Bonnie is won over:
"I accept," Bonnie smiled, "I mean, we might as well give it a shot. It's better than lazing around all day here anyway. I'll get Cliff Richard to look after the farm while I'm gone, he's a farmer now too, did you know?"
That's not the word I'd have used. Sadly the story is unfinished - it ends with our quartet of heroes reaching Daz Sampson's shipyard and him promising to send Bonnie to Malmö on a boat.
"But enough of the English Civil War!" I hear you cry. "I enjoyed the Eurovision 1956 penguin story! If only someone had written a piece of fan fiction for this year's contest in which all the artists were birds!". Don't say I'm not good to you...
It was tonight, the day was finally here. Birds from all over Europe had left their normal migration patterns for once to participate in a very special contest. And now it was the final. The final of the annual Eurovision Birdsong Contest. This year the contest was in Sweden, as Loreen's victory the previous year meant that the contest this year was to be held in her tree; the Swedish Oak of Malmö.
The participants themselves were currently preparing little nests which would serve as the stage where their songs would be performed.
"Aw man," Robin said as he put more leaves and twigs onto his nest, "Who knew building nests could be so hard?"
"That's because you have no experience, my friend," Bonnie said, her nest being considerably bigger and more complex than the others, "I have over 60 years experience in building nests, here, let me help you."
"But isn't that sorta like... cheating?"
"Not at all Robin, and besides, there's no such thing as cheating in the Eurovision Birdsong Contest!"
Soon the nests were built. Not that they would matter much, it was to be the songs themselves that were the main attraction of Eurovision.
"So," the host, Petra Mede said as she flew into the tree, "Are you guys all ready?"
"You bet we are!" Amandine smiled. They were all pretty happy, the contest was a huge hit and their participating in it meant that they would surely get exposure in the avian music scene.
I challenge anyone to read this in full - or even just the above extract - without laughing out a kidney. THE AVIAN MUSIC SCENE. (Also, birds can't smile, they don't have mouths.) It's not even the only bird-themed Eurovision 2013 story by the same author. Here's how another no-less-baffling avian adventure begins:
Malmo Park was world famous. It was a peaceful park, tall trees swaying in the wind as all sorts of colourful insects flew about. It was well known for the many birds that lived there. In the center of the park, there was a large lake. A small duck swam out into the water. It was Petra Mede, splashing about, many ducklings following her. Petra didn't have any eggs of her own, but she had been taught to be kind to all living creatures, and adopted the many abandoned duck eggs that littered the grassy fields all around. There was a whole troop of ducklings, all different colours and sizes, from all over the European continent. And they were hers. Petra loved them all, each and every one of them, like they were her own. Petra swam out further into the lake, over fifty tiny ducklings following her. In another universe, they would be the Eurovision entrants of 2013. But here they were just ducklings. Petra's ducklings. And she liked it that way.
That sounds kind of evil.
In ESC Equestria, the artists of Eurovision 2013
are transported to Equestria, the fictional world of My Little
"The hell's going on here?" Roberto said as he looked at his reflection one more time in the nearby lake. He was a yellow Earth pony with a pink music note as a cutie mark.
"Beats me," Stoyan said, as he too looked and saw that he was a green pony, with a blue music note as his cutie mark.
(It's hardly Kafka's Metamorphosis, is it?)
This is the tip of the iceberg. Those who delve deeper will find other stories - many by the same author, many started but not finished - in which Katie Boyle, Karel Gott and Cliff Richard discover the theft of the UK's crown jewels, the world ends during Eurovision 2000, Stoyan Yankoulov is attacked by a lamp, Marco Mengoni is a squirrel, Farid is a werewolf, ABBA are Pokemon, monsters attack Eurovision 2012 ("Get away from me you monsters!" Kaliopi yelled, struggling to get free), the Swedish riots reach Malmö on Eurovision night, and America launches a nuclear war on the UK, also on Eurovision night. (My favourite line: "So much for the special relationship," Ryan Dolan said, shaking his head.)
Let's take a closer look at that last one:
"We've given so much money to the UK that they're practically our property anyway!" Barack Obama said, reading from a sheet of paper, "What we do with them now is our business. If they don't do as we say, then the nukes on London are only the beginning. It's entirely their fault for wasting our money. We've put up with too much from that country already, giving them chance after chance. Entering the Eurovision Song Contest using our money was the final straw for us."
Bonnie was shocked that these actions were being defended. Surely nuclear attack was supposed to be the last resort, and not the first.
Hannah Mancini walked into the room. As an American, she was disgusted by what her country was doing.
"Bonnie..." she said.
"Oh, Hannah," Bonnie lowered the volume on the TV.
