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The airline SAS, which is partly owned by Swedish, Norwegian and Danish taxpayers, is in a storm after its latest promotional video makes derogatory remarks about the origins of Scandinavians, claiming that their cultures do not exist.
What exactly is Scandinavian? Absolutely nothing.
Yes, with the absolute SAS opens its criticized commercial (see above) released earlier this week. Not unexpectedly, it sparked a public outcry that probably caused the SAS emergency management team to change their underwear once and twice. I'm probably last on the ball in writing about it, but still thought it might be interesting to break down what they actually say in the film.
Absolutely nothing is Scandinavian, is what they claim. "Everything is copied," they continue, and then highlight a number of whole and half-truths about how Scandinavian peoples over the centuries have taken foreign influences and ideas and made them their own. No wonder. No culture is an island. Except if we are talking about sentileserna of course, then it's actually literally a small, isolated island in the Indian Ocean.
Nor is there anything wrong with SAS's concluding assertion that openness is the hallmark of Scandinavia, and that the exchange of ideas has made our countries what they are today. We Scandinavians have always been curious about the outside world, we had good trade relations as early as the Bronze Age, we commuted to Constantinople in the Viking Age, and we have been very good at embracing new ideas and innovations, and even inventing a lot of innovations ourselves. Anything that could make life easier up here in the barren North.
But the unhistorical, derogatory and at the same time very Swedish claptrap the SAS company does is to pull a few threads in the enormous Scandinavian cultural fabric and say "Look! These threads come from other countries!", and on that basis discard the whole cloth.
According to SAS logic, there is no peculiar Danish culture and never has been because the raw material for Danish rye bread actually spread to Europe from
Turkey Anatolia a few thousand years ago. Similarly, the existence of our swedish christmas dismissed by the company Åhlens with the claim that the model for the plot was Turkish Greek (pure falsification of history).
I call this kind of self-hating behaviour Swedish, because it is far from being a new phenomenon in Sweden that people magnify everything foreign and diminish their own. The statistician Gustav Sundbärg wrote as early as 1911 in The Swedish Folklynnet:
Imagination puts everything that is distant in a brilliant light for the Swede. What lies just ahead he does not see. [...] The Swede is indifferent to his own, enraptured by all that lies far away.
Danish, Swedish, Norwegian - these are cultures that go back thousands of years in Scandinavia. For 5,000 years, our ancestors have cultivated the Scandinavian soil. For 5,000 years, Scandinavian farming cultures have developed their uniqueness. This is not new knowledge.
The truth is, of course, that the Scandinavian cultures not has been shaped not so much by the exciting dishes brought by returning tourists, but by the people who have lived here - generation after generation, millennium after millennium.
It is therefore difficult to take SAS commercials seriously. Man should not take it seriously. It must be seen for what it is, a stunt designed down to the last detail to push the right buttons, to provoke, to generate clicks, to make headlines. And headlines it made!
Against such marketing methods Allmogens always on the side of the Scandinavian trolls, fairies and small gnomes ❤️
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