• Denmark's TV 2 released a powerful video designed to break down barriers between its people. (TV 2)Source: TV 2
Denmark's TV 2 ad is a timely reminder that there's more that unites us than tears us apart.
By
Mariam Digges

1 Feb 2017 - 4:31 PM  UPDATED 7 Feb 2017 - 10:49 AM

This Danish ad by TV 2, about the need for cultural acceptance, All That We Share, has already clocked up over 640,000 views on YouTube (and counting).

It opens with the line: ‘It’s easy to put people in boxes’. And therein lies its core message.

The TV 2 ad has gone viral for its simple yet effective conveyance of a universal message, delivered at a time when it’s deeply needed. 

Various groups silently filter onto a soundstage. We meet The High Earners versus Those Just Getting By, and Those We Trust versus Those We Try To Avoid, before The Lifelong Danes appear versus Those New to Denmark.

“Divisions you will find not just in Denmark, but in any country on Earth” a narrator says.

Then, a moderator begins to ask the group some simple questions.

"Who was the class clown?” Who are stepparents?" "Who has been madly in love?" "Who has felt lonely?" and slowly, one by one, people begin stepping out of their boxes and standing together in the centre.

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The questioning continues, as the narrator takes us into the participants' minds.

"Suddenly, there's us: we who believe in life after death. We who've seen UFOs. And all of us who love to dance," as a few folks show off their moves.

The grouping continues as "we who've been bullied" stand beside those "who've bullied others," and a kid hangs his head in shame. 

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"We who are bisexual, and we who acknowledge the courage of others." One man steps forward, and a round of applause erupts. 

The longer the moderator continues, the more we see how much the participants share in common; there’s no more ‘them’, there's just an ‘us’.

"Then there is all of us who just love Denmark," the narrator concludes, as people begin to hug.

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"So maybe, there's more that brings us together than we think."

So simple is its removal of the layers of racial, religious and sexual prejudice that it taps into a very simple question: what would happen if more people asked more mundane questions of one another? What would happen if more people spoke to one another at all?

Throughout the 20th century, Denmark, a country of around six million, became home to refugees and immigrants from the Balkans, the Middle East, and beyond, which today account for 10 percent of the total population. But its reputation as a safe haven for those in need has been steadily declining; last year, the Danish parliament passed a controversial bill allowing authorities to seize any assets exceeding $1,450 from asylum-seekers so they could help pay for the migrants’ subsistence in the country (the bill excluded items of “sentimental value,” such as wedding rings).

The longer the moderator continues, the more we see how much the participants share in common; there’s no more ‘them’, there's just an ‘us’.

In 2016, researchers stumbled on a radical method for reducing another person's bigotry: it came down to a brief, honest conversation.

David Broockman from Stanford University and University of California Berkeley’s Joshua Kalla examined how simple conversations helped reverse anti-transgender attitudes. A simple, 10-minute, non-confrontational discussion in the homes of over 500 voters in South Florida, who were asked to put themselves in the shoes of a transgender person and understand their problems, was enough to make them reevaluate their biases. And, the results were enduring.

So if we can take anything from this ad, it’s that finding common ground with someone we think lives in a different ‘box’ to us is not on the sprawling list of life’s unattainables – it’s probably just a conversation away. 


 

Face Up To Racism #FU2Racism with a season of stories and programs challenging preconceptions around race and prejudice. Tune in to watch Is Australia Racist? (airs on Sunday 26 February at 8.30pm), Date My Race (airs Monday 27 February at 8.30pm) and The Truth About Racism (airs Wednesday 1 March at 8.30pm). Watch all the documentaries online after they air on SBS On Demand

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