Hungarian influencer Edina Pottyondy, a fierce critic of the Orbán administration and the opposition parties as well, recently polled her audience about why they believe it is good to be Hungarian. She uploaded a video, presenting a general overview of the responses, which ranged from quite thoughtful and somewhat thoughtful to vulgar and subversive ones—pretty much what you would expect when you solicit responses from anonymous users on the internet.
Partway through her video, she made a point about the lyrics of the author of the Hungarian National Anthem, Ferenc Kölcsey being too pessimistic. She felt that it was such a strong point that she interrupted her typical minimalist format of talking into a camera in her kitchen with some sort of illustration edited to the top left corner of the screen using no green screen, sometimes cutting to few-second clips for comedic effect. This time, she treated her audience to 1 minute and 7 seconds of her singing the lyrics to the the song of Hungarian pop band Soho Party ‘Az éjjel soha nem érhet véget’ (meaning ‘The night must never end’) to the tune of the National Anthem. Again, she felt that it was such a strong performance that she released it as a stand-alone video on New Year’s Eve. That video currently has 74,000 views and 3,000 likes. Those numbers are a worse performance than what Pottyondy’s uploads usually produce, but the comments are positive.
As for Pottyondy’s vocals, it is almost impressive. The National Anthem’s tune is not an easy one to carry with a wide range of notes. We have certainly heard songs more grating to listen to from the Hungarian left—just think of what an influencer named ‘Antsi’ put out and pushed through Facebook ads leading up to the 2022 election. Evidently, at times the number of syllables in a line does not fit the metre, but we are pretty sure that is intended for comedic purposes. However, we are not sure if the song thus qualifies as a ‘mashup’ as she labelled it in her video title, as the whole point of mashups is to beat-match two songs together to create a new, still pleasant sound. This work may be closer to a song parody—made about her own National Anthem…
But jokes aside: the whole concept of this gag is actually quite horrendous. The fact that the Hungarian National Anthem is uniquely sombre is not a great revelation. It has even been covered by mainstream tabloid publications over the past years. So the point Pottyondy is making is far from being original.
Most people in Hungary take their national anthem seriously, and so do those of other nations. On 25 July 1990, American comedienne Roseanne Barr pulled a similar stunt. She was supposed to sing the United States National Anthem before a baseball game between the San Diego Padres and the Cincinnati Reds. Things got off to a bad start when she sang the entire song off-key in the affected nasally voice of her character on her namesake sitcom amidst deafening boos from the crowd of 25 thousand people in attendance. The performance went from bad to worse when after finishing the song, she mimicked the habit of professional baseball players by scratching her crotch and spitting on the ground.
Barr later talked about how Secret Service agents went to her house to protect her from credible threats after the incident. Thankfully, Pottyondy does not have to go through such an ordeal. Nor does she have to worry about getting her social media accounts shut down, as right-wing influencers do when they put out controversial content in the West. No hostile journalist will turn up at her house either, like what happened to the American woman who runs the ‘Libs of TikTok’ Twitter account in April 2022.
Pottyondy will continue to be able to make a good living here in Hungary by putting out content that is highly critical of the current administration. She should be able to do that, and she deserves credit for retaining a large enough audience that generates enough revenue for her—it is not an easy thing to do as a Hungarian-language independent creator.
However, she should have the common sense to have a ‘baseline’ appreciation for the fact that she lives in a country where she is able to do that. That does not absolve the Orbán administration of all her criticism about media freedom, but she should understand that there are many, many countries in the world where she could not have such a career. In fact, I would venture to guess that if she were to throw a dart randomly on a world map, it would be a lot more likely to land on a country where she could not be doing what she does for a living here, than to land on a country where she could.
That base level of appreciation for her country could be shown by simple gestures such as—not putting out song parodies (or ‘mashups’) of the National Anthem…
Content like this appeals to the part of Pottyondy’s audience that, as she herself points out, not only feels no pride for their homeland, but they outright feel ashamed about being Hungarian. Pottyondy describes their views as believing that Hungary is ‘the cancer of Europe’ and ‘the anus of the world’. Simply pointing out that these opinions exist is not pleasant but not wrongful either. However, judging by her video alone, Pottyondy does not seem to grasp how objectionable these opinions are, even among the general population that far exceeds Fidesz’s voting base.
Having said all that, I personally could not sense any malice toward her country in these videos by Pottyondy. What I did sense was quite a lot of self-righteous, tone-deaf sanctimony and pompousness that merit little respect.