Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Danish blue
April 23, 2014 5:37 AM   Subscribe

Denmark has a demographic problem. The birthrate is at a 27 year low and not enough babies are being born to support an aging population. ?It's a matter of some urgency then to get Danes to procreate more, but how? Send them on holiday to get it on.
posted by MartinWisse (113 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I saw this before and thought that it was a well done ad. But maybe a little cryptoracist?
posted by 256 at 5:44 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Well, a bit distasteful to say the least, but somewhat nice to see a little acknowledgement of queer couples. Spies is not exactly renowned for their highbrow tact.
posted by Dysk at 5:48 AM on April 23


Metafilter: maybe a little cryptoracist?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:53 AM on April 23 [6 favorites]


So is the problem with the Danish birth rate really that Danish people aren't having enough sex? Because it's possible that they are having plenty of sex and are using birth control because they don't want to have kids right now. Are children more likely to be conceived on vacations because the Danes just aren't getting it on enough in frosty Denmark, or is it because people are more likely to forget birth control when they're not following their usual routine?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:57 AM on April 23 [6 favorites]


Things were subtle at first, what with the Eiffel tower popping up strategically in shots and then there was the champagne close-up, the key in the lock, and it all went out the window. All it needed was some train tunnels and a bunch of folks churning butter.

What's the cryptoracism angle? I'm assuming it's got something to do with immigration rates and demographics, but details would be appreciated.
posted by jquinby at 5:58 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


I'll be a father if they give me Danish citizenship. Now, to find a mother...
posted by josher71 at 6:02 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Right, I'm talking about immigration. Denmark is in no danger of becoming depopulated, it's just in danger of becoming less Danish. I can't look at this ad without seeing the "we have to outbreed the Arabs before they outnumber us" angle.
posted by 256 at 6:06 AM on April 23 [26 favorites]


There's also the fact that the only non-white person in the whole thing is one half of the presented-as-somewhat-ridiculous gay couple.
posted by Dysk at 6:10 AM on April 23


Also, those old people looked ridiculous! Let's get the pitchforks.
posted by iamck at 6:12 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]


Send them on holiday to get it on.
At least from reading the front page text, I understood this to mean there were travel grants from the government to go get it on. On the one hand, Scandinavia. Should this happen anywhere in the world, it would be Scandinavia. On the other hand, after seeing the video, the phrase is totally misleading. It's a spot for a travel agency and the only grant you get is a chance at 3 years of some baby supplies if you can "prove" conception happened during the trip. So there's that.
posted by whatzit at 6:29 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]


The Ovulation Competition is just Spies way of gong back to the brand ethos of being, like Simon Spies himself (NSFW), a bit naughty at all times. So if you conceive, you get a free trip for you + baby. It's also there to position Spies as a travel agent not just for childless couples and the Ibiza party types, but also to install in the consumers mind that they offer child-friendly holiday packages. Something that Scandinavians associate with Fritidsresor or Ving.

Or you know, cryptoracism.
posted by dabitch at 6:37 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


Will I need to generate a new keypair for this cryptoracism?
posted by dr_dank at 6:38 AM on April 23 [7 favorites]


It's kinda weird that they consistently translate 'undfanget' as 'made' in the subs - 'conceived' would be a much more correct and appropriate translation.
posted by Dysk at 6:40 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Denmark is in no danger of becoming depopulated, it's just in danger of becoming less Danish. I can't look at this ad without seeing the "we have to outbreed the Arabs before they outnumber us" angle.

Please. Explain for me how a Denmark which is less culturally Danish something one should not want to avoid?

You should understand 256 that in Scandinavia we are actually not even a little bit ashamed of our culture of gender equality, progressive social values, and non-violence and we're not actually that keen on seeing it replaced with a culture which is rather quite exactly the opposite.

A Denmark which is less culturally Danish and more culturally like the Arab states seems to me hardly a net gain for the world, but I guess if Danish women enjoyed the freedoms women in Yemen and Saudi Arabia enjoy they would have more time to crank out babies.
posted by three blind mice at 6:50 AM on April 23 [17 favorites]


"So is the problem with the Danish birth rate really that Danish people aren't having enough sex? Because it's possible that they are having plenty of sex and are using birth control because they don't want to have kids right now. Are children more likely to be conceived on vacations because the Danes just aren't getting it on enough in frosty Denmark, or is it because people are more likely to forget birth control when they're not following their usual routine?"
Well, I guess it makes more sense when you consider that the real problem the add is trying to address is Spies Rejser Travel's problem with not enough Danes using Spies Rejser Travel services.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:53 AM on April 23 [12 favorites]


You should understand 256 that in Scandinavia we are actually not even a little bit ashamed of our culture of gender equality, progressive social values, and non-violence and we're not actually that keen on seeing it replaced with a culture which is rather quite exactly the opposite.

So you believe that Danish-born children of Arab descent will automatically lean more toward the Arab culture than the Danish one? That's not even crypto.
posted by Etrigan at 6:56 AM on April 23 [29 favorites]


Goodness me, three blind mice, but that comment is quite a thing. Firstly, you are claiming that 256's comment was about cultural Danishness whereas it was actually about race. Also, taking up the smugly defensive position of "we are actually not even a little bit ashamed of our culture of gender equality, progressive social values, and non-violence" is disingenuous at best. Your final sentence, about "the freedoms women in Yemen and Saudi Arabia enjoy" is also both off-topic and inflammatory. This really does not feel like a good faith contribution and I think 256's point about the potentially racist implications of "quick, white people, have a lot of babies or there won't be enough of us" is a good one.

