Monday, June 20, 2011

Celebrity Spotting in Sweden

I had a celebrity sighting the other day. I’m not very good at celebrities. Not in the US, and especially not in Sweden. But I enjoy Filip och Fredrik, despite never remembering which is which. They entertain me. Which is really all I ask from people. I’m a simple man. But I saw one of them. The short one. At a café. I did not speak to him; I did not even acknowledge his existence. Essentially, I delved into my inner-Swede. And I was not alone.

Living in the places that I have back in the US doesn’t make for a lot of celebrity sightings. Unless you count the local cow baron millionaire back in Greeley. But I don’t. The closest thing to celebrity in most of the places I have lived were the athletes. And by athletes, I mean student athletes. And it just weirds me out to get too excited about 18-20 year olds who play a game. Even though I do love those games.

Some people though tend to get a bit excited. Not just about athletes, but about celebrity. There’s the classic 13 year old screaming girl. The sneaky autograph hound. The apologetic, I’m your biggest fan. The creepy old man. The creepy old woman. Then there’s the take a glance but ignore. Which is where I come in. And apparently a large number of Swedes in my vicinity at the time.

Not a single person approached him. It was a busy café. In the middle of one of those beautiful Stockholm summer days that convinces tourists that they should move here (always visit in November before you decide to move here. Always. Just trust me.). Part of me was shocked. This is a man who is relatively ubiquitous on TV. But not a single soul said a word. It was quite refreshing really. Mostly because my image of celebrities out on the town tends to be a mob of the 13 year old screaming girl type.

Maybe my reaction to this has something to do with Sweden being small. Or about the US being overly obsessed with celebrity. Maybe it is because he’s a small man and he blended in with his surroundings. Maybe it’s because no one else thinks he’s funny. Or maybe, just maybe, people saw that he was out enjoying a lovely Stockholm summer day and left him the hell alone. I hope so.

Welcome to Sweden. And reticence.

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  1. Filip - short name, short man!
    Fredrik - long(er) name, tall man!

  2. I was born in Sweden but my parents moved to the U.S. when I was a baby. We returned to Sweden every other year to visit family. We were in Stockholm during one of our visits. I was about 10 years old and a huge, huge ABBA fan. My aunt and I went to NK to buy the brand new ABBA LP, Voulez-Vous. On our way back home who did we spot but Frida. Of course, I asked her to sign my newly purchased ABBA LP, which she did, very graciously. I still have it, and I am still a big ABBA fan. Incidentally, I saw both Frida & Benny around Stockholm during subsequent visits and I never said a word to them -- nor did anyone else. How nice that celebrities can be left alone there, save for the occasional pesky preteen girl...

  3. Hmmm...I don't know if it's a Swedish thing so much as a small vs large city thing? Or maybe a cosmopolitan thing? If you lived in say, Brentwood, CA and saw a bunch of celebrities around, you wouldn't think twice about it (as I did when I lived there). Go to touristy areas, or somewhere where seeing a "celebrity" might be the only thing going on there, and you might see the celebrity-fan freak out. I wonder if something similar happens in Sweden. No one might bat an eye in Stockholm, but if you saw Filip in the backwater, you might see people get excited. My MiL from the north still gets excited about her autograph from one of the ABBA guys...


  4. I think it's cool that people respected his privacy :o) In that sense, Swedish reticence is a good thing. I read Alexander Skarsgård say something similar (about how he doesn't get chased by paparazzi in Sweden as he does in L.A.), which is a good thing, IMO :o) Although once I went to an NBA game and saw Michael Jordan, and despite being a huge fan, couldn't even shout out something to him. Celebrity is sometimes intimidating for true fans too :o)

    P.S. - If you see Skarsgård in Sweden this summer, take a photo and get an autograph!!!!! Or else don't bother coming back to the States!! :P

  5. I was in Gavle a few weeks ago and dining at a restaurant when Markcoolio (sp?) came in to dine with his family. He had just been in concert at Furuvik amusement park next door. As an American who has not been in Sweden since 1991, I had no clue who he was, but I assure you everyone else at teh restuarant knew exactly who he was asn were very excited to see him, but we had the same experience. He and his family sat 50 feet from us for over an hour and not a single person at the restaurant approached his table. I really questioned if he was as big a celebrity as my friends said he was, untilt he next morning there was a 3-page article about him and his performance the day before in the local newspaper. Interesting.

  6. @Julia – oooh that’s a great way of remembering it. Good call.

    @Sue – it is a pretty nice celebrity culture there.

    @anonymous (AmericanHustru) – a good point.

    @Samantha – yeah, I would imagine it must be a bit of a change going from the US to Sweden.

    P.S. I didn’t see him. Sorry.

    @Jenna – that’s pretty cool actually. I appreciate that everyone else is pumped to see him, but not wanting to disturb the guy.