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Finland for Thought » 60 Minutes segment on Finland | Politics, current events, culture - In Finland & the United States | Blog of an American living in Finland

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             Politics, current events, culture - In Finland & United States

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28.4.2007

60 Minutes segment on Finland

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 2:10 am

An absolute must see, from 1993…

Damn, this is pretty harsh, “The Finnish tango is not to be confused with the glorying, grinding, passionate Latin American version. The Finns have managed to neutralize all that, it’s a sad shuffle in a minor key, with lyrics to reaffirm couples instinctive sense of hopelessness.”

Erf, well quite a bit of sensationalistic journalism there, I think that blonde hair Finnish guy was just “taking a piss” as the Brits would say, but they took him seriously. And as far as small talk with strangers go – whenever I’m on the bus or something I’m reading or listening to music or deep in thought, you’d be rudely interrupting me if you were to talk to me. I’m not depressed, I’m just preoccupied.

Hat Tip to Mikael for the link!!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/ursonate/ charlene

    Funny to see this again. It made such an impression on me way back then. This is when I became fascinated with Finland and the Finnish. I think it is hard for Americans to understand the sense of humor.

  • Passer-by

    Ahahaha, that was bizarre. So serious and curious point of view, like observing some aliens. As a Finn, I have to agree on Finnish tango though – it sucks. But I like how we try to avoid saying “I love you” in vain, that way the expression carries heavy meaning when you actually utter it to someone.

  • samwyse

    There was a more upbeat story some years later on mobile phones.

  • hill billy

    1993 ? no way…i for sure thought it was 2007 !!!! this is the most up to date timeless vid. I have seen …hahahah,,,truly funny

  • gopha

    Erf, well quite a bit of sensationalistic journalism there, I think that blonde hair Finnish guy was just “taking a piss” as the Brits would say, but they took him seriously.

    Just a bit. That made Conan’s Finland special look like an hour long Caribbean cruise ad. They took that blonde guy pretty seriously. However, many of the English-speaking Finns I have come across speak English like they speak Finnish, very monotone, very little feeling. It should come as no surprise when someone, who hasn’t been exposed to Finns, would take a Finn seriously even if they are just joking around.

  • Peter

    when was this done? In the early 1990′s?

  • http://www.axis-of-aevil.net/ hfb

    LOL…The blonde guy was just being honest with a bit of wry humour. Have you listened to the Finnish tango lyrics? Have you been a woman sitting alone while your drinking companion has gone to get another beer or take a wee? I lost count of the number of drunk Finnish guys who wanted to tell me their sob stories. I usually encouraged them to write a country & western song instead of wasting it on random victims in the pub.

    As an aside…it was really funny when the attending OB in the hospital after I gave birth came to see me and the baby and shook Jarkko’s hand and said, “Oh! I know a Finnish joke!” And it was something about the old Finnish man being asked if he had said “I love you” to his wife lately and he replied “Why, I told her when I married her 60 years ago” or somesuch. I cackled…and Jarkko cringed with that discomfort that comes when you resemble the punchline. :)

    I didn’t think the story was exaggerated at all…it was mostly accurate and reported from a US/UK perspective. Finland will always be the woman asking if her ass looks fat in a dress and then having the man sleep on the sofa when he tells the truth. :)

  • Passer-by

    Finland will always be the woman asking if her ass looks fat in a dress and then having the man sleep on the sofa when he tells the truth.

    Hehe, that’s true.

  • poncho

    I think that we, the Finns, have changed so much in almost 15 years. Yes we are a little bit shy still, but not as bad as you can see on that video. It should be updated so the Americans can see how and who we are now. Because that video gave a slightly negative impression.

  • Lan Theroux

    “There was a more upbeat story some years later on mobile phones.”

    Was it the one where they claimed kännykkä is finnish for “little hand”?

  • Pekka Eskimo

    the blonde guy sounds like Jyrki Katainen.

  • Antti rn

    The reply of the old man in the joke continued: “…and I’ll tell her, if the state of affairs changes”

    I guess Toivo Kärki can be considered “inventor” of the finnish tango as we know it. According to him, the recipe was to mix slavic melancholy, prussian military march and original tango in equal amounts. Minor is better than major, he used to say. When Juice Leskinen was asked, whether he can tango, he said that sure, he can walk his wife to the corner and back. I don’t know, whether Juice had some experiences of this, but some rock- and pop bands from Helsinki used to get their asses kicked at Bothnia, if they didn’t play at least few tangos.

