Straight Up: What ‘X Factor’ says about Denmark – The Post

Straight Up: What ‘X Factor’ says about Denmark

The nation still hasn’t fully embraced its new cultural identity
April 16th, 2016 7:00 pm| by Zach Khadudu
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Truth be told, Danes love their talent shows. And on the first Friday of this month, they were glued to their screens for the grand finale of the 2016 edition of ‘X Factor’.

One small (dance) step
Many tuned in to root for their favourite contestants, and in the end, the sister-duo of Anilde and Azilda, two African-Danes of Angolan extraction, won the contest and received roaring cheers and standing ovations. They have since become local celebs.

This win by the African-Danish sisters in a national contest is a clear indication that Denmark’s demographics are changing fast. Whether we like it or not, this country is fast-becoming ever more multicultural, multi-ethnic and, dare I add, multilingual.

This is a good thing. It’s a global wave that can’t be stopped. Not by hook, not by crook. Unless of course you belong to that political wing that believes closing borders and maintaining cultural homogeneity is the way to a Danish nirvana.

A rare exception
Unfortunately, the win by the two girls is a rather rare exception. See, the media is a mirror of society, and as such, when we look at the Danish media we should see a reflection of the ‘real’ Danish society, but do we? Nope. Here is the thing: the power of the media in reflecting and shaping a society cannot be underestimated.

Let’s crunch numbers. The latest official statistics show that as of April 2016, Denmark had 700,000 immigrants amongst its population. That’s 12 percent of the total population, yet their representation in the media is almost negligible.

Whiter than the Oscars
If you thought the Oscars were white, try watching Danish non-fictional TV. The TV news industry is still hung up on the image of a sassy-sexy ‘True-Dane’ reporter. This narrow view of talent reflects on the narratives we get. Any news editor will tell you that news selection decisions are quite subjective, so diversity in a newsroom not only serves society, but adds to the different points of view of the related narratives.

If you walk the corridors of any journalism school in Denmark, you’ll meet the most intelligent and talented young people. And some of the crème de la crème are of foreign origin. The question remains, therefore: where do these young talents end up after graduation, as we don’t see them on telly?

Needs to reflect society
Granted, I’m very sceptical of any kinds of affirmative action or so called positive discrimination, but am also unconvinced there are not people of colour who are talented enough to be on our screens as journos.

The bottom line is this: the kids growing up in Denmark today are tech-savvy. They spend considerable time consuming television and other media. Until the impressionable young kids of colour growing up in this country start seeing their reflections on the screens as a part of society, it will be an uphill task trying to convince them that they do, indeed, belong. Such is the power of the media.

Zach Khadudu


Zach Khadudu is a Kenyan by birth and a journalist by choice. He is a commentator and an activist with a passion for refugee and human rights. He may share a heritage with a certain US president, but his heart lies elsewhere – in the written and spoken word.