What's up, Europe? Gender, media and European integration. The story of a a young Dane exploring the continent.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

More than the little mermaid

"In the Danish sense security is to have a bottle opener tied to your rocking chair"

- Benny Andersen, Danish author

The cartoon crisis fuelled a big debate on what it means to be Danish - not just locally in Denmark but internationally as well. What those Danes are about really puzzled media world-wide; among these the famous current affairs programme 60 Minutes and Comedy Central's The Daily Show.

To me, born and raised in Denmark, the descriptions that capture the best what it means to be Danish are those of writer Benny Andersen. His poem collection 'Cosmopolitan in Denmark and other poems about the Danes' is a great reader for anyone who wishes to understand the illusive concept of 'Danish-ness' a little better.

Reading Andersen's poems is also a great way of escaping the stereotypes that are often applied to Denmark and its citizens; a fairy tale nation, the home country of Hans Christian Andersen, a cornucopia of pastries, butter cookies and hot-dogs. No wonder, people were so surprised when the cartoon crisis broke out. How could this cute, prosperous miniature country suddenly become object of the anger of millions? Andersen gives insight into a Danish identity that is a lot more complex and ambiguous than the glossy picture often painted by mass media.

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