It seems like you might have a point to make about the challenges of maintaining a set of cultural values, and I'd be happy to hear it, but your comment here is really not that.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:57 AM on April 23 [15 favorites]


Denmark is hardly being inundated with immigration from Yemen or Saudi Arabia - that comparison is a non-sequitur at best.

So you believe that Danish-born children of Arab descent will automatically lean more toward the Arab culture than the Danish one? That's not even crypto.

Totally agree with the sentiment, but to be fair, they are included in the (falling) birth rate, no?
posted by Dysk at 6:59 AM on April 23


It probably should be noted that Denmark is the happiest place on earth. Correlated?
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:02 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


As an American, I'm always a bit baffled by statements like that. No matter what country you move here from, there's a 95% chance your children will be irreverent jeans-wearing capitalists just like the rest of us.

Also... those people are LEAVING oppressive countries for a reason. Maybe, like, wanting to be less oppressed, and gleefully adopt the Danish way of life?
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:03 AM on April 23 [5 favorites]


Fantastic, what a threadwreck this is.
posted by dabitch at 7:07 AM on April 23


The imagery was a bit much.

On the comments here: rather than raising a generation of children, no matter their genetic roots, on the wonderful values of place X wouldn't the better way of demonstrating the superiority of ones culture (in a bit of a Culture fashion) be to convert people coming from place Y to the world view of place X by dint of how much better things are in place X?

And back to the video: we really would benefit from fewer births and a gentle drawing down of the population rather than the opposite. It'd be great if we had a, through no physical action, a small population that universally had access to the sum of resources 300 years of industry and agricultural revolutions I've-lost-count-of without anyone (by coincidence of birth or circumstance) having to sit on the sidelines of civilization, looking in on all the glorious future-stuff we have/will have.

So this sort of thing really rubs me the wrong way on so many levels.
posted by Slackermagee at 7:09 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


As an American, I'm always a bit baffled by statements like that. No matter what country you move here from, there's a 95% chance your children will be irreverent jeans-wearing capitalists just like the rest of us.

Also... those people are LEAVING oppressive countries for a reason. Maybe, like, wanting to be less oppressed, and gleefully adopt the Danish way of life?


I'm not saying I support it, but the view is quite the opposite with regards to Muslims in Europe. "Non-integration" is a political issue for a substantial minority of the voting public, and political parties everywhere are making hay.
posted by Thing at 7:10 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


That was a great location specific travel advertisement for France.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:20 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying I support it, but the view is quite the opposite with regards to Muslims in Europe. "Non-integration" is a political issue for a substantial minority of the voting public, and political parties everywhere are making hay.
Right, but I think that's the context that makes the whole natalist do-your-duty-and-reproduce-for-your-country thing, starring conspicuously white people, seem potentially crypto-racist. I don't know that natalism is always bound up with racism and anti-immigrant sentiment, but it certainly sometimes is.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:21 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


The interesting subtext of this ad is that paternity is not important.
posted by Brian B. at 7:26 AM on April 23


How did you read that into it?
posted by dabitch at 7:27 AM on April 23


I don't think I'm seeing that. I assumed that the couple were both Danish.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:28 AM on April 23


This ad is hilarious, but it seems so misplaced. The reason Danish couples don't have children is they don't want to. They are planning for smaller families. They are having sex, they are simply using contraception. Going to Paris for a weekend of sex romp isn't going to change that.

I do however love the word "ægløsningsrabat". Ovulation Discount. It's sort of hideous.
posted by Nelson at 7:29 AM on April 23 [5 favorites]


How did you read that into it?

It's the premise of failing at home, then trying (others) abroad.
posted by Brian B. at 7:34 AM on April 23


While the focus of the commercial is on the young woman, I suspect the heavy emphasis on Making More Danes indicates they're advertising couples vacations.
posted by griphus at 7:37 AM on April 23


So 7 billion isn't enough?
posted by Slinga at 7:37 AM on April 23 [6 favorites]


Right, but I think that's the context that makes the whole natalist do-your-duty-and-reproduce-for-your-country thing, starring conspicuously white people, seem potentially crypto-racist. I don't know that natalism is always bound up with racism and anti-immigrant sentiment, but it certainly sometimes is.

I think conspicuousness is in the eye of the beholder.
posted by Thing at 7:41 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Russia tried something similar a few years back. I'd be curious if these sorts of campaigns/stunts really accomplish much of anything other than conversation material. The Post article seems to hint that it sort of works:

Ulyanovsk, about 550 miles east of Moscow, has held similar contests since 2005. Since then, the number of competitors, and the number of babies born to them, has been on the rise.

...but it's never said whether or not they've been enough to shift a demographic trend.
posted by jquinby at 7:46 AM on April 23


Brian, the ad is for couples, not women dashing off the Paris and seducing the nearest frenchman. The competition is only for couples who travel together.
And again, while everyone here is beanplating, it's just an advertising strategy to try and position Spies travels away from the young club med Ibiza party-crew and into the bigger spending family travel group, where Spies travels has a lot of competiton and is lagging behind. It's not sponsored by the Danish state or some sort of master plan to make more ethnically Danish babies to compete with the large Pakistani population.
posted by dabitch at 7:49 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


And again, while everyone here is beanplating, it's just an advertising strategy...

"Just" being an ad doesn't mean it isn't tapping into some kind of ugly stuff, even if only a little.
posted by Etrigan at 7:52 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


I really think people who are not Danish are trying way to hard to read their own prejudices into it, to be honest.
posted by dabitch at 7:54 AM on April 23 [10 favorites]


Getting robbed in twice (in one day) in Paris tends to mitigate against sexytimes. Just trust me on this.
posted by Danf at 7:57 AM on April 23


I really think people who are not Danish are trying way to hard to read their own prejudices into it, to be honest.

