The news this month: the Israeli government permits the building of 1200 new homes in East Jerusalem in defiance of American wishes; the head of ETA’s armed resistance wing is arrested at a safe house in Normandy; ‘Angel of Grozny’ Xhadizhat Gataeva is deported by the Finnish authorities despite her asylum appeal being unresolved; and David Beckham was treated for a torn Achilles tendon in Finland.
Wait, hold on, what? David Beckham? You mean the David Beckham? Worldwide celebrity married to a Spice Girl? That guy? Here in Finland?? OMG! Amazing! Hold the front pages! Israel? What? Screw that! It’s DAVID BECKHAM.
Anyone who has lived here long enough will surely by now have got used to Finland’s (read: the Finnish media’s) desperate need to big up good old Suomi at every possible opportunity. Perhaps they’re just pandering to some bizarre collective inferiority complex, or perhaps the media is just a bit shit. Beckham’s arrival here was greeted with the kind of frenzy only normally seen when a posse of famished piranhas meets a bleeding cow.
With the story front-page news on every newspaper and lead item on television news bulletins, you might be forgiven for thinking that March was a really slow month, or that the second coming of Christ had been announced, but it wasn’t: it was just the media being dismal and our country slipping slightly further into a quagmire of wretched national consciousness.
Even Helsingin Sanomat (a ‘quality’ newspaper apparently), for example, ran a story on their English-language web pages arguing that, “Finland comes out of all this as one of the few winners: it would be very hard to acquire the sort of positive publicity in the international media that was generated by this incident in any other way.” Oh yeah? What’s gonna happen now then, eh? Is Finland going to become a tourist hotspot? Will we see massive investment in Finnish industry from overseas? Will everyone suddenly become really happy? No, they won’t.
HS’s hack also moaned, “This did not prevent the usual suspects from grumbling on Internet message boards that the media interest in Beckham’s travails was a waste of time...there were inevitably those who found something to grumble about... Those who carped that little Finland was grovelling on its knees once again before an overpaid star seemed to forget that the story was a major international news item all over the world.” To which the only response can be – get a life. It’s a non-story, a useless piece of information that no-one needs to know about and affects no-one in Finland one jot. I could point out also that according to British tabloid The Sun, Turku is in Southern Sweden, but whatever.
Of course, were Dave’n’Posh to go to any other country the media there would certainly publicise their visit for all its worth, but in this country it uniquely turns into an ‘ooh look at us we’re in the news’ situation. Which, considering that while you’re reading this, a few weeks after the fact, no-one will have any idea where Turku is (again) or that Becks ever visited Finland, is as much ridiculous as pitiable.