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Tuesday, 20 March 2012 15:56

We are embarrassed!

Written by

Open letter from the editors of two European youth magazines to the European Commission

Recently, Stefano Sannino, the European Director General for Enlargement, hurriedly withdrew a promotional video which was supposed to encourage young Europeans to think positively about EU enlargement.

It's hard to say which aspect of this video was more ridiculous.

Many newspapers pointed out the racial stereotyping of the three scary men who surrounded the white woman in the Kill Bill-style leotard. Then there was the fact that the woman summoned 11 identical versions of herself to defeat the outsiders, who vanished to make way for the EU flag. What happened to the old slogan, "unity in diversity"? If they had to go with this concept, couldn't she at least have summoned a whole variety of people, all dressed in different yellow outfits? Let's not forget, the EU consists of 27 countries, each with their own traditions, languages and peculiarities. It's very unlikely that they would choose to wear the same outfit... And then there was the budget, for which there were probably an infinite number of better uses, given the public reaction to the video.

We are the editors of two established online magazines for young Europeans. We - and our readers - belong to the age group which was apparently targeted by the video. We "understand the plots and themes of martial arts films and video games," as Stefano Sannino said in his defence of the advert.

But we still find this video embarrassing. Apart from the fact that a lot of (young) people considered the video racist, there are still so many other things wrong with it.

We are embarrassed at the thought of what young people from other parts of the world might think about Europe when they see it, and at the thought of what non-white Europeans might think about their home continent when they see it. We are embarrassed to see that Europe, a woman, is presented as the peaceful one, whilst the men are evil and aggressive.

However, most of all, we are sad to see the EU relying on scare tactics to publicise enlargement. The video implies that Europe is being threatened from the outside and that we need to get together to fight off attacks. This does not reflect the image of a united Europe which has emerged from the ideas of our writers and readers: a Europe which is open to all kinds of cultures and debates, and a Europe which is able to criticise itself and see that many of its problems come from within. (And not from a levitating Indian guy, oddly enough.)

Yes, the EU should use advertising to reach out to young people - and to people with all different views of enlargement and integration. Yes, it should be inventive and provocative in the way it does that - we don't need to hear the same boring slogans again and again. But we'd really like to see a film about a Europe that can criticise itself constructively, a Europe of creative diversity rather than dull homogeneity, a Europe with a common mindset rather than common enemies. This is the Europe we talk about and represent in our magazines - and this is the Europe in which we want to live.

 

Julia Korbik on behalf of the German-language site www.dieeuros.eu

Jane Rawlinson on behalf of the English-language site www.theeuros.eu

Lucy Duggan on behalf of www.europeandme.eu

Last modified on Saturday, 24 March 2012 14:30
Editorial

If the Editorial team had an actual office it would have to stretch from the corner of Britain to the edges of Spain, Sweden, Germany and beyond. (With frequent trips to America too) .  The term 'from the editorial office' then, is very much a figure of speech. 

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