From Iceland — What Are Icelanders Talking About?: Tongue-Gate, Mountain Dew Attack & Political Turmoil

What Are Icelanders Talking About?: Tongue-Gate, Mountain Dew Attack & Political Turmoil

Published August 27, 2018

Icelanders may be a bit sheltered on this isolated rock, but that does not mean that terror does not strike here. The nation was shocked when the country’s most popular rap band, Jói P x Króli, were assaulted with a Mountain Dew bottle on stage at Menningarnótt in front of tens of thousands of onlookers. Tragedy was averted though, both Jói P and Króli survived to finish the concert.

The main topic for the season is political turmoil in the Reykjavík City Government. At the start of the electoral term earlier this summer, the opposition parties, Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn (XD), Miðflokkurinn (XM), Flokkur Fólksins (XF) and Sósíalistaflokkurinn (XJ) banded together to form a shadow coalition. It’s a rag-tag bunch, as XD is the major right-wing party (think UK Tories or a Scandi Republican Party); XM is a populist splinter from the farmers’ party; XF are kinda socialist, kinda populust, kinda comment troll types; and XJ are, well, socialists, idealists, and activists from the union movement.

What follows is a short seminar on media etiquette, courtesy of the Grapevine:

In a number of incidences, the Opposition has booked criticisms, held press conferences and so on regarding minute problems in city governance. Office politics, really. Seen from a distance, the Opposition may have an actual platform, clear goals for the city, but if so, it’s fully hidden by the almost daily grandstanding. During summer leave, we’ve gotten regular news about press conferences where these smurfs complain about technical problems in meeting invitations, delays in informa… Sorry I fell asleep. Where was I? Oh yes. So.

The new thing is that Líf Magneudóttir, majority council member, stuck her tongue out at an opposition councillor. The reason was that… Oh god I don’t want to know (but you can read about it on page 14). Something about a bike path maybe? Anyway, the orally assaulted, Marta Guðjónsdóttir, refused to accept Líf’s apology, because she thought that Líf was trying to avoid getting this issue booked into the… uh, book. City book. So now, there’s official record about someone sticking their tongue out in a city meeting. Justice served. The clear winners is the media, who got three days of vapid news and stupid op-eds trying to put meaning into something so mindlessly dull and pointless, while those elected to make sure the city is running all carry on with the delusion that this is all somehow about them, that they hold any interest and value to the public beyond their elected roles.

In a city where a lot of things could be duly criticised, there really isn’t space for these throbbing wounded egos. With gridlock, for both cars and pedestrians, often caused by badly marked, announced and explained closures due to constructions (which we assume are mostly luxury hotels), in a city where there’s an ongoing housing crisis where solutions are moving at a glacial pace, there isn’t really any other response to petty politicians than scorn. In short, their job is to make the lives of the public better and easier, but all we see drama about their own jobs and lives.

A popular viral video cast city council members as characters in Bílastæðaverðirnir (The Parking Attendants), a sketch from 90’s comedy Fóstbræður, where the joke was that staff at a parking garage were embroiled in undefined soap opera drama, alluding to some high stakes, hurt feelings and the ever present threat from off-camera persona “Jens,” while all happening in a small parking garage that for some reason had five-plus staff members.

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