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Glorification of Finland (tumblr post)

Unless you are really fascinated about Finland and Finnish people, there's no reason to read this.

Since this one became really long, and I’m not sure I want to or need to talk about this with those other Finns, I’m just gonna make a separate post about my thoughts about this discussion: http://mousefactors.tumblr.com/post/45185979742/the-chinaberry-tree-okay-im-so-sick-of-this-right-now

Another Finn here, although one who is not currently living in Finland (living in Estonia ftr).  I don’t agree with all the points the OP makes, for example, metal is mainstream in Finland. FFS, a metalhead won one of out Idols competitions and he was the clear favorite since his audition.

Also, thank you, no we weren’t fucking Vikings stop lumping us into Swedes Norwegians and Danes when it comes to that, it’s fucking annoying. Although, that whole ‘are we Scandinavian or not’ is a ridiculous question for me, that is a post for another time.

Anyway, I agree that the glorification of Finland can be very problematic. Before all this attention about our PISA scores started, there was so much talk about all the issues students have because of mental health issues, class sizes, funding, all that stuff. I think Finland itself has not forgotten these issues but the foreign press has. Many articles about our education system are ridiculous. We have exams, homework, there can be lack of respect towards teachers from the students (one of my teachers actually quit my class after one year because many of the students were so horrible towards her), I have no idea why they keep harping on that the top 10% of graduates become teachers because it makes no sense (10% of applicants are accepted to study education), and probably some other points I don’t remember right now.

About Finns and happiness, I think the problem is that people define happiness differently. In America, where pursuit of happiness is in the fucking constitution, what happiness is, is very different than happiness is to a Finn, especially because of our Lutheran culture that values hard work, shutting up and not whining (as I myself describe it). A Finn is a lot more likely to describe themselves as ‘happy’ when things do not suck too badly than an American. There might be studies about that, I don’t know. Anyway, I suspect a happy Finn is a different thing than a happy American, or whatever nationality you wanna compare Finns to. Also, while our suicide rates are bad, I’m not quite sure how bad they are? Because I looked into this a while ago, and for a few years now there have been articles about how our suicide rates are down from the heights of early 90s (fall of Soviet Union fucked up our economy for a while) and how more people, specifically men, are more likely to try and get help for their mental health issues rather than commit suicide. It also might be another cultural thing about suicide, the fact how open we are about that as an issue. There’s maybe less of a stigma attached to it than in other nations. It’s not an honor thing like in Japan but we are a nation that has annual ‘how many people drowned this year’ day, those cannot all be accidents. So, because people know they might not be thought of as failures or cowards for committing suicide, attempting it might be a more favorable option over here. I don’t know, like majority of Finns, I was familiar with someone who committed suicide, I have personally thought about it and I don’t judge people who come to that solution. But it is still a problem and we need to make serious improvements on our mental healthcare system.

I think one has to be a particular type of person to survive in Finland. The winters are long and dark, the people can be absolutely terrible (if you wanna become a misanthrope in minutes, read the truefinns.tumblr.com), summers are often short and crappy, there’re lots of emotional issues that are not dealt with , lots of fucked up violence and the language is ridiculous. Now, people who know me, know I am very Finnish, it’s a tag even, I cannot imagine living anywhere else, I cannot wait to get back there but I am fortunate enough that I am not depressed nor am I an alcoholic. Those are huge issues in Finland, and you cannot understate how big those issues are and how we are kinda fucking up dealing with them. Last year, a man stabbed a random 17 or 18 year old girl to death because that was the only way he was going to get treatment for his issues. That is super fucked up. We have lots of issues that should not be ignored.

On the other hand, to be a woman in Finland is easier than in majority of other countries in the world. We had a female president for 12 years (2 terms), a woman already got to second round in the elections in 1994, we had universal suffrage in 1906, our euro is 80% of a man’s euro. Might be other important stuff too but those are the main points. In many ways it still sucks to be a woman in Finland, but it’s hell of a lot better than in most places.

