Contrary to 2014, when YLE aired Pekka ja Pätkä n-word (1960), the new showing of the movie Wednesday with blackface actors raised quite a storm on social media and was even reported by MTV, tabloid Ilta-Sanomat, and HBL.
Apart from showing a racist movie that insults black people, showing it during a time when anti-immigration sentiment and xenophobia is another question that it raises.
Reaction to the movie was so strong on social media that the program manager of TV1, Pentti Väliahdet, released a statement below.
The statement doesn’t do any justice to some of the 31,000-strong African and Afrofinn community in Finland and doesn’t even offer an apology.
YLE appears defiant showing its white privilege and power.
Väliahdet justifies the airing of the movie by stating that one of YLE’s responsibilitiies is to air black-and-white Finnish movies from 1940-60. Older viewers watch these movies, according to him.
“The movie should be seen and studied from the perspective of when it was filmed [in 1960]. Finland was back then an isolated country and we didn’t see any dark-skinned people in public. This move pictures above all Finnish attitudes and prejudices [towards blacks]. To those type of people the movie laughs at them, and even the viewer should laugh at the attitudes and prejudices of those times.”
Some of the comments that Migrant Tales received were equally surprising since they justified “the attitudes and prejudices” of those time against blacks.
One comment on Facebook stated that the Pekka ja Pätkä movie with blackface actors and another one that is even more racist called Ketjukolari aired by YLE in September, “were not demeaning, they were meant to be adventurous with comedic effects.”
He continues: “Not to mention that there actually WERE cannibals in Africa during that time [when the movie Ketjukolari was filmed in 1957]. Of course, there are people who get offended by anything, be it race, political views, sexuality or culture, but tolerance also works both ways.”
The statement by YLE and the comment above are points of views by white people of blacks.
D4R, a longtime blogger at Migrant Tales, is black.
He writes: This movies [Pekka ja Pätkä n-word and Ketjukolari] are very harmful to colored kids living in Finland. It has negative stereotypes about africans. In USA they used to make fun of black people by wearing black faces and in some movies just to amuse white people and white people used to laugh at black people because they saw them as lesser humans almost comparable to apes. Name ommited, your justification for this movies is very weak because you say it was something to do with the past, well in the past we humans were ignorant about many things, racism used to be normal part of life among white people. We shouldn’t go back to ignorant times so more people can be harmed, we should wise up and correct our behaviour.
When I was a child in Finnish school, Finnish kids were mocking me and making fun of my appearances, I wonder where they get those ideas to mock me. I dont want any other colored kid to go through what I went through. this needs to stop and yle needs to stop showing these hrmful movies. Some kids picked on me at school because of the image the media fed to kids and teenagers [about blacks].”
Let’s hope these two movies are aired for the last time on Finnish television.
If they are, however, aired for some reason again, they should carry the following warning: The movie has racist content that could insult some viewers and reinforce social ills like bigotry, prejudice, and other anti-social attitudes.