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Sweden's Parody Lost

Talentless and tasteless.

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Rixstep published an article on something found in the Swedish tabloid Expressen from February of this year. It's a seemingly vitriolic hit piece on Julian Assange that nearly (but not quite) sets new records for Duckpond Sweden.


It turns out that the Expressen article in question wasn't supposed to be taken at face value - that it was in fact a parody. But if parody implies humour then it's a parody lost.

The original Expressen article has no indication of whence it comes or who wrote it. One has to be a seasoned reader of Expressen to know - and who would admit to that?

The three Swedes who commented on the article were all equally aghast. It seems even they missed out on the 'rolling in the aisles' humour involved.

The author of the piece wasn't culture editor Karin Olsson (although it's likely the piece had to pass her desk before publication).

Here's the author. Nils Schwartz. He's 67 years old and semi-retired. But evidently still picks up a paycheque for writing 200-300 words every Sunday or so - the comical high point of any erudite Expressen reader's week.

Quite a few members of Flashback were upset to read the article. But not all. A few pointed out they were in on the joke - and intimated everyone should be.

But that's quite the trick for someone viewing only that article. There are no links to Nils Schwartz, there is no indication anywhere who wrote the piece, there is absolutely not the slightest hint that the piece is in jest.

If Nils Schwartz' article was supposed to be a parody then it should be funny. But it's not funny. It's pathetic. And for that matter: there's nothing funny about rape or being accused of it. Nils Schwartz' article was talentless and tasteless.

The article has three comments. The comment section is pictured here. The three comments are as follows.

  1. 'Deplorable! Of Expressen.'
  2. 'I'm surprised Expressen engages in mockery and the character assassination of an individual, Julian Assange. One should keep in mind the rule of public access to our governmental administration and the right to privacy for individuals.'
  3. 'Why do you publish anonymous articles in the Expressen cultural section? And there were probably 15-20 acts of sex between JA and the claimants in full consent, at any rate according to the testimony of the women under interrogation. But what the women themselves say is perhaps not so important for Expressen?'

No it's not. Expressen jumped at the chance to scoop Julian Assange - with the explicit approval of their dumped editor Thomas 'Humpty Dumpty' Mattsson. Their hyena reporters fell over each other to get their names on the piece in question.

Right from the get-go the Swedish media and authorities have behaved reprehensibly as if this were just another celebrity upskirt photo from Sunset Boulevard.

And as pointed out in the Rixstep article cited above and as pointed out by a few brave Swedes like Olle Andersson, this is the extent of the journalistic ambition of Sweden's so-called reporters - Collateral Murder and the Afghan War Diaries were summarily ignored. Expressen's sister publication DN.se complained that there were too many cables and whined that WikiLeaks should write the articles first.

Expressen mostly deals in sleaze - but it's not even their own sleaze. Their 'reporters' spend their days culling the worst possible sites on the Internet and then copying articles from organisations halfway around the globe who will never know how they've been plagiarised and thieved. Journalism? Reporting?

It's possible that a few people are aware of what Schwartz was doing - but what about all the rest who happen upon Expressen for the first time, get bored looking at all the ads, and want to actually read something?

Nothing much of value is taught in Swedish journalist schools. Either that or it's beat out of the graduates as soon as they get their first jobs. Readers come across fat headlines proclaiming 'HE DID IT' or '40 MILES ALL ALONE' with no explanation of what is going on, not in the nutgraf, not in anything in the article. Perhaps it's a lame assumption that readers are as up on things as the sleepy writers in Marieberg, perhaps it's the constriction of having to keep most articles down under the junior high level so there's room for all the ads, but Swedish media don't tell a story. As the one commenter above put it, it's deplorable.

But there's a far bigger issue at stake here, something the unwashed visitors to Flashback should today understand after ten months of the current ordeal: Sweden is in the spotlight now. Sweden is under the microscope. Everyone is watching and there aren't many who like what they see. Google Translate is getting better and better. The above link to Schwartz' article comes via an international site. Someone outside the Duckpond found it, translated it, and quoted it.

That poor unfortunate someone had no way of finding out a certain 'Schwartz' was behind it and that the article was his feeble attempt at humour.

Put another way: Sweden isn't a duckpond anymore. Swedes are no longer isolated, even if they think they are. The case of Assange v Sweden has put them on the map in a way they don't like. And it's high time they understood that and learned to behave accordingly.

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