"I'm so sorry," Hannah said, "The America I knew would never do anything like this..."
"It's alright Hannah," Bonnie replied, "No one could have seen this coming. It's not your fault."
Cue epic lesbian make-out session. (It's Natalia Kelly I feel sorry for.) The story "ends" with Christer Björkman granting Bonnie asylum in Sweden. Meanwhile, also in Sweden, in the snazzily-titled Begging You (bonus points for cleverness!), Robin and Anton get it on backstage at Melodifestivalen:
Moist lips pressed back, moving in a slowly growing pace. Their hands traveled, moving from their heads to move across the skin on the other's neck or slip over the other's back. Anton was feeling his need for more being satisfied when he could slip his fingers along the skin in Robin's face, feeling his refined jaw and the touch of his soft skin. He could feel them get closer, feel himself being both satisfied and filled with an ache for more. Robin answered his call by changing the movements of his kisses to a quick bite of Anton's lower lip. A low grunt fled the boy's throat before he could stop it from happening, but then he didn't really care much either. On the other hand was he very eager to act on the tempting. He used his tongue to tease, to ask for more and it was granted, letting him feel the softness of Robin's tongue dance with his.
Moist-slash-erect yet? If not, I'll skip forward:
With tensing muscles, Anton was gently stroking Robin's cheek, staring into his eyes and just waiting for a comment or a sign. It was a bit delayed but soon Robin snickered, slowly placing his hands on Anton's chest so he could get a hold of his shirt and pulled him a little closer.
"You're blushing," Anton heard himself say.
"And what do you think you're doing?" came the answer.
They both grinned before pulling closer, once more locking lips. For a moment there wasn't anything else in the world. Anton tilted his head a little, enough for him to gain better access and to be able to open his mouth and feel Robin's tongue dart out to meet his. Whatever kind of sounds they made didn't seem important, but something that was important to Anton at this moment was to try and get them both through the bedroom door and that as quickly as possible without rushing it.
BOOM CHICKA WAH WAH! I want the Ravaillacz version of this. Meanwhile, in another room close by, Ulrik Munther is exchanging sweet nothings by telephone with Emil, the lead singer of State Of Drama:
Ulrik had to hide his face behind a hand even though there was no one there to see the way he was blushing. It didn't matter how many times they kissed or how many times the memories played in his head. He would always feel his knees grow weak and he was sure to blame it on the fact that Emil was close to ten years older and had a lot more experience than Ulrik. Because Emil really knew how to drive him mad. Every time their lips would meet Ulrik would feel how he just resigned. His body gave in and he did what Emil asked. He would climb closer, wrapping his arms around the man's head and try to feel him closer even as their chests would be pressed close, their lips moving together while tongues darted out to enchant the other and as their hips would ever so slightly rock to the movements of their kiss.
KÄRLEKEN KÄRLEKEN KÄRLEKEN, OYOYOY! There's those darting tongues again. Apropos Emil, I'm amazed there isn't a Didrik/Emil bro-cest version of one of these stories. How long will we have to wait for "Den stora Solli-Gangbang"?
Back to Bonnie, who, in another story, discovers her true calling:
When Bonnie woke up that morning the first thing she did was
rush over to her letterbox. Letters covered the floor underneath.
It seemed she had a lot of mail today. Tossing the junk mail aside,
she reached to the bottom of the pile. She was looking for a very
special delivery. "Yes!" she yelled as she spotted the golden
envelope with a pokeball symbol on it. That was what she had been
waiting for all week. Her Pokemon license. To legally become a
pokemon trainer you had to send off for a license and see if you
get approved by the government. Now, having received her license in
the mail she could now go to the lab of Professor Christer Björkman
and receive her first ever Pokemon.
"Here, take this," said Björkman, and he got out a strange red device,
"This is a PokeDex, I invented it myself! It records data on Pokemon you see or catch. It'll help you a lot, and help me too in my research. Keep it safe and good luck on your journey!"
"Thanks Christer!" Bonnie smiled.
And there was me thinking PokeDex is what Barbara's husband does. (Plus I can't help feel that "pokeballs" should have been incorporated into the Ulrik/Emil story rather than this one.) Moving swiftly on, another Pokemon-themed story recasts Esma and Vlatko as two Pikachus pursued by the dreaded Anti-Pokemon League:
"[As] the Anti-Pokemon League, we must make sure that the contest is untainted by Pokemon. Now then, there has only been one Pokemon who has ever taken part in the contest... and that of course was Udo Jurgens, for Austria, many years ago..."
