Tanska, Marianna (2019-04). The Voice of Ukraine: Mediating Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism. Master's Thesis.
Popular culture and content of TV broadcasts are strongly related to national identity, and local audiences expectations and tastes. Franchised TV talent shows, such as The Voice, are a significant part of the global TV culture, and when adapted to the local context reflect local viewers' perception of the self. The Voice in Ukraine attracts the audience with an appealing combination of skilled vocalists as contestants, tasteful musical content masterfully framed in a technically advanced stage set, and commentaries from the most popular celebrities in Ukraine. Additionally, the complex internal relationships within Ukraine, the relations with West (Europe and the US) and East (Russia and other post-Soviet states) create a unique discourse around the contestants of the show. This Thesis investigates how the show, in mediating nationalism and cosmopolitanism, represents the Ukrainian national identity. The study is pertinent because, in Ukraine, the recent tragic events of the Revolution of Dignity in 2013-2014, the Annexation of Crimea, and the continuing conflict in the eastern part of the country all have stimulated a contested ground for national identity debates. I argue that, for commercial purposes, the show is able to touch on different perspectives about Ukrainian identity by employing symbolism as an appeal to different parts of a multifaceted Ukrainian society. By doing so, The Voice Ukraine mediates nationalism and cosmopolitanism. My study of The Voice Ukraine consisted of two interrelated components: media analysis of roughly 70 episodes of the show between 2014 and 2018 and reception analysis of the audience's comments on the show's official YouTube account, where all the performances are made available after the TV broadcast. The timeframe of my analysis - seasons four (2014) to eighth (2018) - encompasses significant changes in Ukraine's social and political life. The Voice Ukraine is a liminal space for the contestants, who compete to become a celebrity. It is also a space for the performance of Ukrainian popular culture and national identity. This thesis opens perspectives for future study on national identity performance in popular culture, offering a fruitful ground for race, gender, and queer studies.