Judges, is this close enough to "people are just looking to be offended"?

Ding ding ding.

We have a winner.
posted by Etrigan at 7:58 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]


Judges, is this close enough to "people are just looking to be offended"?

I think it is more a case of "US universalism" where people (from the US) assume that social, political, or cultural knowledge from the US can be universalized without problem.
posted by Thing at 7:59 AM on April 23 [18 favorites]


Etrigan, your US-centric line doesn't apply in Denmark, where racism looks different. I'm speaking from I have lived there for more than ten years experience. It's offensive is people not listening to those who have experience with both a culture and the topic of the post - ads.
posted by dabitch at 8:01 AM on April 23


...dashing off the Paris and seducing the nearest frenchman...

This is the ad being run by the French Board of Tourism, coincidentally.
posted by griphus at 8:02 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]


I think it is more a case of "US universalism" where people (from the US) assume that social, political, or cultural knowledge from the US can be universalized without problem.

256 is Canadian.

And dismissing criticism of this ad based on where people are from... that doesn't seem just the tiniest bit ironic to you?
posted by Etrigan at 8:08 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


I can't look at this ad without seeing the "we have to outbreed the Arabs before they outnumber us" angle.

Are we talking about the same ad? The one with a same-sex couple in there? (And one of the men is by no means blonde and blue-eyed.) The ad looked to me like a harmless ad, more like Danes poking fun at themselves.

It shouldn't be relevant but: Mexican-American here living in the UK. I'd like to think I know what racism looks like.
posted by vacapinta at 8:10 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


And dismissing criticism of this ad based on where people are from... that doesn't seem just the tiniest bit ironic to you?

When somebody tells you that you need to listen to people from other cultures, the best option is not to double-down on not listening to people from other cultures.
posted by Thing at 8:13 AM on April 23 [5 favorites]


And dismissing criticism of this ad based on where people are from... that doesn't seem just the tiniest bit ironic to you?

When somebody tells you that you need to listen to people from other cultures, the best option is not to double-down on not listening to people from other cultures.


I agree wholeheartedly. Care to tell the Scandinavians in this discussion that?
posted by Etrigan at 8:15 AM on April 23


To recap, a Canadian and an American have now decided what the Danish ad, targeted at Danes and populated with a cross section of Danish people is really all about, and the Swedish&Danish people in the thread should STFU? Am I getting this right now?
posted by dabitch at 8:19 AM on April 23 [6 favorites]


Reminds me of the OOH and print advertising campaign from Crazy People: "Come IN the Bahamas." In the movie it turned out to be very successful - as was the run on Metamucil induced by truth in advertising.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:20 AM on April 23


I agree wholeheartedly. Care to tell the Scandinavians in this discussion that?

Huh? They need to be quiet and let somebody USplain their own culture to them?
posted by Thing at 8:22 AM on April 23 [9 favorites]


Oh good, so I'm not the only one to interpret said comment that way.
posted by dabitch at 8:23 AM on April 23


To be fair, this line of discussion did start with an implication that Arabs are just itching to turn Europe into a repressive Muslim theocracy. I don't think it's, like, totes UScentric to have an issue with that.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:31 AM on April 23 [18 favorites]


To recap, a Canadian and an American have now decided what the Danish ad, targeted at Danes and populated with a cross section of Danish people is really all about, and the Swedish&Danish people in the thread should STFU? Am I getting this right now?

When someone says that something is "maybe a little cryptoracist" and "tapping into some kind of ugly stuff, even if only a little", that's not "what the ad is really all about" or "STFU". People can say "Hey, this seems a little troubling" without saying "You are big fucking racists."

So go ahead, dismiss it as "just an ad." But you also have someone in this thread who's defending it explicitly based on the idea that Arabs are going to tear down Scandinavian culture. Are you sure you want to reflexively stand firm with that on your side?
posted by Etrigan at 8:33 AM on April 23 [10 favorites]


So 7 billion isn't enough?

7 billion Dutch? We're going to need taller doorways.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:39 AM on April 23 [9 favorites]


Although if you say it is "cryptoracist" the, you are saying "you are a big fucking racist".
posted by josher71 at 8:47 AM on April 23


So you believe that Danish-born children of Arab descent will automatically lean more toward the Arab culture than the Danish one?

If a society does cultural assimilation very poorly and its immigrants tend to live in isolated ghettos, that doesn't seem like much of a stretch.

I don't really know if that's how the Danes do immigration and cultural assimilation though, so I'm not making that accusation per se, but pointing out that it doesn't seem impossible on its face for it to be untrue. I don't have enough information to be sure, but it's not implausible.

Integrating new people takes a lot of work. The US, which is built on successive ways of immigrants, does it almost automatically (and sometimes to the chagrin of people who don't want to assimilate as completely as their children decide to). But historically, that has not always been the case, particularly when immigrant groups feel rejected or marginalized.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:51 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Fornication Vacation!
posted by Kabanos at 8:52 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


"To recap, a Canadian and an American have now decided what the Danish ad, targeted at Danes and populated with a cross section of Danish people is really all about, and the Swedish&Danish people in the thread should STFU? Am I getting this right now?"
That is not at all what they we're saying, but if you don't want to have a conversation about this in an international context that doesn't necessarily take the Nordic style nationalist assumptions three blind mice is communicating so clearly for granted then maybe an international website is not the best choice.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:56 AM on April 23 [7 favorites]


And more glasses of milk for lunch. Except those are Dutch and these are Danes. Not the same.
posted by 1adam12 at 8:57 AM on April 23


Perhaps the ad was just …

[sunglasses]

… poorly conceived.

