Last week I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Denmark. Copenhagen is starting to become as familiar to me as beer is to Hagar the Horrible. Every time I visit I find yet more reasons to fall in love with the land of the peculiar guttural groans that masquerade as a language and this time was no different.
For me personally nothing summarises Copenhagen better than the phrase ‘cultural melting pot’. At all times of the day the city is filled with a diverse assortment of characters often clearly defined by both their dress and their language. Not only that, the denizens of Denmark have an immense appetite for stimulation irrespective of form. A great example was the fact that we were lucky enough to visit a Gregory Crewdson exhibition, a fascinating photographer who by his own admittance doesn’t take any of his own photographs. Each time I visit I return with yet another cultural experience to add to the list.
As much as I love the cosmopolitan nature of Copenhagen I have often wondered where the evidence of contemporary Danish culture can be found. In the age of globalisation an extraordinary number of people have been brainwashed into submission by the endless stream of American propaganda which is thrown at us in the forms of gadgets, gassy drinks and pre-gastric band operation sized jeans and fast food menus. In ever-increasing numbers people are writing American style books, plays and songs and making American style television programs and films to the point that we are so over saturated with the American dream and American ideals that the vast majority of us have lost the sense of ourselves to the extent that we no longer have a reflection. When my good friend Poul suggested watching a Danish film entitled ‘Rejsen Til Saturn’ I rolled my eyes, took a deep breath and prepared myself for what I presumed would be a European Toy Story. How wrong was I? From the moment a naked man appears waving the flag of Denmark from his arsehole to quite possibly the most unusual finale I have ever seen, the laughs keep coming. The striking thing about Return To Saturn is the fact that the film offers a window into the contemporary Danish character. It offers no apologies and it pulls no punches and most of all it’s a rip-roaring comic ride presented with a refreshing honesty which the vast majority of filmmakers are too gutless to ever present. Aside from learning a great deal about the Danish psyche, and a perspective on a number of current day social issues, I have also learned the real use of a German sausage and how to protect the Earth from an alien invasion. I am sure some of my newly gained knowledge will one day be useful.
My final thought, in my opinion says a great deal without saying very much at all. When we arrived at Copenhagen airport to depart, we were informed politely that due to the fact that the vast majority of the passengers had already checked it, we were going to be flying early. In thirty-one years on this earth I have never ever been politely informed that my chosen form of transport was going to leave early. The very idea is like Danish engineering. It’s rational and its genius is its simplicity. Much the same as all which is good in life should be.