I try to avoid TV. Not because of some sort of moral issue, mostly because when I do something I get completely engrossed in it. Regardless of how mind numbing it might be. Because the drivel that is shown on Swedish TV (much of it horrible American drivel) is incredibly mind numbing, my TV tends to be off and gathering dust.
Sometimes though, in lapses of judgment I turn it on. Usually flipping through the channels in disgust before settling for the lesser of two evils. American TV with Swedish subtitles.
In a moment of weakness a little while ago I stumbled across a show, which will remain nameless not to preserve any sense of impartiality but simply because I don’t remember what show it was. It was the commercial in between the show that caught my attention. A commercial for The Amazing Race.
Billed as some sort of reality TV show which skews reality because I have never been in a race with a teammate around the world while TV cameras followed, The Amazing Race is American TV at its most basic form. Bad. It’s been showing here in Sweden for a while now.
All that being said, the commercial was just too much for me. First, the fact that one team was introduced as “Idioterna,” the idiots was maybe not the best tone setter. They may be dumber than Helen Keller (see what I did there? Dumb? As in mute? It’s ok to laugh.) but it just seemed unnecessary.
Idiots are ok though. I know one or two. They amuse me for a while, some I even Facebook stalk for my own personal amusement. This makes me a horrible person. I know. It wasn’t the idiots comment that put it over the edge for me though. It was the following comment that, for some reason, brought the US as a nation into the mix.
“Just when you thought it was ok to start liking the United States again.” Let’s break this down. It implies quite a few different things. First, that people might actually like the US. This is a good thing. I like the US. But it also implies that people did not like the US and actually still haven’t decided that they do like the US. This is less of a good thing. Finally, it implies that one show, a reality show none the less, should be used as to determine positive feelings towards a nation the geographical size of Europe with 300 million citizens. Which makes perfect sense now that I think of it because the show did feature about 24 people or 0.00000008% of the population. What’s better? The season they are showing is from 2006.
My skin has thickened quite a bit since living abroad. I sit quietly as people do their America bashing and stew internally, which is actually very good for your mental health. When I first moved here, it bothered much more than it does now. I accept that people don’t agree with the American way of life. The politics. The religion. The consumerism. That’s fine. That realization is one of the reasons I like to travel. But sometimes it gets to be too much.
When it becomes a central theme of a marketing campaign I have to question the ethical issues of bashing a nation based on a reality show, not on a private basis, but on Swedish TV. Swedes bitch and moan about sexism in advertising. Advertising that targets children. Strangely, they have no problems with advertising that attacks an entire nation.
Welcome to Sweden. Where America bashing makes for good marketing.
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