YEEEOOOWW
posted by Kabanos at 9:05 AM on April 23 [22 favorites]


When someone says that something is "maybe a little cryptoracist" and "tapping into some kind of ugly stuff, even if only a little", that's not "what the ad is really all about" or "STFU". People can say "Hey, this seems a little troubling" without saying "You are big fucking racists."

The trouble is, using a word like "cryptoracism" suggests that the commenter is capable of reading racism in subtle details or coded words and images. Given that a) the advert is 2 minutes long, and b) in a language that only a handful of people in this thread speak (subtitles aren't going to get you far), I think any claims of finding cryptoracism are farfetched. It's like suggesting that a Danish speaker will understand that the words "states' rights" when translated into Danish mean anything more than the tension between federal and state government.

Or when, now and again, some politicians in Europe come up with the idea to ban child circumcision or restrict ritual slaughter. In the US they are widely denounced as anti-semitic, but in Europe they're obviously anti-Muslim.
posted by Thing at 9:13 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


Man, this thread at the same time as the MetaTalk thread is just sad. Looks like "international" still means "American", one post is generalised into "Nordic style nationalist assumptions", which I guess we all blindly submit to... perhaps people should take a quick look at that thread I linked, hm?
posted by Pyrogenesis at 9:18 AM on April 23


Well, as somebody who actually lives in Amsterdam and is therefore entitled to comment on Danish matters, I'd argue that Denmark does have a bit of a reputation for being somewhat cluelessly racist occasionally, which the video can be considered an example of.

And while it is true that USAnians do tend to see everything in the context of USAnian norms (but which country doesn't), I'd also argue that on the whole it's more clued in to racism and racially dodgy representations than many European countries, if only because it has had to for much longer.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:47 AM on April 23 [13 favorites]


People in this thread are acting as if this is a government effort to make more Danes, and explaining that it's "just an ad" shilling trips is apparently "dismissive" of cryptoracism rather than "descriptive" or what we are actually looking at, If I am parsing Etrigan's most recent comment correctly. (FWIW, I said advertising strategy).
posted by dabitch at 9:54 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


How does living in Amsterdam make you more entitled to comment on Danish matters? Am I missing something?
posted by dabitch at 9:55 AM on April 23


I think that was a joke. But he may also be indicating that he's not American and therefore that you can't use that tack to discredit him.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:57 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


What subtlety which is lost in sub-title translation could possibly make this concept not-at-all-racist? On the face of it, there is a simple solution to not enough babies are being born to support an aging population and that's "Let in more immigrants."

There is no shortage of young people in the world, after all. It is just a local shortage.

So what is wrong with all those non-local young people, that you wouldn't solve the local shortage by just inviting them in?
posted by OnceUponATime at 10:02 AM on April 23 [5 favorites]


Let in all the third worlders who want to immigrate. They'll fix that in no time!
posted by Renoroc at 10:06 AM on April 23


I think it was mentioned further up. Pride in a bunch of good glorious things that are apparently tied to the Scandinavian race or something.
posted by deathmaven at 10:07 AM on April 23


People in this thread are acting as if this is a government effort to make more Danes, and explaining that it's "just an ad" shilling trips is apparently "dismissive" of cryptoracism rather than "descriptive" or what we are actually looking at, If I am parsing Etrigan's most recent comment correctly.

I don't even understand what you're saying, so... maybe?

I'll try again: I understand that this is an advertisement from a non-governmental source. Even so, it puts forth an assumption that Denmark needs to make more babies. This argument is also often advanced by people -- like in this very thread -- whose worry is that Denmark needs to make more white babies, because the non-white immigrants are making more babies and pretty soon they're going to crash the welfare system and/or exert sharia law.

With that in mind, doesn't it seem a little potentially troubling that this ad may be seen to be relying on a similar premise? I have very little doubt that Spies is just drumming up business and doesn't actually think that there's an Arab tide about to engulf their beloved Denmark, but they're still using a premise -- that Denmark "needs more babies" -- that is often used as a dogwhistle.

And asserting that use of that premise cannot possibly be the slightest bit troubling because it's "just an advertising strategy" seems a little tone-deaf to me.
posted by Etrigan at 10:08 AM on April 23 [5 favorites]


Even so, it puts forth an assumption that Denmark needs to make more babies.

As a Danish speaker, with a firm understanding of the humor in that country, I wish I could babelfish to you how you're misreading the gag, but I'm afraid that I score yet another "They're just looking to be offended" point in that if I try, which is not my intention. The ad-skit making a joke on Spies naughty history to sell to two different targets at once. It's targeting 1) couples 2) young families, thereby repositioning the brand Spies in the mind of the Danish consumer.
posted by dabitch at 10:12 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


What does it mean for this to be troubling? One can find a dark side in a lot of comedy. Do we think a racist reading was intended, or that somebody will be using a racist reading to promote an agenda? Let's say we agree it is troubling - where do we take it from there?
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:15 AM on April 23


Racist or not, I find the way nations with a low birthrate keep panic mongering over that fact to be disturbing. A low birth rate is a GOOD thing. Yes t'here may be a short term bit of hassle, though that is always vastly exaggerated. But in the even slightly longer term the benefits are tremendous.

Japan routinely indulges in hand wringing about the Japanese birthrate, and invents kooky BS about young people being wimps for not having bundles of babies. Apparently that nonsense is spreading to Europe as well.

