Eurovision Contest Host Sweden Braces for Anti-Israel Protests

FILE - Swedish pop group ABBA celebrate winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest on stage at the Brighton Dome in England with their song Waterloo, April 6, 1974. (AP Photo/Robert Dear, File)
FILE - Swedish pop group ABBA celebrate winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest on stage at the Brighton Dome in England with their song Waterloo, April 6, 1974. (AP Photo/Robert Dear, File)
TT

Eurovision Contest Host Sweden Braces for Anti-Israel Protests

FILE - Swedish pop group ABBA celebrate winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest on stage at the Brighton Dome in England with their song Waterloo, April 6, 1974. (AP Photo/Robert Dear, File)
FILE - Swedish pop group ABBA celebrate winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest on stage at the Brighton Dome in England with their song Waterloo, April 6, 1974. (AP Photo/Robert Dear, File)

Sweden said it plans to host a dazzling Eurovision Song Contest, watched by 200 million people worldwide, but visitors face heightened security amid planned protests over Israel's participation and a new geo-political backdrop since Sweden joined NATO.
The contest, the world's biggest of its kind, takes place in Malmo from 7-11 May and is expected to draw 100,000 visitors to Sweden's third-largest city which has a large Muslim population.

Organizers plan a special tribute to Swedish pop group ABBA, who won Eurovision 50 years ago this year. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organizes the contest, has resisted calls for Israel to be excluded due to its war in Gaza, Reuters reported.

Controversy over the conflict has already hit various cultural events across Europe. Much focus is expected to be on Israeli contestant Eden Golan and her song Hurricane, as multiple large pro-Palestinian protests are planned outside the venue in Malmo.

Israel was permitted to compete after it agreed to modify the lyrics of its original song "October Rain" which the EBU said made reference to the Oct. 7 Hamas onslaught in Israel.

EBU brands Eurovision a non-political event and insists that the contest is between public service broadcasters, not governments.

Still, it banned Russia in 2022 from Eurovision after several European public broadcasters called for the country to be expelled following its invasion of Ukraine.

Sweden is hosting the annual competition for the seventh time, after Swedish singer Loreen won last year's competition in Liverpool with her song "Tattoo".

Ebba Adielsson, executive Eurovision producer from Swedish broadcaster SVT, promised "some smashing shows." She ruled out an ABBA reunion but said the event would celebrate the group's 1974 win with their song "Waterloo", a victory that launched the band onto the international stage.

Swiss contestant Nemo is the favorite to win this year, according to bookmakers, followed by Croatia's Baby Lasagna, Joost Klein of the Netherlands, and Italy's Angelina Mango.

'HIGH THREAT-LEVEL'

Visitors from 89 countries expected in Malmo will have to pass through airport-like security checks when entering venues around the city.

"There's a high threat level combined with a lot of people," said Per-Erik Ebbestahl, Malmo's security director.

Organizers face the risk of protests escalating into violence, heightened terror threats in the country, and increased tensions with Russia after Sweden's NATO membership.

In central Malmo there are official posters for Eurovision but also protest banners replicating the same colorful design, with the word Eurovision replaced by 'genocide' and the words: "Israel out of Eurovision or Eurovision out of Malmo."

Police say security will be tighter compared with when Sweden last hosted the event in 2016.

"The situation around the world is complex, and also the security for Sweden is different," said Petra Stenkula, Malmo police chief. "We are ready for anything that can happen."



Hollywood Movies Rarely Reflect Climate Change Crisis. These Researchers Want to Change That

This image released by Netflix shows Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy and Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky in a scene from "Don't Look Up." (Niko Tavernise/Netflix via AP)
This image released by Netflix shows Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy and Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky in a scene from "Don't Look Up." (Niko Tavernise/Netflix via AP)
TT

Hollywood Movies Rarely Reflect Climate Change Crisis. These Researchers Want to Change That

This image released by Netflix shows Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy and Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky in a scene from "Don't Look Up." (Niko Tavernise/Netflix via AP)
This image released by Netflix shows Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy and Jennifer Lawrence as Kate Dibiasky in a scene from "Don't Look Up." (Niko Tavernise/Netflix via AP)

Aquaman might not mind if the oceans rise, but moviegoers might.

That's one of the takeaways from a new study conducted by researchers who set out to determine if today's Hollywood blockbusters are reflective of the current climate crisis. The vast majority of movies failed the “climate reality check” proposed by the authors, who surveyed 250 movies from 2013 to 2022.

The test is simple — the authors looked to see if a movie presented a story in which climate change exists, and whether a character knows it does. One film that passed the test was the 2017 superhero movie Justice League, in which Jason Momoa's Aquaman character says, “Hey, I don't mind if the oceans rise” to Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne, The AP reported.

But most movies fell short — fewer than 10% of the 250 films passed, and climate change was mentioned in two or more scenes of fewer than 4% of the films. That's out of touch with a moviegoing public that wants “to see their reality reflected on screen,” said Colby College English professor Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, lead researcher on the study.

“The top line is just that the vast majority of films, popular films produced over the last 10 years in the United States, are not portraying the world as it is,” Schneider-Mayerson said. “They are portraying a world that is now history or fantasy — a world in which climate change is not happening.”

Researchers at Maine's Colby College published the study in April along with Good Energy, a Los Angeles-based environmental consultancy. The results were peer reviewed, and the authors are seeking publication in scientific journals. The researchers view the test as a way for audience members, writers and filmmakers to evaluate the representation of climate change on screen.

Some results were surprising. Movies that at first glance appear to have little overlap with climate or the environment passed the test. Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach's emotive 2019 drama about the collapse of a relationship, passed the test in part because Adam Driver's character is described as “energy conscious,” Schneider-Mayerson said.

The 2022 whodunnit Glass Onion and the 2019 folk horror movie Midsommar were others to pass the test. Some that were more explicitly about climate change, such as the 2021 satire Don't Look Up, also passed. But San Andreas, a 2015 movie about a West Coast earthquake disaster, and The Meg, a 2018 action movie set in the ocean, did not.

The authors narrowed the selection of movies by excluding films not set on Earth or set before 2006 or after 2100. They found streaming services had a higher percentage of movies that included climate change than the major studios did.

The study is “valuable for marketing purposes, informational purposes, data accumulation,” said Harry Winer, director of sustainability at the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts. Winer, who was not involved in the study, said it could also help serve as an incentive to connect audiences with climate stories.

“The audience will be more open to hearing a dialogue about what is right and what is wrong,” Winer said. “It's a conversation starter.”

The study authors said they see the climate reality check as a kind of Bechdel-Wallace test for climate change. Alison Bechdel, a cartoonist, is credited with popularizing that test in the 1980s by incorporating her friend Liz Wallace's test about gender representation in film into a comic strip. The test asks if a movie includes at least two female characters who have a conversation about something other than a man.

Bechdel herself spoke highly of the study's climate test, which she described as “long overdue” in a social media post during this year's Academy Awards season. Bechdel said in an e-mail to The AP that “for a movie set in the present to ignore this existential threat just doesn't make sense anymore" in the age of climate change.

“I do worry that screenwriters might do it in a kind of rote way, which could be counterproductive, just like rote ‘strong female characters’ are," Bechdel said. "But injecting an awareness of our communal plight into the stories we ingest seems like a no-brainer.”