Denmark: Minorities on TV

Denmark: Minorities on TV

"You're a wannabe Dane," says Aisha with a headscarf to her sister Jasmina in the new TV show "Livvagterne" (Bodyguards), by Danish broadcaster Danmarks Radio, the second show to be broadcast today.

Jasmina El Murad is one of the head roles in Livvagterne.  She's an immigrant of Muslim background who tried to be recognized in today's Denmark as an equal citizen, in this case as a bodyguard in the PET (Danish Intelligence Service).  and is also accused by her sister of trying to be Danish.

Jasmina and colleague Jonas Goldschmidt, a Jew, have two head roles and show a new tendency among Danish script writers, which had long existed in American movies and TV shows, says Peter Schepelern, associate professor of Film and Media Studies at Copenhagen University.

"There's no doubt that people want to make a small part of the population, which has gotten a lot of political attention, visible.  We're otherwise accustomed to seeing immigrants in fictional movies as taxi drivers, kiosk owners or in the criminal community.  There's an aim to make the foreigners in Danish society more common," says Peter Schepelern.

In Denmark movies like "Pusher" and "Pizza King" tied immigrants to crime, but in Sweden there's movies like "Jalla Jalla" from 2000 which use immigrants as police officers and Jasmine  and Goldschmidt are a part of a healthy development in Denmark, thinks Mogen Rukov, head  of the Danish Film School's script department.

"This is a clear tendency, and here it's make provocatively clear.  It's very sympathetic when one puts people from another ethnic minority in a setting that doesn't deal with ethnicity," co-author of the film "Go in peace, Jamil" (Gå med fred, Jamil).

He thinks though, there it brings a dream-picture of a multi-ethnic society and fears that the characters can be misunderstood as high-politics agents.

"The series enters the big clash between civilizations.  The use of a headscarf is a sign of that.  There's political influence and somebody can naively come to confound a Muslim with Islamization and describe a cultural clash, you can't justify.  It can become a dangerous political pact, where one articulates himself in a high-politics contradiction."

The author couple of Mai Brostrøm and Peter Thorsboe are responsible for "Livvagterne". They formerly put immigrants in central roles, for example Nazim in the TV show "Ørnen".

"It's a reflection of some reality.  There's a wish to draw out well-educated Muslims.  There are many Danes of another ethnic background, who want to do something.  We want to show that it's not just problematic.  There are common people with a wish.  It's not easy to show that somebody is a 'wannabe Dane'.  It's harmful, says Peter Thorsboe.

Source: Kristeligt Dagblad (Danish)

See also: Göteborg: 'Go in peace Jamil' wins awards

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