Most years, I pretty much ignore the Eurovision song contest. But this year there’s been so much hype around my country’s highly unusual representative–the indomitable Netta Barzilai–that ignoring it has been absolutely impossible.
Now, to be clear, part of the reason I usually ignore the contest is that the music is typically not to my taste, and at first, I totally didn’t get the hype around Netta’s entry, “Toy.” When you watch the clip for the first time, your initial reaction is “What the hell?… Is that… are those… did she just make… chicken noises?” and on my first viewing, I didn’t stick around long enough to move past that. “Not my thing,” I declared. “But power to her.”
It was only when I started to study other people’s reactions that I began to understand what the big deal was.
Everything about Netta is different in a totally refreshing and inspiring way. She’s a plus-size performer who completely owns her space and rocks her originality–goofy faces, chicken noises, and all–with stunning confidence. It’s the sort of performance that makes you do a double take, and not just because it’s unusual. These qualities have made her a favorite with high hopes to win the contest on Saturday night–and my fellow Israelis are absolutely gaga over her.
In a press conference after the semi-finals on Tuesday, she was asked two wonderful questions. (You can hear them in a clip on this page; scroll down to the third video. It’s in English.) The first question related to statements she’d made in the past about being bullied as a child for her appearance: if she could go back in time and tell her younger self something, what would she say? Netta responded that she would tell herself not to change a thing and that everything was going to be great. She said she was very lucky to have wonderful parents who supported her dream, and then she gave a line that I think perfectly summarizes her appeal: “I love myself… and I love everybody else.”
The second question is the reason I am telling you about this on the Rejection Survival Guide. 😉
The reporter asked: “You came as a winner… everyone seems to still think that you’re going to win, [to a point where] it seems that even if you come second, it will be a disappointment… I’d like to ask you, how do you handle all this pressure…?”
Oooooh. A classic self-doubt demon question. What if I fail to meet everybody’s expectations?
Netta gave a perfect answer. “I think it’s a Matrix,” she said. “You decide what pill are you taking: if you want to live the lie, which [tells you that] you can compare between musical genres, and between, like, just making music and making people happy, celebrate diversity, enjoy all the great musicians sitting here [at] this table… amazing! Amazing!… The placing doesn’t matter to me. I want to do an amazing job. I want to inspire as much as I can, to reach as many hearts as I can. And if I can do it… it would be amazing for me, and for me, that’s winning.”
That, my friends, is creative resilience.
Rock on, Netta! Thank you for putting yourself out there in all your glory for the whole world to see and admire. You are a total winner and an inspiration to all of us no matter what happens Saturday night. Go get ’em!
ETA: Guess whaaaaaaaaat