In the U.S. it normally takes the form of innumerate and completely unfounded panic over Social Security.

Allof it is so short sighted and gets the real problem, overpopulation, completelybackwards that it is endlessly frusturating.
posted by sotonohito at 10:21 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


If I have to be against US establismenarianism and against Danish establishmentarianism, which establishment is it okay to be for? Contrarianism is hardly an establishment.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:24 AM on April 23


> the presented-as-somewhat-ridiculous gay couple

They did not look the least bit ridiculous to me. What makes you say so?
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:29 AM on April 23


Danish humor is similar to British in that it uses a lot of irony and likes to play things out, even the absurd, with a completely straight face. I found when I lived in The Netherlands that this type of humor wasn't very well received (if spoken in non-Dutch) as Dutch speakers would generally think the ironic was genuine.

Sort of like how some might interpret an ironic jab on low birth rates to be an actual national panic.
posted by dabitch at 10:29 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Sort of like how some might interpret an ironic jab on low birth rates to be an actual national panic.

To be fair, low birth rates by whites is a major theme for the right (and not always the far right) in Europe, and has been for a long time. Obviously people aren't actually panicked enough about it to actually have more children, but the debate remains.

So the ad is at once charming and funny, and at the same time plays into some not-so-great political aspects. Both are true, though it's not at all clear how self-aware the company is about this.

The barely hidden (and sometimes fully open) racism was my least favorite part about my time there, for all that there are a million other wonderful things about the country.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:39 AM on April 23 [5 favorites]


Want 2 babies per couple?

1) Subsidize baby cost of living;
2) Make work more dependable and regular;
3) Make future less scary (will I have a work? will Wall Street steal my pension? Will I be able to afford decent housing, healthcare, etc?).

Guess that sums up the main points.
posted by elpapacito at 10:51 AM on April 23


This thread is now being discussed in Metatalk. (Starting from this point forward.)
posted by zarq at 10:51 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


But in the even slightly longer term the benefits are tremendous.

The benefits are only there if the birthrate returns to replacement levels at some point, not if they continue to be significantly below replacement indefinitely.
posted by Justinian at 10:52 AM on April 23


"Man, this thread at the same time as the MetaTalk thread is just sad. Looks like "international" still means "American", one post is generalised into "Nordic style nationalist assumptions", which I guess we all blindly submit to... perhaps people should take a quick look at that thread I linked, hm?"
As reflexively defensive as we all love to get about Americans having an opinion about anything, particularly when it involves qualities that are supposed to be an exclusively American problem, this thread has existed in that sweet spot between when the American insomniacs with any sense have all finally gone to sleep and most of the rest with any sense are either still at work or still in bed. I'm recognizing an awful lot of Brit and Continental usernames.
"Danish humor is similar to British in that it uses a lot of irony and likes to play things out, even the absurd, with a completely straight face. I found when I lived in The Netherlands that this type of humor wasn't very well received (if spoken in non-Dutch) as Dutch speakers would generally thing the ironic was genuine."
Having been on the receiving end of Danish humor communicated poorly in English before, this is really it. In the context of dry Danish humor, if the tone doesn't solidly position it as making fun of tbm's - lets diplomatically call it a position - the gay couple and particularly its non-white member contributing to the punchline at the end very much do. Danish 'ethnic nationalism', and the chilling kind of thinking inherent to considering native Danish babies in tbm's kind of way, though are an inherent part of this conversation worth unpacking - particularly with tbm's trolling right there.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:56 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


I think that's the context that makes the whole natalist do-your-duty-and-reproduce-for-your-country thing, starring conspicuously white people, seem potentially crypto-racist.

Denmark is overwhelmingly white. It would have been more conspicuous, not to say really strange, if the stars had not been white.

(Bonus link on the birth rate thing that started this whole Danish custard.)
posted by IndigoJones at 11:17 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


Denmark here (well, the Eurovision Song Contest is round the corner. In Denmark)

First of all, stating the obvious: immigrants/people of color are not having babies either. It's not about blond babes vs brown babies, because nobody is having enough babies. We have health-care, sex-ed and abortion rights. The woman in the ad is 30 - that's normal for having your first child, whatever your background.

This is an advertisement. It is targeting a very specific demographic, and thus wants to mirror this demographic. The advertisement is not only targeting young couples and young families, but specifically middle-middle-class people who are remotely likely to use a travel service like Spies. People who live in a nice house in a modest suburb and own cars; who enjoy holidays abroad but are not happy with risks. In this group, in Denmark, there are almost no people of color. Like Dabitch says, it is also referring to the company's founding history of sexual innuendo as a sales strategy.

Now, the reason there are almost no people of color in that particular demographic most certainly is due to racist policies. A huge percentage of immigrants are segregated into no future suburbs with bad schools and limited access to jobs. Those immigrants who are integrated are more likely integrated into academic, political or artistic groups in the larger cities, who are open to immigration but rarely buy package travels. In my view, that does not mean the ad has a racist undertone, or even that it is targeting a racist audience. The target group are not racist, they don't vote for racist parties and they don't fear being overrun by muslims. They just don't identify at all with people of color, and most of them may never have actually spoken with an immigrant, so the ad-company likely didn't think an Asian actor would contribute to the message.

TLDR: yes, Denmark has problems with racism. And no, while this commercial mirrors reality in Denmark (segregation and young middle-class people being very isolated from "other people"), it is does not have a conscious, or even sub-conscious undertone of racism.
posted by mumimor at 11:27 AM on April 23 [13 favorites]


USAnians

Jesus. And I thought USians was bad.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:28 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]


There's also the fact that the only non-white person in the whole thing is one half of the presented-as-somewhat-ridiculous gay couple.

