• Five Things from Sweden That Aren't as Good as They Might Seem

    It appears President Obama is looking towards Sweden's model of government-assisted banking to help America's troubled financial sector. Many believe Sweden recovered from its recession twenty years ago as a result of the government's support and active oversight. While the Swedish model seems enticing, President Obama would do well to remember other Swedish influences, that while initially promising, proved to be less than desirable.

    IKEA

    Sure, discount, do-it-yourself furniture seems like a good idea. I mean, how else can you furnish every room in your entire apartment for under $900? But look more closely.

    No not at the warping that occurs after a week. Over here. No. Not at the imitation wood wallpaper that separates from the composite board after three weeks. Here. At the directions. Notice something? Right. There are no words!

    You might think that's because the explanatory diagrams are so helpful there's no need for language, but you'd be mistaken. More accurately, it's because there's no Swedish equivalent for the phrase: "Beware! Intense searing arthritic pain to be caused by cruelly-shaped "L" wrench!"

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    Swedish Chef

    Yes, as a child the Swedish chef from the old Muppet Show was very amusing. What are those funny words he's saying? Oh, I can't see his eyes beneath that amusingly bushy brow. And he's so adorable. I just want to squeeze every last bit of his plush, muppety body and… uh…

    What's with his hands! Good lord! What have you done to his hands! HE HAS HUMAN HANDS! What sort of twisted amalgam of muppet and man have you created?

    No wonder those chickens were terrified.

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    Swedish Massage

    Relaxing? Check.

    Good for blood flow? Check.

    The number one culprit for spreading chlamydia? Check!

    How do I know? Never mind. I don't.

    Forget I said anything.

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    Existentialist Cinema

    No one can argue that Ingmar Bergman isn't a genius. His film, The Seventh Seal, is a classic of existential, expressionist drama — and not just because the scene in which a man plays chess with Death spawned a hilarious send up in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. I mean, any film student will tell you, it's a classic (and then ask to borrow money so they can buy some leather patches for their vintage tweed overcoat).

    But, the thing is, have you tried to watch The Seventh Seal? Or Swedish cinema in general? It's really depressing. And don't take my word for it. Ask Swedish film star, Max von Sydow. Why doesn't he keep making movies for Mr. Bergman if Ingmar is so great? And don't give me that "Uh, because he's dead," excuse.

    It's because Max knew that if he portrayed a philosophical notion in a black and white film just one more time, he'd lose it. Indeed, existentialist drama likely took its toll on poor Max. How else to explain his appearances in Flash Gordon and Judge Dredd?

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    Stockholm Syndrome

    In these dark times, loyalty is something we just can't get enough of. Someone to watch your back. Someone to lend a hand. Someone to rob a bank at machine gun point in the name of the Symbionese Liberation Front!

    Yes, the Swedes introduced us to the notion of gaining loyalty through abuse -– namely the psychological phenomenon of captives gaining sympathy for their captors over a period of time.

    It's probably not fair for me to blame the entire Swedish nation for a phenomenon named after an incident featuring a few bank robbers in Stockholm, but as I'm writing this on a crappy computer desk I bought from IKEA, you'll have to cut me some slack.

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    So there you have it. The five largest deceptively evil influences from Sweden. Study them well Mr. President. Otherwise the promise of a new economy might fall through as easily as the shelf on my entertainment center when I placed my television on it.


    Tags: Barack Obama, Economy, Sweden

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