One couch. Three banners. Seven seconds of live television. And with that, the leather-clad doomsday anticapitalist BDSM water-hawking scam artist tycoons (we could go on) Hatari, made history under their mantra of “Hatrið mun sigra,” as they brought the world’s attention to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest.
“We had a couple of banners. Matthías put one in his pants, but I just put them in my bag,” Hatari’s vocalist, Klemens Hannigan, remembers, discussing the lead up to their on-screen protest. “There was a security check before going into the ‘bubble,’ or the backstage, but no one ever checked my bag.”
He laughs, almost incredulously—apparently it’s a lot easier to pull an international political stunt than you’d think—and is quickly joined by the aforementioned vocalist Matthías Tryggvi Haraldsson.
“I think if they would have checked your bag we would have been in trouble. It wasn’t a very good strategy,” Matthías admits. His voice, a low baritone, is so deadpan that it’s often difficult to tell whether he’s being serious, sarcastic, or sardonic. “We could have maybe discussed the flag-smuggling-strategy beforehand,” he adds, slightly smirking.
Hypocrisy & Live TV
Regardless, Hatari’s non-strategy worked, and when given their Eurovision moment on live television during the voting, Matthías held up a banner in the Palestinian colours while Klemens gave two peace signs behind it. The visual became iconic and the global reaction instantaneous.
“The first thing that happened is just this frantic booing from thousands of people. 8,000 people just releasing their anger,” Matthías relays. At the same time, security guards confiscated the banners.
“It goes to show the power of live TV is just so insane,” he says. “We had been bringing up topics related to Palestine for weeks in interviews but it didn’t carry the weight until seconds on live TV. That was it for so many people. For us, it was the whole thing. Live TV is a powerful thing, especially when there are people watching.”
For Matthías, Eurovision’s response, most of all, revealed some stark hypocrisies. “We found it strange that, from a Eurovision rules perspective, there were all kinds of flags being waved,” he explains. “We waved the trans flag and the pride flag. There were Norwegians waving the Sami flag, which is a very political thing to do. So why is this where the rules are broken? Obviously, in the context, it carries so much weight, but hopefully, sometime in the future, it won’t.” He pauses. “One state. Two state. No state.”
Europe Will Crumble
While Eurovision entry “Hatrið mun sigra” (Hate Will Prevail, in English) might be what Hatari is most known for—and for good reason—the months following have proved that Hatari is anything but a one-note Eurovision gimmick, and the year ahead is shaping up to cement their legacy.
“We’re sending in another song,” Klemens says simply, his face blank, when asked about Hatari’s plans for 2020. Then he grins. “No, we’re not. We’re releasing an album. We’re going on tour, Europe Will Crumble.” Matthías nods. He pauses; the smirk slowly re-emerging on his face. “Where we will observe the crumbling of Europe along with our guests.”
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