    I read somewhere, that the true heart of the original tango is not passion, but absolute indifference. What is percepted as passion is actually a couple intensively mopping the floor with each other.

    Maybe this partner-finding aspect of tango was more important in the countryside, where the social control used to be quite strict. I think the city people have never needed any dances as an excuse. Besides, it is nice to have some intermediate levels in…hmmm..interaction between the sexes. Most women follow Fermi-Dirac statistics and if ‘marriage’ and ‘bedroom’ levels are already occupied, you can still jump on ‘tango’ level.

    Some do follow Bose-Einstein statistics though, but that’s a different story for a different day.

  • JG

    Taking a piss = urinating
    Taking the piss is what you mean the English would say. That journalist is certainly doing so.
    Very stereotypical report, is this kind of thing perhaps the reason for Americans’ strange worldview?

  • http://bnss.podshow.com RAVE THE SLAVE

    “Very stereotypical report, is this kind of thing perhaps the reason for Americans’ strange worldview?” – JG

    Yes, absolutely. 60 Minutes puff piece from 1993 about the de-sensualization of the Tango is the reason behind the Americans’ “strange worldview.”

    What is Finland’s or Britain’s “strange worldview” excuse?

  • http://anzisblog.blogspot.com Anzi

    As an aside…it was really funny when the attending OB in the hospital after I gave birth came to see me and the baby and shook Jarkko’s hand and said, “Oh! I know a Finnish joke!” And it was something about the old Finnish man being asked if he had said “I love you” to his wife lately and he replied “Why, I told her when I married her 60 years ago” or somesuch. I cackled…and Jarkko cringed with that discomfort that comes when you resemble the punchline. :)

    If there’s one thing that I hate it’s when some smartass gets all exited when they hear what your nationality is. Then they start spewing out all of the jokes and phrases that they know, expecting you to laugh along because THEY think that they’re being really funny and quippy.

    Yeah, I get it. I’m from Finland. Yes, it’s a small country with a strange language and yeah, we’re really weird and stuff. Yeah, we drink a lot. No, we don’t talk much. Yeah, yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah, whatever you say, *YAWN*. Get over yourself already.

    I remember seeing this program when it first came out and writing it off as a self-congratulating piece of what I described above. I still feel that way.

  • http://anzisblog.blogspot.com Anzi

    I didn’t think the story was exaggerated at all…it was mostly accurate and reported from a US/UK perspective. Finland will always be the woman asking if her ass looks fat in a dress and then having the man sleep on the sofa when he tells the truth. :)

    So what you are saying is that the US/UK perspective of Finland is the absolute truth and we Finns should just accept that? So you don’t think that “truth” is a relative thing, and multiple parallel truths exist?

  • aet75

    Multiple parallel thruths… like a fatass / big-boned gal? ;)

  • aet75

    edit #17 truths

  • Keksi

    #3 – I remember that too. And the last comment was something along the lines “Even if you try, there is really nothing bad you can say about Finland”. Freakin’ hypocrites :D

  • http://anzisblog.blogspot.com Anzi

    Multiple parallel thruths… like a fatass / big-boned gal? ;)

    Yes. That’s exactly what I meant. *eyeroll* ;-)

  • http://www.axis-of-aevil.net/ hfb

    Anzi – Uh, no….From an American POV, Finland is, in fact, very different and strange…it could be thought of as almost as annoying as the stupid cow in the segment who kept on saying how Americans say ‘I love you’ to everyone….

    And the OB was kinda cute in that after telling the Finnish joke which made me laugh and my husband cringe, he told a self-deprecating jewish joke to get past that awkward moment of wondering if he stuck his foot in it with this tall glowering silent Finn in the room. :) I almost mentioned that he looks that way all the time, but didn’t want to stir the pot. :)

  • http://anzisblog.blogspot.com Anzi

    From an American POV, Finland is, in fact, very different and strange…

    So does that mean that Americans are normal and Finns are weird or that Americans perceive themselves as the norma and perceive Finns to be weird?

    Personally, I like the fact that Finland is strange and in a kind of an oddball class geek -position.

  • http://www.axis-of-aevil.net/ hfb

    Anzi…are you so navel-gazing you completely missed that point? No it means that from the American perspective, yes, the Finns are weird. Just as, say, Finns would report that Americans are too friendly and weird and say ‘I love you’ all the time to random strangers.

  • http://anzisblog.blogspot.com Anzi

    hfb, actually I got your point right after I had posted my comment.

