Dehumanisation in Danish Marketing

Denmark hides behind two national myths to excuse itself from poor behaviour.

1: We are a homogenous nation without a history of having to get along with others

2: We have a unique sense of humour which magically stops anything from being in poor taste

Denmark is now part of a global community and however homogenous they mistakenly imagine their history, they have to get along with others.

Even though this has been true for a long time, it has not stopped them from being outrageously idiotic on their promotional material. Come with me now through the Hall of Shame:-

Those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Let me know in comments what I forgot.

Now I have handled why this shit is wrong before. I’m not going over it again.

I only bring it up because the Swedes complained about the masks in Haribo sweets and so Haribo won’t make them anymore. That means they won’t be available in Denmark.

Sweets stop being available all the time, Haribo don’t owe Denmark crude racial stereotype licquorice. You’d think Haribo not only stopped supplying sweets to Denmark but blocked other brands too, from the over reaction here.

The Metroxpress covered the story with good-natured bafflement about those ‘crazy politically correct Swedes‘ and rabble-rousing pieces about how ‘angry‘ Danes are at the Swedes for ruining their enjoyment of dehumanising sweets.

TV2 interviewed Professor of Philosophy Vincent F. Hendricks, who is half-American half-Danish. I won’t lie, when I saw him, I thought that tv2 had just found a black person to speak for all black people a la The Brass Eye.

The interviewer was bizarre and said that it was a slippery slope, that if you can’t have masks of crude racial stereotypes then you won’t be allowed to have ‘Jødekage’ any more (so-called ‘Jew cakes’ because they were sold in Jewish bakeries in the 1700s not because they are crude racial stereotypes of Jewish faces in biscuit form)

Hendricks was AMAZING. He started out with the homogenous national myth, as a gateway for the heavier criticism that he made. But he made it with love! It was great.

He said that Denmark has been able to get away with being provincial for a long time but now this shit is being noticed and the world will think that Danes are backwards peasants. He also asked why it is just black faces that get this treatment (though south-east Asian faces get it too), and what is it even for? I wish I could find a copy because I’d just put it up on here and not paraphrase wildly.

Anyway. It didn’t work, the Danes are still really into having not to think about de-humanising groups.

That last sentence was a sort of a test. If you were a Dane who got really agitated because I de-humanised you by saying you are all into not having to think about de-humanising groups whilst simultaneously not being all that bothered about the masks, you are a fucking hypocrite.

Homogenous or not, Denmark has to wake up and stop being so childish. This stuff is hurtful. This stuff makes lives harder. Your children don’t come into the world being mouthbreathing peasant scum, YOU make them that way. You do it by having sweets that encourage your children to think that certain groups are only caricatures. You are the reason that when ever I teach Danish kids about Japan or China and I ask what they know already, they reach for their eye corners to stretch them back. You are the reason that white Danish children attack black Danish children with crude racial abuse. You are encouraging it. By saying ‘these groups are not human really’, you are setting your children up to attack them.

And it affects the adults in your country, contributing to micro aggressions (and macro aggressions, face it), which affect the lives of people with facial features being caricatured in these products.

The problem isn’t that crazy Swedes cannot take a joke or Haribo have set themselves up as moral arbiters or black people should realise that intent is magic (“I don’t mean it to be offensive: it isn’t!”) The problem is that Danish people still think that black and Asian people are not all the way human.

So it shows up in Danish culture a lot. It shows up and reinforces the idea over and over. You are all so used to it, you do not see how toxic and off putting it is.

The Swedes want to stop reinforcing it, Haribo don’t want to make a brand of confectionary just for one country especially after conceding it was racist.

Denmark has to evolve or die. It’s not good enough to continue being a hick country with hay in your mouth. It’s not good enough to say you didn’t realise it was racist so it isn’t racist. It’s not good enough to say that since it amuses you, it is acceptable. It’s not good enough to say that since you believe that black people only moved to your country a short time ago, it is not a problem.

You want and need foreigners to do the jobs your own people are incapable of doing. They won’t come here if they think you are racist pieces of shit. They won’t visit you as tourists. They won’t buy your butter cookies at Christmas. YOU will become a joke. Worse than a joke because no one thinks it is exactly funny that you are racist.

12 thoughts on “Dehumanisation in Danish Marketing

      1. I used to cycle past the factory every day on the way to work.

        The pedagog at my kid’s daycare couldn’t understand why I was shocked to see a copy of “Little Black Sambo” on the bookshelf – yes really.

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    1. Yeah! That’s interesting. How old we talking?
      Hunger Games is children’s literature and it is brutal, but then again it’s for teens not little children.

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  1. I’m truly glad I stumbled upon this blog.

    I’m a biracial Dane, born in Denmark, now living in Canada. It’s truly shocking after having been away for so long and having internalized some of the critical race consciousness that exists in North America to come back to Denmark and see the antiquated attitudes towards racialized minorities.

    I was home for all of a few days this past summer before I was confronted by the typical racist garbage that accompanies not looking like your average blonde-haired, blue-eyed Viking. I was in the country looking at some “ølpølser” which I hadn’t seen in awhile and have terrible memories of. I said the word in disgust – the lady at the counter looked at my full-blooded Danish half-brother and remarked how funny I sounded and that she had some “others” like me working in the back, referring to the migrant labourers she employed – not realizing, of course, that I speak the language fluently and could understand everything she said.

    Just a minor taste of one’s daily experiences as a racialized person in Denmark.

    That “Sort Arbejde” series is truly disgusting by the way, I felt terrible for the immigrant family whose cleaning business they were documenting that they didn’t realize how they were being used as modern-day minstrels.

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  2. I’ve spent the past couple of hours reading your posts from 2009-11 and it’s really eye opening stuff. It’s cleared my head of any delusions I had about Denmark becoming a different place in the 15 or so years since I left.

    Toronto is certainly not a city without it’s share of xenophobia-related issues, but there’s really something to be said about a place where people get called out on the regular for transgressing the entirely appropriate boundaries that have been set up to protect minorities from overt and covert forms of racist harassment. And yes, some white Canadians might walk around with racist thoughts in their head but it’s a marked improvement when they’re forced to keep those thoughts to themselves rather than have public platforms like DR and TV2 to spew their venomous, hateful bile. If you ever give up on Denmark, I highly encourage you to pay Canada a visit. Not the most socially progressive by any means and Canadian multiculturalism is fraught with issues, but definitely far more harmonious and welcoming to foreigners than most Danes could ever imagine (or desire, for that matter).

    Again, I’m sincerely grateful that you’ve offered up your experiences to the internet like this, it does a tremendous service for those who might otherwise have bought into the reprehensible “Denmark = happiness embodied” campaign.

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    1. I’d love to visit Canada.

      I liked how in the UK people were careful about what they said/who they were racist with. I REALLY liked that.

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