If I were a gay Arab, I'd be pretty eager to emigrate to Denmark. [edit adding]
And yes, a Danish economy without enough working people support the aged is something that's bad for all Danes, gay or native or not.
posted by ocschwar at 11:36 AM on April 23 [5 favorites]


It's not about blond babes vs brown babies, because nobody is having enough babies.

People in other countries are. And many of them, and their kids, want to come to your country.
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:02 PM on April 23 [5 favorites]


Sure, but that's not something you can sell holidays to Danes with, is it?
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:05 PM on April 23 [4 favorites]


Canada has a low birth rate but slightly positive population growth due to mass immigration. This is sustainable because there are countries from which people emigrate which have high birth rates. Canada gets to have a stable-sized population without contributing to global population growth. Win-win.

I'm not saying Canada isn't racist. It is, particularly against First Nations and Muslim Canadians, to some extent in a government sanctioned way. I am saying that the shrinking populations of many western countries are evidence of racism. Well-nigh irrefutable evidence.

A shrinking population is thought to be bad but people who want to immigrate are being turned away...why? I see three options:

- Danish culture is so unattractive that immigrants will not want to contribute to it
- Danish culture is so unstable that a little multiculturalism will topple it
- Danish culture is awesome but those people can't join it because...?

Racism is the explanation of Denmark's shrinking population that is least insulting to Danes.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:11 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


The Telegraph from 2002: "Denmark leads the 'racist reaction'"
The real reason why the centre was packed on Wednesday night was that Copenhagen's large immigrant community had summoned a crisis meeting.

The topic was a controversial law on immigration that is now passing through parliament with the backing of 60 per cent of the Danish people. The legislation, introduced by the new centre-Right government that won power last November, will be on the statute book by mid-summer.

Its aim is to do something very "unDanish" - shut down national borders to more foreigners and slash their welfare payments, in some cases by over 30 per cent.

Requirements for asylum are being tightened, funding to ethnic minority organisations withdrawn, the waiting period for permanent residency extended from three to seven years, rights to family reunion curtailed, and rules put in place banning marriage by Danes to foreigners until the age of 24.

The laws - justified by the government on the grounds that Denmark has been too liberal and generous for too long - are causing inevitable resentment and confusion among its 300,000-strong immigrant community, 70 per cent of whom are Muslims.

"This is our home," said Ousman Sawaneh, a Somali with Danish citizenship. "But they are doing their level best to get us out."

Voices on the Danish Left are outraged by what they believe is a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment that has spun out of control, but they are outnumbered. "People still have a perception that Denmark is a country that respects human rights," said Kamal Qureshi, an MP from the Socialist People's Party. "It is simply incredible that the international community has not noticed what is going on. Here in Denmark we are passing extreme legislation that Jorg Haider [Austria's far-Right populist] couldn't even dream of."
Has this changed since?
posted by divabat at 1:08 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Perspective on Danish racism by a South Korean adoptee
The issue is further exacerbated by a cultural acceptance of casual racism. Our culture has never been particularly sensitive to race and is at times downright hostile to the idea of political correctness. We still bemoan the death of our right to call chocolate-coated marshmallow treats 'Niggerballs' as if it were some kind of divine right bestowed upon us by the Goddess of Free Speech. There exists a pervading sense in our culture that if there is no ill-intent behind a slur, that it cannot be construed as disrespectful, and that it is therefore a conscious choice to be offended. It seems to be a mimetic thought, contagious because it absolves the hegemony from guilt and responsibility. It is victim-blaming nonsense and, moreover, a self-righteous and arrogant notion. This kind of willful insensitivity towards minorities allows racism to be tacitly present in our culture.
posted by divabat at 1:10 PM on April 23 [5 favorites]


Would you like some cronuts or chocolate-coated marshmallow treats with your cryptoracist breeder advertisements?
posted by ChuckRamone at 1:29 PM on April 23


rules put in place banning marriage by Danes to foreigners until the age of 24.

The 24 year rule. The age of consent for born-Danes is 18. Wow.

Can we agree that laws impeding interracial marriage are racist?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:39 PM on April 23 [5 favorites]


divabat, there is not a simple answer to your question.
In a way, the second article, the interview with the adoptee is the one most descriptive of the situation today. Danes are infuriatingly unconscious of the racist idioms and preconceptions in Danish culture, and if you try to address this, you will be accused of lack of sense of humor. Which is very bad.
Since 2002, a lot of things have changed. On one hand, the racist DF party has grown huge, on the other hand, in order to achieve this broad backing, they have back-stepped on their racist ideology. While they were European racist frontrunners in 2002, today, they are almost social-democrats (I said almost).
A lot of Danish racism is provincialism and ignorance. From the 1870's and up till the 1970's, Denmark was almost monocultural, the only exceptions being the Jewish minority, the German minority, and the Atlantic minorities, all numbering less than 10.000 people. Also, these minorities were gathered in very few towns and cities, so most people never ever even met a person who was not ethnically Danish and protestant Christian. Although the 70's seem like a long time ago, this is the reality most living Danes grew up in, and relate to. This is the culture where the majority language about immigrants, adopted children, Jewish and Atlantic people was cultured. If you don't look minority, people say the craziest things, and take for granted you agree and understand.
And in 80 % of the country, this is still how it is. Like in any other part of the world, population is concentrated in a few urban areas, and in some of these areas, racism is rare (even while some of the provincial and ignorant ideas are just one layer down). Others are a hotbed for racist ideology. Copenhagen is almost entirely integrated, though there are pockets of hate. Odense (birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen) is controlled by the haters, even though good people live there, and try to change reality. Generally, the places which were tolerant of Jews 100 years ago are the places which are tolerant of immigration today. Together, these places house the majority of Danes today, but because of the very fair right of local autonomy, it is difficult to curb the very unfair racist policies in the intolerant areas.
Because no one here would do anything so explicitly racist that it could be brought to court.
posted by mumimor at 1:48 PM on April 23 [6 favorites]


The benefits are only there if the birthrate returns to replacement levels at some point, not if they continue to be significantly below replacement indefinitely.