As well as these Eurovision/Pokemon stories, crossover fans will also find Stargate Atlantis crossovers, Glee crossovers, Arthur and Merlin crossovers, a Sherlock Holmes crossover, a Doctor Who crossover, a Les Miserables crossover, a Phantom Of The Opera crossover, a Buffy crossover and even a Hawaii Five-0 crossover. But the magnum opus of Eurovision fan fiction - currently 27,000 words and counting - is Björkman's Empire, a multi-part story in which Christer Björkman takes over Sweden with evil robots, conducting show trials and executing dissidents to secure power, not to mention nuking Iceland, kidnapping Kaliopi and (gasp!) fixing the Eurovision results. The tale's dramatic centrepiece unfolds when the stars of Melodifestivalen, led by Loreen and Robin, rise up against his despotic rule. Dramatic stuff! (SPOILER ALERT: David Lindgren gets shot by a robot. As do State of Drama, who are accidentally left behind in the car park when the other finalists escape Christer's clutches, hijack the Björkmanmobile and head for the Norwegian border and freedom.)
It's easy for me to sit here and make fun, but I found myself really enjoying a couple of chapters of Björkman's Empire. A guilty pleasure of course, but I really got into it. The tone is surprisingly serious and the world-building effective. And you know what? I'm glad this stuff exists. Not just Björkman's Empire, but all of the delightfully demented Eurovision-inspired tales out there. The internet would be a poorer place without Eurovision fan fiction, ornithological or otherwise - this much I'm sure of. It's the product of people's creativity, passion and unfettered imagination - and in a post-industrial hypercapitalist society in which young people are conditioned to be little more than obedient workers and passive consumers, I welcome it. Björkman's Empire is the product of a creative young spirit that hasn't been crushed - not by evil Swedish robots but by life. Creativity is good for you, however the results turn out. It's Eurovision fan fiction - no-one's expecting the next Kazuo Ishiguro.
As such, I'd love to see some of you - you, reading this article right now - write your own Eurovision fan fiction, whether serious or tongue-in-cheek (perhaps literally), however long or short. Robin-Anton love stories are all well and good, but we alll know there's a whole host of other alluring pairings just waiting to be explored in sensual prose: Pasha-Andrius, Ott-Donny, the Moje 3 lesbian love triangle, Krista and her bride, Robert Bellarosa torn between his two dancers, the homoerotic adventures of Koza Mostra (it's all fun and games until someone chokes on a furball)... perhaps even a Harold And Maude reimagining with Esma and Vlatko. There are stories waiting to be told. I want someone to write the story of why Andrius's shoes are called Love and Pain, and why he was dressed as a ringmaster in the national final. (Had he just finished mastering someone's ring?) I want someone to eloquently capture the forbidden love between Farid and Box Man, interweaving a nuanced consideration of the difficulties of homosexual life in a conservative society with lots of sweaty Turkish bath scenes, Caspian oil rubdowns and illicit box love. I want someone to tell the tale of what happened when Alyona got stuck in the disco ball for several minutes during the afternoon rehearsal on the day of the final. (Sitting in the audience at the time, I couldn't help but think of the climax of Contact with Jodie Foster.) Write it. You. Yes you can. There is unmet demand. (I might even dabble myself.)
In this article, I've in all likelihood ventured into the territory of making fun of kids (or at least their written endeavours), which is probably bad of me - but at least I'm bringing their Eurovision stories, some of which only have a handful of views, to a much wider fan audience. If I think back to my own childhood, growing up in a very low-tech household with no games consoles, no CD player (hence my adult love of music) and no computer until I was 15 (and no internet until the year after), I wrote all kinds of completely mad, incredibly creative stuff. To this day I remember, with complete focus and clarity, teaching myself to type at the age of 5 after we bought an old blue typewriter and a "learn to type" manual in a local charity shop. Later, I had one of these, and I loved it. I wrote a book about the adventures of an anthropomorphic rock ("Mortimer The Rock") and his friend (Mick The Stick) and brought it into school for my friends to read. I drew a comic strip about a fun-loving fish called "Neddy The Pink Piranha" (evidently the signs of future woofterdom were present at a young age) and his undersea friends, and created an elaborate board game to accompany it. And today, 20 years on, I guess I'm essentially still doing the same thing in a somewhat more advanced form (if only somewhat) with this column. So if Eurovision inspires today's youngsters to put down their phones and games consoles and write stories about Yohio, totalitarianism, penguins or any combination of the three, I celebrate this. The wackier, and the more creative, the better.
Oh, and that picture at the start? It's from this animated Eurovision story. Watch it and have your mind blown. That's a Eurovision-loving kid being creative, right there - and the more they practice, the more they create, the more they grow, learn and refine their skills, the more it'll stand them in great stead in the future.