During the last presidential election, about a third of the nation would have been OK with an openly gay, green party supporting President who is in a registered partnership with a Latino (cannot remember which country he is from). Unfortunately, the law on equal marriage act got stopped 8-9 but we are trying to get them to actually discuss the law again soon.
I cannot imagine what it’s like to be POC in Finland but from what I can gather, it can be really, really horrible. If you’re not white blue eyed blonde, you are most likely get way too much undeserved shit. I really hope we are improving on that front, but I just don’t know. At least we’ve finally started to really talk about it openly as a nation.

OK, now to your post, mousefactors:
Finland is up there as one of the most happy countries but like I already said, it might just be the definition of happiness is different to a Finn. Not sure we are the most depressed country in the world. Yes, we are a really depressed country, but so are our fellow Nordic countries (blame the weather) and I’m pretty sure I just read somewhere that Palestinians are way more depressed than we are.

The thing is, that graphic is not completely inaccurate, the problem is that most people just take away the ‘no homework’ bullshit and it’s been posted multiple times in the Finland tag for a few weeks no. So, yeah, people are quick to believe everything they read, it’s annoying.

The current image of Santa Clause was created by Coca Cola and an American with apparently Finnish (or judging by his name, Finnish Swede) ancestry. Santa Clause is a very old tradition, it was not invented by Coca Cola or Finland. Yes, we like to pretend that our Santa Clause is the real one, and some other cultures, namely Japan, buy into it. But most people with Santa Clause traditions think Santa lives in North Pole. There are other versions of Santa Clause in other cultures, he is not just ‘ours’. For the majority of the world, he isn’t Finnish. I’m not sure why you are using the term victim-blaming here, there’s no ‘victim’ here, but it is silly that you are blaming Finland for the image non-Finns have given us. I didn’t know His Darkest Material has Finnish stuff, that’s awesome! How many people actually know that Tolkien was obsessed with Finland and Kalevala? How many people have actually heard of Kalevala? I haven’t really heard or seen what Elvish looks or sounds like but I’m pretty sure it does not actually resemble Finnish that much. Just checked Quenya and yep, if I didn’t know it’s supposed to be based in Finnish, I wouldn’t get that.
Is Snow Queen even particularly Finnish? H.C. Anderson is Danish, not Finnish. No one outside of Finland or maybe Sweden is aware of Zacharias Topelius, he was our fairytale person, have you heard of him before now?

Honestly, the idea that Finland has had enough pop culture exposure to really affect the way people view us, especially exposure that is done by us is rather ridiculous. We have Renny Harlin, some actors you’ve never heard of, Charlie’s Angels used Finnish as a secret language because one of the producers is Finnish and they have us speaking German between ourselves because no one in Hollywood could apparently find actual Finnish people (Swordfish) and Conan O’Brien’s jokes and references toward us. Oh, and we played the part of Russia a lot during Cold War. That is the Finnish contribution to the world in the form of pop culture.  The fact that a few people have been inspired about our culture is awesome, but not one that warrants the view of us a fantasy land.
The Russian stereotype in Finland is: depressive drunk in a land of lots of snow that occasionally wants to take our land away from us, because, guess what! That’s what they have tried to do to us ever since the fucking crusades.  Have you heard the term Finlandization? Look it up. The stereotype of Russians we have is the same we have about ourselves except for the fact that there’s a fuckload more of them and history filled with wars. But our relations are getting better since lots of Russian travel here and we like the money.  And their prime minister gave our previous president a kitten.
#fuck load of Finland feels #all the Finland feels #also to go to Russia you need a visa and a passport that’s valid for 6 months afterwards #it takes more than a fucking busride

#anyone interested in Finland and Finnish culture might want to read this
#aka none of my main blog followers
#tw suicide #forgot to add that
#I'm so Finnish it hurts
#not sure how much sense any of this makes
#i just have lots of feelings about Finnishness and I rarely get around to writing about them
#because Finnishness is only interesting to me probs
#so I couldn't shut up when I had the opportunity
#because Finnishness is rather boring just another brand of whiteness
#but just because some people use our not-that-interesting culture to make it seem interesting and mysterious
#does not give anyone a right to act like it's our fault people misrepresent the interest level of Finnishness
#I don't know what I am saying
#wonder if I could get a degree about Finnish culture somewhere? that would be awesome
#I should just shut up now
#oops one more thing
#that whole 'magical Finland' stuff is more likely about the Sami rather than Finns
#or maybe about the Karelians
#actual Finns are very boring culturally
#after all we are Lutheran



( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Anne-Isabel Gaudreau
Mar. 12th, 2013 09:03 pm (UTC)

Wow, that is starting to make me feel bad for liking Finland. Seriously. I should probably go back to obsessing over the UK. But that one quite literally broke my heart. So true story, country glorification is a dangerous spiral.

The Santa Claus thing is played rather heavily to tourists in Finland. Not just asian ones. If I may, most people believe Santa Claus is a Coca-Cola invention. Which he isn't. They used him, but the current incarnation of the myth is mostly the work of a group of Polish immigrants in New York that were looking for a way to boost up sales between Thanksgiving and Eater. So they tried to change the way Christmas was previously celebrated (church + drinking) to the way we know it now (kids' holiday + gift-giving). Canada doesn't market our Santa at all (but if kids want to write to him, he lives in the North Pole, and the Postal service answers the letter, it's really sweet.

A good part of the Snow Queen is set in Finland, and a character is the 'good Finnish woman'. The Queen's castle is in Lapland. Anyways.

The 'victim shaming' was a reference to the idea that the other bloggers were complaining that people had a false view of Finland when well, the tourism office (and the metal bands) are responsible for a lot of the misinformation. So it reminded me of gossiping, thus the victim parallel.

Yes, I had heard of Topelius. I was quite drunk at the time (oh surprise!). I am absolutely not informed enough about pop culture to judge the expose of any country. I also avoid the media, because I got so fed up with the sensationalism and political correctness of Canadian media (but I've heard it's like that everywhere). Last time I listened to the radio, they did mention how university education was free in Finland (true) but also said that only 12% of people get accepted to university (badly worded, terrible sounding statistic).

(oh, that went off-track quite quickly) My point was, the only thing that people can use to form their opinion on a subject is the information that is available about it. The most famous finnish bands in the USA are probably Nightwish and Lordi. (famous enough that people who do not listen to metal know them) They both exude an image of pure fantasy. So yes, if Finns don't affect the world's view about their country, nothing does. It's like saying that the taste of apples doesn't affect people's opinions on the fruit.

One never sees their own land as fantasy, it is your reality, so of course it is strange that someone else sees at as more that it is. I am sure you have experienced a situation when you were really exited for some change, but when it happened, it wasn't as good as you expected it. Does that make the anticipation wrong?

Finally, I meant the american stereotype of Russia. The big soviet enemy, that wants to destroy the beloved capitalism. Also, I am quite aware how difficult it is to go to Russia. They even ask HIV status. What is that country?

Also, was it you who brought up the poc thing? I can't find it. Regardless, I had something to say about that. Being a visible minority (I hate the term poc, because if you are white and go to say, Japan, you become a poc wrt the general population) is never fun. I won the super special price at the life lottery to never fit in anywhere. Sitting on an ethnocultural fence. So even if there are bigoted finns, that support neo-nazi ideologies, they are still more likely to keep it to themselves than average canadian moron, that will probably organize a protest to complain about immigration policies. You heard about black history month? It is basically 28 1/4 days of constant reminders that regardless of what lies everyone says, race is still super important for everybody and that the one drop rule still applies. For example, try to find a biography of Aleksandr Pushkin that doesn't mention his African heritage. Or imagine if people with grey eyes got dirty looks from people with brown eyes because at least they can 'pass' for blue eyed.

That was a lot of rambling, sorry. To sum up, I found it quite irritating that one would complain their country has a good reputation. Ok. The only things people know about Canada are maple syrup, hockey and Ryan Gosling.

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )



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