Despite the blinding sun and the freezing cold, what has been on Icelanders’ minds as of late? Here’s a round-up of fresh debates, hot topics and crazy madness from these past few days.
Nobody is more serious than Icelanders when it comes to Eurovision. We know the important thing in life is to participate so we do it with syle. We go all out. And we go temporarily insane—collectively, as a team. Last weekend, for instance, the entire nation sat down in front of the TV to choose this year’s candidate to the flamboyant European music contest. Young talents Dagur Sigurðsson and Ari Ólafsson competed against each other on stage, mesmerizing the audience with their songs ‘Í stormi’ (In the storm) and ‘Our Choice.’ Ari overwhelmingly won the public vote, despite the two songs being similarly bland. The voting system, however, caused a social media storm when the author of ‘Í stormi’ reportedly complained about receiving texts from disappointed family members and friends who couldn’t manage to cast their vote. “My mother in law called in 42 times but at least twelve times the call didn’t go through,” the man told RÚV. As much as we admire the tenacity, in cases like this it’s easier to flee than fight. After all, “the nation has spoken”—or so people keep writing on social media, as we wonder whether the nation has truly nothing better to think about.
It’s true that Icelanders have a short memory, but certain things are hard to forget. Remember the infamous 25 shipments of weapons to Saudi Arabia that the Icelandic government allowed through despite local and International laws? After Left-Green MP Rósa Björk Brynjólfsdóttir slammed the government, calling the news “deadly serious,” more politicians added their two cents to the debate. Many of them have lamented the lack of clear guidelines when it comes to dealing with weaponry exports, while others have criticised the government for being hypocritical. “We talk of freedom but then we send weapons to Saudi Arabia so they can be sent to Syria or Yemen, where people are killed and women and children are forced to be on the run,” Logi Einarsson, chair of the Social Democratic Party, told RÚV. “But then we put up fences and we say we can only take in a few refugees, not too many. We’re playing a bad game in a bad world. Now we need to discuss our fundamental values.”
When Icelandic composer Johann Jóhannsson died last month, people from all over the world commemorated him on social media, remembering his great talent and rising career. The world of cinema and entertainment, however, gave a last nod to the power of Jóhann’s music during the 90th Academy Awards yesterday night, when musician Eddie Vedder sang ‘Room at the Top’ in memoriam of actors, producers and Hollywood contributors who passed away last year. This was Hollywood’s last salute to the Icelandic man who had won two Oscars for Best Original Music Score. Read our own memorial to Jóhann here.