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What We Learned About Copenhagen and the Danes in 2014

2014 will go down as a year that sucked and ruled in equal measure.

af Mads Schmidt
22 december 2014, 9:52am

Photo by Lousy Auber.

Copenhagen is a proud city, sometimes bordering on absolutely smug. It's mostly due to stuff like Noma reclaiming the title of world's best restaurant and the city being crowned most livable place in the known universe. And that's all fine as long as it doesn't lead to the kind of megalomania that inspired the idea that "hygge" is a concept that simply can't be translated into any other language. As if handing a blanket and some scented candles to any other citizen of the world would be some alien gesture, sending them straight into a confused rage ultimately ending in them hurling their feces at you.

Anyway, what makes Copenhagen a great city is in equal parts its ability to constantly change and willingness to embrace other cultures. In that respect, there have been many remarkable years in our history – years that have made us, the city, and the country what it is today. Take 1968 for instance, the year of the youth revolt, or 1969, when we legalized porn. And most important of all, there's 2002, the year Nickelback didn't play in Denmark on their Silver Side Up tour. Still, the question remains whether 2014 will join the ranks of our nation's defining years, or if it was a mere one night stand compared to the bunga bunga party 2015 will be.

At the very least, 2014 has been a year. This is what we learned.

This guy ruled though.

WE CAN'T EVEN PULL OFF THE DULLEST OF EVENTS...
It was a strange time back when the city threw the love-fest that is Eurovision. The capital shimmered with Liberace-style expectations, glitter and nationalist tendencies everywhere. People seemed equally separated in devotion to their home nation and unified in their hatred towards Russia. To be fair, the event went off pretty much without a hitch and Conchita Wurst even made the evening somewhat memorable. Then came the allegations of nepotism and the small problem of the organizers having gone 77 million kroner over budget. It takes some effort to come out as the ridiculous ones in the wake of an event that featured large-breasted Poles churning butter and Russian twins with intertwined ponytails, but by God did the organizers pull it off.

And so, instead of remaining the glistening beacon of sexual freedom and terrible music the event was destined to be, it became the festering turd symbolizing how much our city sucks at throwing parties.

WE WERE DECLARED THE MOST GAY FRIENDLY CITY IN THE WORLD
We raked in the very much unofficial title of most gay friendly city in the world. This of course begged the question of whether we actually deserved to hold such an esteemed title. Indeed, this year included some positive developments in the field of sexual acceptance: from the symbolic renaming of the dimmest square in central Copenhagen - now called the "Rainbow Square" - to a law change allowing transgendered persons to legally change their sex without having to undergo a sex change operation. We might just be headed in the right direction.

Though this is likely something to be proud of, we certainly shouldn't stop striving to end further prejudice and discrimination, of which there is a lot. For instance, homosexual men still can't donate sperm in Denmark. This is in spite of what Ole Schou, director of the world's biggest sperm bank, told VICE, that it's "difficult to comprehend why someone should be excluded based on their sexual preferences." Also, Mads Ananda Lodahl, a sexologist affiliated with LGBT Denmark, spoke out about Copenhagen's status as a supposed homo-haven, stating that he didn't even feel comfortable holding hands with his significant other in the street. All in all, we've come a long way in the area of sexual rights, but that clearly doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement in 2015.

A body scan of some terrorists? Probably not. Image via.

WE DON'T KNOW WHAT A TERRORIST LOOKS LIKE...
Remember that unfortunate incident where the city broke out in collective panic and the police were deployed to train stations with machine guns, all because a suspected terrorist was on the loose? And remember when that assumed Middle Eastern insurgent turned out to be Alisiv Ceran; an English major on his way to an exam about terrorism? Jeez, that was embarrassing. The manhunt got started when the police received a call about a Middle Eastern man acting nervously, reading a book about terrorism on the subway and carrying a backpack with an unknown device, which later turned out to be a printer. Yeah, that actually happened.

Initially, the incident raised some mildly amusing questions, like is there an actual diagnosis for people who can't tell printers and bombs apart, and if so, how do they explain Fona's oddly large assortment of explosives? However, the incident can also be seen as indicative of much graver issues within Danish society, namely the amount of latent racism people of color experience on a regular basis. It really is disturbing how many foreigners bring this up when asked their opinion of the country. One can only hope that we'll deal with some of these issues in 2015, and with the newly elected head of The Council for Ethnical Minorities asking for a debate on what it means to be Danish, we might just do that.

Image via.

WE WENT TO WAR AGAINST ISLAMIC STATE
On September 26th, Helle Thorning announced that Denmark would be sending seven F16 fighter jets to take part in the international air campaign against Islamic State. The action was widely backed by the population as 62 % agreed with the decision. While the violent methods of IS have been broadly condemned, not all agree that force is the right course of action against the extremist group. In addition, the above-mentioned case of Alisiv Ceran provides food for thought as to whether most of us really know who and what we're fighting. Either way, our nation is at war yet again.

Image via.

DANSK FOLKEPARTI BECAME SUPRISINGLY POPULAR...
2014 was the year DF almost doubled their support, reaching an approval rate of 21,2 % by the end of November. This is, of course, in spite of them having said some pretty mental shit over the years. It is nevertheless an impressive feat, and one they themselves contributed to the ongoing asylum debate. Whether it's that, the always lovely animal sex debate, the newly built mosque or an entirely different factor, there's nothing indicating their growth will be halted by the coming year – presuming our nation will continue to become increasingly multi-cultural, that is.

A sit-in protest in Lisbon. Image via

AND WE MIGHT NO LONGER BE THE HAPPIEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD
As a poll from September suggests, we Danes might no longer inhabit the greenest, jolliest, not-a-care-in-the-worldest, most amped up on anti-depressants, happiest country in the world. Indeed, it seems that the citizens of both Panama and Costa Rica have become more fulfilled than us Danes. This can not come as a surprise to the vigilant few, for some truly rotten things have gone down in the land of Hamlet this year. Stuff from which our nation's soul might never recover. We're talking of course about the time the Copenhagen Zoo chopped up a poor little giraffe young'un by the name of Marius in front of a live audience of kids before feeding him to the lions. That shit changes people.

Photo by Lousy Auber.

AND YET IT REMAINS ONE OF THE BEST PLACES TO LIVE, PERIOD.
Despite what gentrifying ads like this one wants Copenhagen to be, the city's still an explosive hub of everything fascinating, young and raw. It's a place balancing on the very verge of modern internationalism and the loving familiarity that comes from its teeny size. Forget about the vast, leather-bound wasteland that is Berlin and the CCTV'ed tourist trap of London - they don't stick like Copenhagen does. And it's not the binge drinking in the streets on weekends or the fact that it doesn't take more than a pair of Nike Free's for you to feel like you belong; really it's just the people that make this city what it is, every fucking day.

Tagged:
rights
RACISM
LGBT
Copenhagen
Islamic State
2014
Denmark
danish
Eurovision
marius
conchita wurst
Dansk Folkeparti
Vice Blog
OMG the year's over
what happened again?
Helle Thorning
Alisiv Ceran
Room for improvement
Great fucking city
Thanks for a great year guys