sunnudagur, október 26, 2008

Survival of the Cute - Controversy in Icelandic papers about the "cuddly generation"

Article on the site of Iceland Review by Zoë Robert:

While the government is preoccupied with acquiring loans to rescue the nation’s frozen economy, debate about the economic recession among the public has finally moved on—and in this case, to the trivial: to the survival of the krúttkynslódin or the “cuddly generation,” and the use of this bizarre label. The term has been used to describe a generation of young creative Icelanders and is often associated with environmentalism and anti-materialism?and naivety.
A recent article on the The Guardian website described the generation like this: “Older islanders call them the ‘Krútt-kynslotin’ [sic] - the cuddly generation. Eco-aware, earnest but pampered, they drift from organic café to bar, listening to the music of Björk and Sigur Rós, islanders who have made it big abroad.”
Not the most flattering description. But, now that Iceland’s economy has gone bust, what lies in store for Iceland’s cuddly youth? Let me fill you in with the current debate.
Icelandic historian Valur Gunnarsson arose controversy when he wrote a lengthy opinion piece in daily Morgunbladid last Saturday), arguing that the Icelandic krútt generation was dead. Gunnarsson argued that “in all likelihood the so-called krútt generation has sung its last song. Those who are in some way opposed to the mainstream will no longer find it sufficient to be just a krútt. The demand will follow that artists will have more to offer.”
Gunnarsson went on to say that this young carefree generation will become angrier and more serious due to the economic crisis in Iceland, and that a new approach by today’s youth will be necessary.
Something that has been in the back of my mind during these past few weeks, after obviously how ordinary families are coping, is how the recession will affect creativity in this country so abundant with young artists, musicians and writers. Will the economic depression stifle creativity? We have already seen many businesses close, and small independent stores are perhaps most exposed to the financial downturn. Will artists be among the victims of the economic crisis?
The recent Iceland Airwaves music festival—which attracts music-lovers from all over the world and has helped Icelandic artists, and the Icelandic music scene in general, gain international recognition—went ahead this year despite spiraling costs, caused by the sharp depreciation of the króna against the euro.
The weak króna made paying international acts in euro particularly painful for organizers, who say they lost money on this year’s festival which will make it a challenge to put on the event in the same form next year.
In response to Gunnarsson’s article, Arnar Eggert Thoroddsen, a music critic for Morgunbladid, came to the defense of Iceland’s youth in an opinion piece on Wednesday. Thoroddsen argued that “if anyone will have anything to offer in the times ahead then it will be precisely these [members of the krútt generation].”
Supporting his case, Thoroddsen went through the list of bands and artists that have been given the controversial krútt label, such as Sigur Rós, Múm, Amiina, Björk, Emilíana Torrini, Benni Hemm Hemm and Ólöf Arnalds, most of whom have gained respect inside and outside of Iceland through their contribution to music.
Thoroddsen also commented that the term krútt is too vague to be applied in an analysis of the music scene, and didn’t have any value to the discussion, something that Amiina vocalist María Huld Markan agrees with.
Markan commented in an article in Morgunbladid that she hoped journalists would put an end to such unsophisticated labeling which attempts to put a diverse group of artists in one box. And, I agree, I’ve never understood why such a ridiculous term, which refers to a generation as “cute” and “cuddly,” continues to be used. Markan also criticized Gunnarsson’s piece, saying that it was easy to attack such sincere artists who had put their heart and soul into their work.
An article in the Advertising Age says that the cuddly generation “is a generation of yuppies begat by fishermen—a generation that's now going to have learn how to roll up its sleeves.” One man has, in good humor, set up a website entitled: “Adopt an Icelander” with the aim of saving Iceland’s trendy youth.
“[...] they need your help. Please donate whatever you can - money, plane tickets, alcohol or kind words (they all speak English). Anything to help these beautiful, fun-loving Viking progeny reclaim the free-spirited times of no work and all play to which they grew so accustomed... even if it's just for one wild night,” the website reads.
How the economic crisis will affect Iceland’s cuddly generation is anyone’s guess, really. A keener interest in politics in this country, and an appreciation for hard work—including manual labor such as construction that immigrants returning home will leave behind—can only be good. May the future be bright.
Source: Iceland Review Online

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