This might be true if automation wasn't advancing quite so rapidly. I've seen it's dramatic effects in my own field (biology) and I know it's affecting other industries like manufacturing much, much more.

We've also seen the effect 7+ billion humans have had on our environment. It's great that our population growth seems to be stabilizing, but when the other seven billion people industrialize and try to attain the standard of living enjoyed by the ~400 million of us in the West, what happens then?

The need for limitless, perpetual growth despite existing in a closed system is a huge failing of capitalism.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 2:03 PM on April 23 [4 favorites]


All the automation in the world doesn't solve the problem of having increasing numbers of old sick people for every one young healthy worker!
posted by Justinian at 2:12 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


The crypto racist angle does seem crypto and seemingly unintentional, but I'll be damned if three blind mice wasn't able to ferret out that angle to support 256's take, and spell it out to anyone who's never heard a xenophobe's spiel.

Change Denmark/Dane to America/American/white, and Arab to Mexican, and this is the same thing American racists spout all the time.
posted by 2N2222 at 2:36 PM on April 23


I think it's important to note that even stupid and bad people can sometimes say things which are true, though usually for the wrong reasons. I mean even CNN sometimes accidentally gets stuff right. Or the conservatives on the Supreme Court being on the right side of Kelo. And so on.

It's not a bad thing for your TFR to hover around replacement. That's where we've all got to get to eventually after all.
posted by Justinian at 2:41 PM on April 23


All the automation in the world doesn't solve the problem of having increasing numbers of old sick people for every one young healthy worker!

The world as a whole does not have a shortage of healthy young people who want to live in Western countries. If your country is running short, import.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:48 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


All the automation in the world doesn't solve the problem of having increasing numbers of old sick people for every one young healthy worker!

It certainly could. Telemedicine and robots performing basic tasks with on-call assistance for more complex tasks are both within reach and will further multiply the ability of young healthy workers to provide for old sick people. And that's just the stuff we know is coming.
posted by Etrigan at 3:02 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


With all of the unemployed displaced by robots, there should be plenty of people with the time to take care of the elderly until robots displace workers from that field as well.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 3:22 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


Who cares for the increasingly large number of old robots?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:32 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]


The world as a whole does not have a shortage of healthy young people who want to live in Western countries. If your country is running short, import.

I strongly agree with this. I also believe there should be a one-state solution in Israel and that Kurds should have their own nation. I believe Tibet should be free to choose their own government, as should the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Immigrants to the Americas need to retreat to spaces the original populations can live with. In Africa, and in most of Europe and Central Asia, boundaries should be redrawn to reflect the nationalities of the peoples.

I hold all these conflicting beliefs because I am Danish and minority. We believe in the autonomy of local government and in Human Rights simultaneously. We love freedom of speech and hate dissent. Few Danes are racist, but most Danes are prejudiced. I hear my close friends say the most disgusting things, and yet I still dine with them and hold them as friends. In Denmark, bullying can be a sign of friendship. I hate this, but it is there.
A lot of what is good about Denmark had come out of Denmark's failures during the 19th century, where the state went from holding most of the North Atlantic + some strategic colonies (Norway, Greenland, Færøerne, Schleswig, Holstein, Denmark proper, posts in West India, India and Africa), and thus being multi-cultural, to being a tiny border state, always negotiating between the great powers of Russia, UK, France and emerging Germany. All the while profiting on pigs and butter which are prime commodities when the big forces are at war.
Because of the grand part of that history, Denmark has an urban culture of tolerance and multiculturalism, and because of the failures, Denmark has a folk-culture of inward-looking nationalism and romantic idealization of the homeland and its farms and folks. Hey, we are crazy-scizophrenic. Step up if the place you live is smarter.
posted by mumimor at 3:47 PM on April 23 [9 favorites]


starring conspicuously white people

I could be wrong but, if memory serves, ethnic Danes tend towards conspicuous whiteness.
posted by MikeMc at 4:29 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


I'm about as pro-immigration as it gets but I think it's misguided to pretend it's an easy and perfect solution to an ageing population. Immigrant populations tend to quickly trend towards the birth patterns of their host countries, so there's a sense in which you're just postponing the problem. Demographic models suggest that you need a huge number of immigrants for any kind of correction to age distribution, and that of course comes with additional strains - especially because immigrants need significant social support if they are to become well-integrated into society.
posted by lwb at 10:06 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Hmm. This thread is very interesting to read for me, as an American about to move to Denmark in a few months. I'm very much looking forward to living in Copenhagen, but I am worried about some culture clash issues- namely things like racism (which I've been warned about, actually by the first person who told me I should move there). Most of my experience with racism is from a US perspective; but when someone I associate with in the US acts racist, I call them out on it. Because, dude, that isn't cool. And I feel completely ok enforcing the norm here- it's not ok to say racist things or take racist actions.

