14 October 2006

Aku Rules

The divine Terese Catanzariti, dean emerita of foreign correspondents in Oulu, who set a standard of journalistic excellence never to be equaled in our lifetimes, once filed a dispatch about why Finns like Donald Duck and do not like Mickey Mouse. I wanted to attach it as a link, but now I am unable to find it on the internet. Bummer. It has gone the way of all pixels, I guess.

Catanzariti’s argument, as I recall, was that everything goes right for MM. People naturally defer to a guy who gets the job done without breaking a sweat. And that is precisely the reason that Finns can’t warm up him.

Donald—known here as Aku Ankka—is, by contrast, a clever, industrious, and good-natured but somewhat hapless fellow as likely to be tripped up by genuine evil or blind fate as by his nephews’ mischievousness. Life is more of a struggle for him. Now this is the kind of chap to whom a melancholy Finn can relate.

I was and am persuaded by Catanzariti’s argument, but I was not completely prepared for the dimensions of Aku Ankka’s celebrity here. You see people reading Aku Ankka paperbacks on the bus, in the kahvila, just about anywhere. I have my own supply of them in my flat.

My asunto came furnished. In fact, my landlord left many half-consumed products in the kitchen cupboards, pantry, and shower caddy, thinking that I would appreciate not having to run out right away to buy things like coffee filters and shampoo. He was right, I did and do appreciate that. I don’t mind living with his detritus. It’s a guy thing. Anyway, in the living room/bedroom, he emptied out all the drawers of the bureau save one, which I discovered was filled to the brim with Aku Ankka paperbacks, all of them dog-eared. My landlord is a very generous fellow.

But my language skills are nowhere near the level that would allow me to penetrate these things. I’ve tried—Aku Ankka in my right hand, sanakirja (dictionary) in my left—but it just isn't worth the effort. So, I’m afraid The Donald will rank right up there with pesäpallo and NASCAR as Finnish passions that I’ll probably never completely understand. I wonder how Treezycat did it.


Anonymous j said...

Might this be the article you're referring to?


I, like so many other Finns, learned to read before I even went to school, at the age of 4, all thanks to Aku Ankka...

Do try to keep reading it, even though it might be difficult. The Finnish in Aku Ankka is very eloquent and in fact far better than
in most of the newspapers and magazines...

7:29 PM  
Blogger fulbrighterinfinland said...

Yes, j, this is it. Hei kaikki, everyone needs to click on the link and read Treezycat's terrific column about Donald Duck, the Finnish national character, and American foreign policy. I had forgotten the part about how DD speaks a funny language and no one understands him.

And, okay, I think I've nearly worn out my sanakirja, but I'll stick with it. Many thanks for the comment, which has the ring of truth, and the link. Cheers!

8:41 AM  
Anonymous A. Nonyymi said...

well that one was down for the time being, but wasn't too hard to find out from the google cache what the article was and what read innit. here: alternative link

i read a lot of aku back in the days before giving up on following media in general late 90s, but i still occasionally find myself browsing the paperbacks in the libraby on the lookout for don rosa's episodes. i didn't learn to read from aku ankka, nor before the school, though. but indeed, i do remember disliking mickey quite early and having easier time associating with the other disney characters.
also, i find the animated cartoons featuring donald being somewhat annoying, the comic is way better. dunno what's with it. they're a bit like that wile. e. coyote and road runner with too much explosions and angry barking with foam coming out of one's mouth going on, i guess.

but i've surely done my fair share of supporting the coalition of kekkonen, d. w. duck, phantom and the mighty churchboat itself ^^, since the candidates seem to be... unfitting quite often. on the same note it's not just an young adult thing; many older folks within the family agree that it isn't important what you vote, just as long as you bother to do it in the first place. the churchboat-coalition option is way better than opting in for the sleeping party.
btw, i hear "conan o'brien"-votes ranked quite high in the last presidential election. mighta even given some competition to aku.

10:32 AM  
Blogger fulbrighterinfinland said...

This is wonderful. The voice of Finland is starting to make itself heard through this blog. At last. And all it took was Aku Ankka!

10:46 AM  

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