Next year marks the 200-year anniversary of Greece’s secession from the Ottoman Empire: here’s the first of the bicentennial kitsch

22 Nov

Fasten your seat belts; it’s gonna be a rough ride…

Too bad, because this song — Dionyses Savvopoulos’ «Ας κρατήσουν οι χοροί»/”Let the dancing continue” — is not only a nice piece, but can really be said to mark an important shift in 20th century Greek culture. In its kaleidoscope of Romeic imagery and thoughts and historical references (a super bitch to translate, but I’ll get around to it, promise) the song is kind of a hip anthem to Greek roots, and a loud negation of the cheap, lefty populism of the metapoliteuse, as the period after the dictatorship of 1967-74 is known. Part of what characterized those years of new freedom was a throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater rejection of anything that smacked of heritage or roots or the past of Greek civilization, and this song appeared just around the time when Greeks’ attitudes started to shift toward a healthier balance, which since the “crisis” has, in fact, started to swing in the completely other direction, as Greeks look for solace in tradition as a way of dealing with the wild social and economic buffeting of the past decade or so. When I post the translation, folks will understand a little better what I’m trying to say.

But the video is hopelessly silly, despite the touching array of beautiful Roman faces. The initial stadium part is ok, but then there’s the big daoulia sequence that looks like it could be part of an Erdoğan rally, and the flashing projection of Revolutionary war heroes, and… And if any of you remember the pageant of cringe-worthy “Hellenic” tackiness that the 2004 Olympic games brought us, be ready for the same deluded, patriotic bourdes squared, στο τετράγωνο.

Hopefully, we’ll at least get a few laughs out of all of it.

Here’s Savvopoulos’ original, by the way, which I just listened to and it made me tear up a little:

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