COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Danish television has a request for the world: "Don't hate us!"
Several high profile events — from the killing of Marius the giraffe and his very public dissection at the Copenhagen Zoo to a recently passed law that allows police to seize valuables from migrants — has led to a barrage of negative publicity as the world began questioning whether something was indeed rotten in the state of Denmark.
Now this small Scandinavian nation of 5.6 million is fighting to gain back its reputation, which includes twice grabbing top spots on the United Nation's World Happiness Report.
Embassies have rushed to post online facts about the European immigration crisis seen from Denmark and public broadcaster DR aired an English-language satirical video with a clear message.
"We're very sorry, but Denmark isn't such a bad place," says the thick Danish accented voice on the DR3 clip Denmark Propaganda — Don't hate us!
The two-and-half-minute tongue-in-the-cheek sequence with a thick Danish accented voice-over enumerates what has made Denmark famous: design, bacon, multi-colored Lego building bricks and fairy tale writer Hans Christian Andersen who "always wrote about ugly, poor, disabled, tiny creatures who (were) accepted at the end."
The video reminds viewers that that Denmark embraces both neo-Nazis and a freewheeling hippie enclave in Copenhagen, and was the first country in the world to legalize pornography, in 1969, and to allow homosexuals to enter registered partnerships twenty years later. It notes that the national dish is fried lard and white milk sauce with parsley and that beer is cheaper than water.
"There was a need to come up with something to correct Denmark's bad reputation. This was a way to sum up who Danes are, including the good and bad stuff," Irene Stroeyer, head of the DR3 channel, said laughing.
There has also been some effort made to clarify the situation around migrants and their assets.
The law that brought asylum-seekers in line with welfare rules for Danes, who must sell assets worth above 10,000 kroner ($1,500) before they can receive social benefits, was the latest to draw a deluge of negative online reactions.
"Sometimes things are misunderstood like we were going to take people's jewelry. We will not take jewelry," Kristian Jensen, Denmark's foreign minister, said in a television interview.
While the public relations efforts might quiet some critics, more viral condemnation can be expected as ordinary people all over the world can voice their indignation on social media, said Vincent F. Hendricks, a philosophy professor with the University of Copenhagen. "Some people don't even want to listen to the facts if the facts do not fit into their agenda."
Public television YouTube image segment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhuJyCw06lw