If it ain’t about you…

My boyfriend bought a tv and arranged for cable to be hooked up to it. So, now I have tv and cable. One of the new features is a bit like iplayer but for DR, where you can watch popular Danish tv programmes whenever you want. Imagine the possibilities!

One series you can watch is called Verdens Bedste (The World’s Best) and is about the culture of Denmark, seen through outsiders’ eyes. It is introduced thusly (I may be paraphrasing, I didn’t transcribe and I caught it a few days ago):

“Welcome to Verdens Bedste where we talk to people living in the world’s best country.”

The episode I caught was about how well Danes take criticism.

They had a Hungarian who had been in Denmark for a million years and a Norwegian who spoke Norwegian but I don’t know if that means he was fresh off the boat or just bloody minded. He got subtitles but the people he was talking to didn’t seem to need them.

Anyway. The Hungarian said “Danes are great at taking criticism as part of a community debate. You can argue and criticise as much as you like in situations such as elections but as soon as they are removed from others, they cannot take it. You cannot as much as say ‘I think your interior decorating could be improved in the following ways’ without causing a major international incident.” (alright, I’m REALLY paraphrasing now)

The Norwegian said “I think also they can’t take it when it comes from a foreigner….for reasons that will be forgotten by the blogger reporting on this episode.”

And then even though it was interesting, I stopped watching it because the Dane interviewing them looked more and more uncomfortable like he was going to explode and I couldn’t watch anymore. It was awkward-funny like in The Office. I know I will return to the episode another time. I know I will.

I know it is true, what they are saying. There are plenty of Danes who will listen calmly and reasonably to any level of constructive criticism and even to baseless whining. They will listen, they may agree, they may disagree. But there is a school of thought that goes

“Shut up shut up shut up. Lalalala. I’m not listening!”

Obviously, I am used to fielding such responses from these mindless gonks. I now have the “pleasure” of watching the same conversations play out on repeat on other sites, not least the Copenhagen Post. (An opinion piece that went viral about a study showing a pedagogue being racist to children under the cover of “healthy eating” advice has been attacked by dandroidic numbnuts.)

There are maybe a dozen main thrusts of “argument” in the case where the mothership has been insulted.

1) You are biased (when you express an opinion. I am objective when I do the same.)

2) You should be grateful. (For all that DK has given you)

3) It is worse in any number of countries

4) Other things, unmentioned by you, are worse in YOUR country. HA!

5) You don’t know all the facts, you are selectively reporting the facts you do know

6) You are anonymous, this invalidates what you have to say/I know something about you which invalidates what you have to say

7) No one is forcing you to stay in the country. Leave

8) You have got the intentions of the person/people you are talking about wrong, I, without any extra knowledge of the situation (e.g. being that actual person), have got the intentions of the person right

9) It has to be that way because of reasons. Oh you want to KNOW what the reasons are? Um. Well they just exist.

Ok, I can’t make it to a dozen. I am sure I am missing some classics.

What is the worst thing about Denmark, and bear in mind I have been poisoned with mercury, shouted at by a sarcastic doctor during a medical emergency and it is PISSING it down and has been all day and is going to all week, the worst thing about living here are these depressing arguments.

What is more depressing, so this is building up like some sort of layer cake now, is that the people who use these arguments are upset. If someone says something like “A study showed a pedagogue was racist all year,” you do NOT (note the capitals, those are for emphasis), take it personally. Unless  you are the racist pedagogue, obvs. If someone says, “I don’t like it when people imply I am retarded because I speak Danish with an accent,” you must NOT get all riled up and tell them to move countries. If someone says, “It is distressing that Denmark deports children without their parents,” it’s NOT the time to point fingers because your face is starting to get hot and you want the other person to feel defensive too.

Fuck ME, dandroids. Get some better material, you losers! Seriously. It’s like these people had their brains wiped and replaced with some bullshit generator. And CALM DOWN, no one is saying YOU are a penis. They are saying someone in your country is a penis. No one is saying that YOU are racist. They are saying your system is racist.

Yes, I know, there are some fucking idiots in my country and they are derivative and unoriginal. But at least they’re not in positions of responsibility. That sort are nicely siphoned off into areas where they can cause the least amount of harm, like message boards. But in Denmark, for every five wankers I “meet” online, I meet one in real life and when it happens seems to be totally at random. It could be a friend of a friend. It could be a colleague. It could be … no, wait, those are pretty much the only Danes I meet who fit this bill. So. They’re from one of those two areas.

The reason I am with my boyfriend, even though he forced me to get a tv, is that when he is wrong he is also original and/or he has thought about what he is going to say. We rarely agree on anything when we have a debate but I value that he has a brain and he uses it. He is also respectful of difference and does not go for any cheap shots.

That is all we are asking, Dandroids, that you listen, have a think and then respond with respect even if it hurt your iddy biddy feelings that someone did not like every single thing about your countwy.

13 thoughts on “If it ain’t about you…

  1. We should make another Danbingo card for this. The previous one found in Oneliners4Dk only contains what Danes used to say to (newbie) foreigners. We can name this as shit Danes say to foreigners when they get insulted.


      1. And the most annoying part is the ones who think much higher of their peers than they should. They really have the highest expectations of fellow Danes, don’t they? The Danes who swear this just doesn’t happen, because Danes are kind and tolerant. What alternate reality do they inhabit? What other nationality thinks the very best of their fellow man?


      2. Yes, like I got into a conversation about trying to buy a pregnancy test. Ok, so I couldn’t find them in the shop so I had to ask and I had a bit of a banter and then I paid and then as I was turning to leave, she goes (in that high tone of voice that says “I am now making a joke!”)
        “Are you going to be able to understand the instructions!!!”
        and I said “Yes, I can read, thanks”

        Not that pregnancy test instructions are War and Peace, but ok.

        Now I was telling this to someone as in “I did not go to school for twenty years to get called illiterate by someone who works in a chemist just because I have an accent when I speak my third language!” and he said

        “She was trying to be nice. She was trying to help you. How was she supposed to know you can read? She doesn’t know how to be sensitive about such things.”

        If those things were true, she would have whispered it while ringing up the purchase,

        “Would you like me to go over the instructions?”
        or EVEN BETTER:-
        “Have you used one of these brands before?”

        Not yelled it at me in full-jokey-“of course you can’t understand the instructions look at you”-voice…

        But this guy was all heart (for her) and kept coming back to it, even as I brought up more clear cut examples of bad behaviour in other areas.

        He wasn’t there, he doesn’t know her and yet he is able to tell me that MY impression of the situation was wrong and HER intentions were pure.

        No. She was being a fucking bitch, I know what that looks like.


  2. Right on as usual :) This sounds just like the “discussions” in my house when I dare to insult the halfassery of the systems/policies here, or the shitty selections in the shops. Imagine what would happen if I REALLY said what was on my mind…lol!


  3. Please write a book.
    It could be an anthropological study, a political observation, a travelogue (ish) or a sit com. Please write a book!
    TV? You? ~fans self~ Never thought I would hear of the day…


      1. I really really really wish you would write a column on Denmark for The Guardian or someplace like that! Wish all my literate friends would start writing for the liberal papers and puncture a few of these myths about the Socialist Shangri La.


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