Perker, Hvad?!? is an upcoming documentary film project that investigates the current race and social equality issues in Denmark. The film is centered around Denmark’s notorious racial slur that pejoratively refers to Muslims and immigrants who come from North Africa and the Middle East: Perker. The way this word is used in street vernacular in Denmark is wholly analagous to the word nigger in the United States. The word perker is a huge taboo in Danish society; it is off limits to anyone who is not a part of the social and cultural group it was originally intended to demean. However, just as many Black Americans have adopted nigger as a part of their colloquial identity, perker has become the “it” word for Danish minority youth.
Wonderful Copenhagen: Almost American In So Many Ways
Copenhagen, Denmark, is a modern metropolis, full of cultural diversity and a thriving new generation of young people. It is in many ways very similar to American cities of the 21st century – an exhibition of modern architecture juxtaposed against historic structures, filled with international tourism and multiculturalism. The Copenhagen nightlife is an eclectic mix of music, art and performances that touch a broad variety of genres. At first glance, one might observe that in many ways, Denmark has at the very least taken many cues from American culture, if not blatantly imitating it in multiple aspects. Copenhagen is particularly full of Danish translations of American culture, full of American stores, fashion, and a generation raised on American films and television. With such a large percentage of the population being fluent in English as well, many Danes have even adopted American figures of speech and colloquialisms. However, it seems that this translation is not limited to NY Yankees caps and reality TV; Denmark has also picked up a few less than flattering aspects of American society. Racism, discrimination, inequality in Denmark is almost a mirror image of these American social ills.
Denmark is also one of many European Nations that has experienced a culture clash in recent years; having a rapidly growing immigrant population that has not assimilated to the Danish cultural design has presented major urban social issues. Young people, especially those whose heritage stems from Northern Africa and the Middle East, many of whom are Muslims, have found themselves essentially marginalized. Despite having never set foot on American soil, these Danish youths have not only embraced and identified with American Hip Hop, but they have also adapted it and reinvented it to fit their own social milieu. In recent years, Hip Hop has become a voice and a core part of the identity for many urban Danish youths. This is particularly true in the case of “Perker Rap.”
Focus and Purpose
Perker, Hvad?!? will delve into the reality of Danish racial diversity and inequality in the 21st century. Hip Hop, as in the U.S. has become a cultural vehicle for the thousands of Danish youths whose identity falls outside of the dominant discourse of Danish society. The film will tell their stories and shed light on the cultural paradigm that flourishes in Denmark’s urban centers. This documentary film will address questions of identity, the urban struggle, mass culture and Hip Hop in a place far removed the American urban landscape. Perker, Hvad?!? investigates why and how Hip Hop has become fused with the identity and voice of urban youth in a uniquely un-American urban environment.
Inevitably, Perker, Hvad?!?, will create an unprecedented point of cultural reflection between America and Denmark. It is my firm belief that if a society is to effectively address the ills of its urban community, then it must clearly understand the urban identity. By delving deeply and candidly into the cultural and social realities brought to light by Hip Hop in urban environments, we can forge a new understanding of the urban identity for both Americans and Danes alike.
Perker, Hvad?!? is currently in production and is scheduled to be released in early 2011.