Published June 11, 2004
At our party two weeks ago I spoke to a Bulgarian girl who said that the reason she initially wanted to come to Iceland was that she had heard it was very liberal, with a great gay scene and the first female president. After she came here, though, she has been somewhat disappointed.
The gays are doing their best, putting on a great show at Jón Forseti, despite a cast member having been beaten up by gay bashers the night before (see p. 18). Bigotry? There´s no such thing in Iceland.
It´s interesting that these days the ambassadors here of the old imperialist Anglo-Saxon powers of Britain and the USA have dark skin. The countries that once took up the White Man´s Burden are now being represented by blacks in the whitest country in the world (much admired as such by the Nazis). But of course, we welcome people of every colour and creed. Sure, when a deal was reached with the Americans in 1946 to station troops here, there was a secret clause demanding that no black soldiers come to Iceland. Bigotry? There´s no such thing in Iceland.
In the film Troy, Helen, supposedly the most beautiful woman in history, is portrayed by a blonde, pale-skinned German. This apart from the fact that the story is set in the Eastern Mediterranean, and Helen would no doubt have had much darker features. The same goes for Achilles, portrayed by the no less blonde and fair skinned Brad Pitt. Throughout history, heroes of the ancient world, (Jesus being a case in point) have always had their appearances changed to accord with the ideals of the Northern European peoples who write it.
For our cover, and linking in with articles on women in Iceland as well as 60 years of independence, we decided to put on the cover a picture of a woman wearing the traditional costume. To counter localised ideals of beauty, as well as to embrace the multicultural society, we decided to ask a black woman to wear the costume. We thought this was kinda nice. Little did we expect the reaction. The lady who was going to lend us the costume withdrew her offer upon hearing of who was to wear it. Not because she didn´t like the person in question, or had ever met her before, but because she was black. We then decided to rent a costume. The answer was the same. We asked the woman who owned the rental whether she would refuse a person point blank to rent a certain costume on the basis of her colour, to which she replied she would.
We had to go all the way to Laugavatn and borrow a costume from the Woman´s Association there, who of course had no objection to the idea, to finally make the shoot. The result is, as we had hoped, a beautiful picture. If anyone is offended, well…
On a lighter note, we also have a new staff member, Beerman. He won´t be around the office much, but you´ll see him at the bar. These days, as a practitioner of irresponsible sex, he´s very worried about the chlamydia epidemic that´s been going round. Well, it´s a good thing someone is, because the health department sure isn’t. As mentioned in the last issue of Grapevine, they don´t think it necessary to keep chemists open after midnight since the only people that come there ask for syringes and condoms. If helping people to avoid life threatening diseases such as hepatitis C and HIV, as well as lesser evils such as chlamydia and unwanted pregnancies is not important then what, pray tell is?