    I still think that this documentary should be taken with a boulder of salt, though, and as a purely subjective (and tad elitist) view on Finland. I haven’t re-watched it since it came out, nor do I plan to.

  • http://mrontemp.blogspot.com/ Ontario Emperor

    When our Finnish exchange student daughter stayed with us in California in 2003-2004, many of the people at her high school had no preconceived notions of Finnish people. Most of them didn’t even know where Finland was.

    In my view, Finland gets off light compared to Japan. Back in the 1980s, before all manufacturing shifted to China, U.S. television would do occasional news stories on “those crazy Japanese.” That’s how I first heard about karaoke – a story on “those crazy Japanese” crooning country songs.

    The funniest part of the news story was when they talked about how Finnish people were standoffish – immediately followed by a shot of Finnish men in a sauna.

  • Ellie

    Even though there’s some truth in the clip, it’s pretty exaggerated, and dated. ‘Anywhere, anytime, you encounter hoards of people given to the Finnish form of tango…” Right?

  • http://www.axis-of-aevil.net/ hfb

    Anzi – Well…travel pieces do tend to be a bit on the subjective side as culture is generally reported relative to the local culture. America is a bit elitist but it wouldn’t be the country it is if it weren’t at least a little bit so…ditto for the UK. :)

    Ontario – Well…after reading a couple of stories where the Japanese mothers will give their sons blow jobs just to help them do better in school ( I think it was in the IHT a few years ago ) the Japanese do seem a bit crazy. :)

  • FinnFreak

    That story on Finns needs a serious update, with 3 major issues to consider:

    1. Nemo saltat sobrius

    2. Ilo ilman viinaa on teeskentelyä

    3. Pohjalainen esileikki: “Räplää ittes märjäks – mä käyn paskalla”

    Hauskaa Vappua..! :P

  • Valtteri

    Minä rakastan sinua!!! :D See, not all Finns keep their love to themselves. Now excuse me while I go and say this to my mother, my sauna and my pet polar bear.

  • aet75

    Glada vappen!!! I wonder what will become of the Vappuneekeri btw…

  • dudette

    21. So you’re a spokesperson to a whole America. Nice deal.

  • dudette

    There’s something romantic the way Finns keep their emotions hidden. Once you really here “minä rakastan sinua” it feels good. Unlike endless I-love-yous in America, it’s like saying “how are you”. Total inflation.

  • http://bnss.podshow.com DAVE THE RAVE

    “There’s something romantic the way Finns keep their emotions hidden. Once you really here “minä rakastan sinua” it feels good. Unlike endless I-love-yous in America, it’s like saying “how are you”. Total inflation.” – dudette

    You must have learned most of your knowledge about American habits from the 1970′s TV show The Love Boat, because like your comment states it is total inflation of the truth.

  • http://stupidbananaa.blogspot.com From the perspective of a Chinese Finn

    You can say that I am one of the rarities. My family immigrated to Finland from HongKong in 1989 (the year when 200 ethic chinese entered the country) when I was 6 years old. So, I have practically lived my whole life there up until I recently moved to Toronto, Canada. From my perspective, the 60min’s documentary can’t be more true (and it’s really a classic!)

    Although I wouldn’t take every word for it literally, it really strikes the chord of Finnish mentality. I’ve never truly identified myself as a Finn but having been living outside Finland, I noticed that there are actually some finnish characteristics in me. Like the awkwardness in the social context, overcoming shyness to strike a conversation with a stranger is just hard and something that I just recently started to learn..!

  • Clark

    I love this old piece from 60 minutes. In fact, I saw it when it originally came out and have thought about it many times. I’m glad I found it again.

    It’s suppossed to be a bit humorous. Every country thinks others are a bit odd, and it’s not always a bad thing. The WSJ regularly prints funny articles on the front page about eccentric English bahvior. I find it endearing. It’s just good clean fun.

    We’ll be in Finland in two weeks and I can’t wait. Besides, when I first saw this I couldn’t remember which of the three countries up there it was about. It’s nice to differentiate yourself.

  • http://www.howtotalkwithconfidence.com/blog/ chiz

    Good post. You make some great points that most people
    do not fully understand.

    “Erf, well quite a bit of sensationalistic journalism there, I think that blonde hair Finnish guy was just “taking a piss” as the Brits would say, but they took him seriously. And as far as small talk with strangers go – whenever I’m on the bus or something I’m reading or listening to music or deep in thought, you’d be rudely interrupting me if you were to talk to me. I’m not depressed, I’m just preoccupied.”

    I like how you explained that. Very helpful. Thanks.

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