Not that I think it is cool somewhere else, it isn't ok anywhere, but what exactly qualifies as racist- well, I definitely have an American perspective on that. And I don't want to be the arrogant American who assumes my perspective on all things is correct in some unambiguous way. And even if I'm pretty damn sure I'm right, well, what do I say? My current Danish capacity is basically "jeg hedder nat" so..?

FYI, mumimor, I currently live in Michigan. The place I live is definitely nuts, and definitely due to its history. Plenty of racism to go around here- the most ridiculous being the congressperson here who regularly sends around emails about her crusade against Asian carp. These carp are in invasive species and could actually devastate the ecosystem in the great lakes if they get that far; but I'm pretty convinced that this right-wing congressperson is for this very environmental concern because it allows her to send emails saying Asian *something* is bad. I sometimes wonder if she even realizes this is a fish species she's talking about.
posted by nat at 10:06 PM on April 23


especially because immigrants need significant social support if they are to become well-integrated into society.

Immigrants (particularly newer ones) are usually the ones paying for the support of the rest of society, because until their citizenship or even permanent residency is complete and processed they are still taxed but don't get a lot of access to social services. (And sometimes that's not enough - in Australia you have to wait two years after your PR is approved, which in itself can take ages, before you can start applying for Centrelink/social security.)
posted by divabat at 10:20 PM on April 23


"It certainly could. Telemedicine and robots performing basic tasks with on-call assistance for more complex tasks are both within reach and will further multiply the ability of young healthy workers to provide for old sick people. And that's just the stuff we know is coming."
You're operating from the assumption that the brave new techno future we are building for ourselves will more resemble Star Trek than Elysium.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:39 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Too-Ticky: > the presented-as-somewhat-ridiculous gay couple

They did not look the least bit ridiculous to me. What makes you say so?


The dress, stances, body language, and not least the exaggerated pout. In a Danish context it is definitely coded to be ridiculous. I can totally understand your objection - I live in the UK and generally move in queer circles, but my personal norms are not the norms the ad addresses, Danish cultural norms are.

elpapacito: Want 2 babies per couple?

1) Subsidize baby cost of living;
2) Make work more dependable and regular;
3) Make future less scary (will I have a work? will Wall Street steal my pension? Will I be able to afford decent housing, healthcare, etc?).

Guess that sums up the main points.


Denmark pretty much does all of that already, and has for a good while now.
posted by Dysk at 2:05 AM on April 24


Immigrants (particularly newer ones) are usually the ones paying for the support of the rest of society, because until their citizenship or even permanent residency is complete and processed they are still taxed but don't get a lot of access to social services. (And sometimes that's not enough - in Australia you have to wait two years after your PR is approved, which in itself can take ages, before you can start applying for Centrelink/social security.)

It's perhaps worth noting that in Denmark, you do have a history of a large portion of the immigration that happened being in the form of asylum-seekers. People fleeing the ravages of war are less likely to be immediate contributors to the economy, more likely to need support, and have definite rights to some degree of support (in addition to which, the stipulations on having less access to social services until you've lived in the country a while were only introduced pretty recently in Denmark - historically, that has not been how it's worked).

None of this is directly relevant to the main sources of immigration today, except in how they colour people's perceptions and shape the debate.
posted by Dysk at 2:09 AM on April 24


Want 2 babies per couple?

1) Subsidize baby cost of living;
2) Make work more dependable and regular;
3) Make future less scary (will I have a work? will Wall Street steal my pension? Will I be able to afford decent housing, healthcare, etc?).


I feel like #2 and #3 discourage having kids. The two points of kids, for the vast majority of human existence, have been A) help hunting, gathering, or farming; and B) support in old age (with some additional component of "Sex is fun, oops I'm pregnant," but keeping the kids after that part is wrapped up in A and B). This might explain why the countries with the great social services seem to have the lower birth rates.
posted by Etrigan at 4:25 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Spies' website Do it for Denmark (English version).
posted by nangar at 5:45 AM on April 24


Denmark is in no danger of becoming depopulated, it's just in danger of becoming less Danish.

Yeah, my Danish cousins have lots of babies. No one's encouraging them to have more, though, because they're Vietnamese and have slanty eyes. They've been in Denmark for almost 3 decades, but apparently that's not Danish enough.
posted by snickerdoodle at 8:07 AM on April 24


The 24 year rule. The age of consent for born-Danes is 18. Wow.

Can we agree that laws impeding interracial marriage are racist?


Misrepresent much? You are free to marry whomsoever you wish - among residents. These are not miscegenation laws. Whether they have been effective in their intent to curtail forced/arranged marriages is another matter. Recent years have apparently seen a rise in young women and men seeking help to avoid being forced into marriage, so hopefully the desire of the new generation to find spouses on their own will solve that particular problem. No doubt the 24 year rule has been an overly blunt tool, causing problems for couples of all races (yes, even the pasty white variety).

I believe that the tone has shifted in Denmark in the past year or so - people like Ahmed Akkari, Yahya Hassan, and Naser Khader helping to create a more nuanced debate. Lamentably, Dansk Folkeparti are as large as ever, though I think that their current surge in popularity has more to do with the perceived failings with the current government than anything else. DF's xenophobia these days focuses more on the eeevil of the European Union and the free movement of workers within it. Because if a Polish worker can get child support, clearly the welfare state is doomed.
posted by bouvin at 1:36 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Giancarlo Esposito Calls for Sweet Scandinavian Love
posted by homunculus at 11:51 PM on April 29


« Older Shakespeare is known for his brilliant use of lang...  |  It's simple. Just say Yes.... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments