Friday, August 19, 2011

Censorship in Sweden

Age appropriate entertainment

From my perspective there seems to be a disconnect in how the swedish people have decided to handle censorship. Growing up in Canada we have fairly strict regulations as to what is broadcast over the airwaves and a keen eye on how this material could be received by those that are not old enough to understand or interpret its meaning.

There is also a a lot of unrealistic censorship in sweden when the content could shed a negative light on decisions the countries leaders are making in the running of the country.

For example with the prevalence of english in the swedish media, one would expect that material is age appropriate considering the audience, time of day, and subject matter however, there seems to be nothing that prevents broadcasters from using 'vulgar' language such as the F word, S word, or any other word that would not be used in Canada. I have on several occasions seen this type of material being used in give away papers, radio, tv, etc. Could it be that the goal of the media is to alter the connotations of such language and to remove the stigma associated with it?

there was a mega hit single here by an artist called Eric Amarillo this year (2011) called 'Om Sanningen Ska Fram' which translates loosely to 'If the truth comes forward' and the entire song's about wanting to get laid. A catchy tune with a pretty suggestive music video however is this type of song appropriate for children? It would seem that the media here thinks so as he played this single at a children's amusement park called Skansen in Stockholm in front of hundreds of children and teenagers. During his performance, even I could sense that even he was not 100% when singing. Maybe the thought is that by continually bombarding people with sex that the taboo erases itself and it becomes nothing special.

In another example Veronicca Maggio a pop artist here has also released a single called 'Jag Kommer' which translates to 'Im Coming' but throughout the video the suggestion is not to arriving somewhere but instead to the sexual act of orgasim. It was even discussed with her during an interview where she played innocent and insisted that it did in fact mean the former. Once again, a very popular song, played all over the media but perhaps not totally appropriate to all audiences.

There was also the gay pride parade here in Stockholm which happens every Summer. There are always tons of people out for the parade and a number of very interesting themed vehicles which drive through the center of the city. This year i noticed some very racy, bordering on pornographic displays where in some cases people were completely naked on vehicles, in plane site of every spectator on the side of the road. Suggestions of saddo massicicism, sexual domination and the like. What sort of message does this send to children watching the parade and is it something they will understand or is it just a way to shock spectators?

Censorship on the reporting of crime is common practice here in Sweden as well. If a crime is committed by someone, you will not be given any information as to the name of the person or their original nationality if not of Swedish ancestry. As the government wants people to accept multiculturalism: if it is shown that a majority of criminal activities are being committed by non-swedes this would cause people to question how the government is going about immigration and integration in general. A number of independent people are reporting complete details about high profile cases but you will never see the same information information in the mainstream media. In canada there are regulations on what information is released but this is based on the age of the people involved, not their nationality. If tried in adult court, full name details are given so as to inform the public. Its somewhat confusing that in Sweden you can get anyones name, address, social security number, how much they made last year, and a bunch of other information on anyone with a simple search online but not information about who is committing crimes in the country.

The question then is: Why are people in Sweden putting up with the propaganda that is being sold to them by their own elected officials? Is it apathy, naïvety or ignorance? From my perspective the entire scandinavian culture is based on honesty and openness. Can Sweden keep this culture of openness in the 21st century and how will multiculturalism effect its outcome? Will Sweden have to abandon openness in order to be more like Canada, England, the USA etc. with strong privacy laws?

One thing is for sure, there is a conflicting message that is being sent out where on one hand you have sexuality and age inappropriate material being broadcast freely but a lack of transparency from a criminality standpoint. Is it wrong to shame those that commit crimes so that people realize there are consequences to their actions? Why protect the criminals and not the victims?

The Swedish word of the day is 'Sanning' which means truth.

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