Denmark is making world headlines on a regular basis at the moment. But recently, it seems there’s something slightly rotten going on with the state of international media coverage of Denmark. Louisa Field has given her opinion to Jutland Station.
There is something increasingly bizarre about the changing reputation of our small nation state: Last year we were the happiest-hippie-bacon-producing nation in the world. This year I couldn’t tell a salesman at an English countryside market that I am Danish without having “BORGEN” and “THE BRIDGE shouted at me. Calmly nodding, I received a discount. But it seems that we will not only receive discounts and applause from the world this year.
It all started with the now-famous ‘selfie‘. Our otherwise beautiful and immaculate Prime Minister Helle (pronounced “Hell” by most English speakers), managed to make quite a commotion with her selfie at Nelson Mandala’s funeral ceremony in December. While the Daily Mail threw around insults like “narcissist” about poor Hell, Danish reporters joked around with her – one even stealing a kiss and a selfie with her.
In the past few weeks stories of the massacre of dolphins in Faroe Islands – a place many seem to believe is in Denmark – has yet again circled social media, hitting Facebook rather hard this time.This has resulted in a most peculiar question from one of my foreign friends: “Is it part of some viking-manhood-test to kill a dolphin in Denmark?” We actually don’t even have real dolphins in Denmark, only these small ones, which we call “guinea pigs”. Also, they are very rare. I have only once caught a glimpse of a flock outside Aarhus Harbour. And no, the Faroe Islands are not part of mainland Denmark, neither is Denmark in Sweden, something another outraged journalist from The National Post seems to believe.
As if these things were not enough to smudge Shakespeare’s otherwise poetic portrait of Denmark, yesterday Copenhagen Zoo decide to slaughter and feed a “healthy and utterly adorable” giraffe to the lions, causing complete mayhem on BBC, CNN and Facebook. Even more disturbing was the fact that the Danish children, who watched the event at the zoo, seemed to show no empathy whatsoever. No tears were shed while poor Marius was shot and dissected, instead the children seemed to enjoy the show.
Bengt Holst, scientific director at Copenhagen Zoo, told CNN, that the crowd was “very enthusiastic” and “the kids asked good questions”. In the Danish media, the slaughtering of the giraffe has received little attention. While petitions are cruising the internet demanding that Holst is fired, in Denmark Marius’ killing is generally accepted and the international media’s reaction frowned upon.
In a country that exports thousands of kilos of bacon every year to the UK and the rest of Europe, it would be insane to be in tears when nature takes it’s cause. We might all agree that we care about the genocide in Congo or the actual maltreatment of millions of Danish pigs, but there has definitely been no media hype about those issues compared to the current one on Marius.
So did this “utterly adorable” giraffe have to die? Yes, he did, because of the natural and responsible reasons put forward by the Zoo. Do we want to have four headed giraffes due to inbreeding? That would definitely not add anything poetic to Denmark’s declining reputation.
International news outlets seem to be quite hooked on the bizarre doings of the Danes. With this pervasive narration I expect we will be entertained by more outrageous and exciting tales from Denmark in the coming year. But as the world’s media continues to obsess about the rotten state of Denmark, we – the Danish – are taking it easy and enjoying our free, happy, giraffe-slaughtering, hippie state.
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Has Denmark really done anything wrong? Have the international media blown everything way out of proportion? Do you think Denmark should have to answer for these acts? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Original article by Louisa Field for Jutland Station.