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Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky wins cartoonist Mark Knight’s politician version of Eurovision

Mark Knight, May 19, 2022 6:00PM Kids News

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Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky is the winner in Mark Knight’s political version of the Eurovision song contest. media_cameraUkrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky is the winner in Mark Knight’s political version of the Eurovision song contest.

arts

Reading level: green

The Eurovision song contest has a big following in Australia, judging by the fact that we are allowed to participate in the competition where European nations battle it out for best pop song.

Personally I don’t think there has been a decent winner since 1974 when ABBA won it for Sweden with their song “Waterloo”, but maybe I just don’t appreciate cheesy, over-the-top Euro pop music!

Swedish pop group Abba performs their song Waterloo during the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton 09 February 1974. Fans of legendary Swedish disco group ABBA can dance down memory lane when ABBA the Museum opens in Stockholm in 2009, featuring the quartet's costumes, instruments and rare memorabilia. AFP PHOTO Olle Lindeborg/Scanpix Sweden media_cameraSwedish pop group ABBA performs its song Waterloo during Eurovision in 1974. Picture: AFP Photo/Scanpix Sweden

But the contest does foster a feeling of goodwill, peace and connectedness between European countries where, in the past and presently, relations have not been so good. A prime example being Russia’s current invasion of Ukraine.

So this year we saw Russia and Belarus expelled* from the competition and the emotional favourite to win before a note had even been played was Ukraine.

If, like me, you woke up to watch it at 5am last Sunday you would have seen the Ukraine performers carried to victory on a wave of popular votes. They won for their song Stefania, which was like a Ukrainian rap song with a catchy flute chorus. Once that tune got inside your head, you could not get it out! An earworm I think they call it.

media_cameraThe Ukraine performers pose with their national flag and 2022 Eurovision trophy after taking out the song contest with their song Stefania. Picture: AFP

I thought the event was a good topic for a cartoon based on the fact that Ukraine has suffered greatly due to Russia’s invasion.

Rather than draw the actual performers and their song, I thought I would create my political version of a Ukrainian entry in the song contest.

I thought the best frontman for a band performing at my political interpretation* of Eurovision would have to be Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky. A former actor and comedian, he was highly underrated* by the world when he unexpectedly won an election to lead his country and then face up to the military might of Russia.

He has performed beyond expectation and is one of the main reasons Ukraine has defended so well and pushed back the superior Russian forces. A frontman if ever there was one!

media_cameraUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks to European leaders over the internet, wearing his trademark khaki green T-shirt. Picture: AFP Photo/Ukrainian presidential press-service

Eurovision is also famous for its over-the-top stage performances and costumes. I thought for Zelensky’s performance there should be lots of pyrotechnics* on stage, symbolic of the ferocity* of this unfortunate war.

I sketched him standing on one of the most visible symbols of the invasion: a destroyed Russian tank. He sings into a microphone, belting out his song in his familiar khaki green T-shirt.

media_cameraA Ukrainian serviceman walks past the wreckage of a Russian tank in the village of Skybyn, northeast of the capital city of Kyiv on May 2, 2022. Destroyed Russian tanks have become a common sight as Ukrainian forces fight the invasion. Picture: AFP

No Eurovision performance would be complete without the cheering crowd, so in the foreground I have drawn fans dancing and waving their arms in approval.

You might recognise someone in the crowd covering their ears, someone who bears an amazing resemblance to Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Not a fan of this performance obviously.

The final piece of this cartoon was the song. What song would President Zelensky be singing? What tune represents Ukraine’s struggle against the odds? A song that defines how they have defied* military predictions? A song that also capture’s the type of leader Zelensky is? I remembered his famous quote when he knocked back offers of help to flee the country: “I don’t need a ride, I need ammunition”.

For me there was only one song. Maybe a younger generation, like you students, can think of others. I’m sure you can, but for me, being a bit older than you, it was Frank Sinatra’s classic “My way”.

Zelensky certainly has done it his way, and the cartoon illustrates how his performance is worthy of being crowned winner of Eurovision 2022!

GLOSSARY

  • expelled: forced to leave
  • interpretation: reframing or showing your own understanding of something
  • underrated: not rated or valued highly enough
  • pyrotechnics: fireworks
  • ferocity: fierce and violent nature
  • defied: refused to obey or do something in the expected way

EXTRA READING

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Are Putin and Xi on similar paths?

No more McDonald’s for Moscow

QUICK QUIZ

  1. Which two countries were expelled from Eurovision this year?
  2. What is the name of the winning song the Ukraine performers sang?
  3. Why did Mark Knight draw lots of pyrotechnics on stage?
  4. Which other political leader did Mark draw in the Eurovision crowd?
  5. Why did Mark chose Frank Sinatra’s song, My Way?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. What happens next?
Imagine this cartoon is part of a story that is made up of three cartoons. The three cartoons tell a complete story, and Mark’s cartoon is the start of the story. Think about what the story could be and draw the next two cartoons that tell the story. 

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Arts, Visual Communication Design, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Being able to draw is only one of the skills needed to be a great cartoonist. Write a list of all of the other skills that you think cartoonists like Mark need to do their job. 

Next to each skill, write a sentence that explains why that skill is important or helps them to do a great job.

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capability, Media Arts, Visual Communication Design

VCOP ACTIVITY
Stretch your sentence
Find a “who” in the cartoon – a person or an animal. Write it down. 

Add three adjectives to describe them better.

Now add a verb to your list. What are they doing?

Add an adverb about how they are doing the action. 

Using all the words listed, create one descriptive sentence.

Extra Reading in arts