Thursday, October 13, 2011

On fashionable affairs

Last week the Norwegian government presented the National Budget for 2012 (that's right - we don't believe in Mayan predictions here). It wasn't exactly a thriller - a budget presented by a majority government that has been sitting for six years, in a country where the economy is reasonably healthy and stable, the unemployment is low, while the rest of the world seems headed into a new financial crisis. Hardly the time to make dramatic changes. No one were overly excited.

That being said, it's still our National Budget, and regardless of how small the changes may be, there are some changes, and they will impact our daily lives. Thus, I found it slightly disturbing that what the media seemed to focus on was not the numbers in the budget, but rather, this man:

Actually, this pic is from last year. He wore a hat this year too, though

This is Mr. Sigbjørn Johnsen, our Minister of Finance. An esteemed politician, long-term member of Parliament, several-time Minister, former County Governor of Hedmark, the list goes on. He is famous in Norway for having such a jovial dialect and charisma that even when he says scary stuff like "the world economy is going to crash" or "we don't have any more money", it sounds okay. Nice, even.

He's an important guy, and definitely worth the attention of the media on the day of the National Budget presentations. That is hardly what bothered me. What made me question the priorities of our media was what they focused on about this guy. His outfit.

Take another look at that picture. The man wears a hat, and a long coat. "Norway's Don Draper!" the headlines read. Uhm, right. Look, I like the guy, I really do. But Sigbjørn is no Don Draper.

Later the same day, another newspaper - in the economy section no less - reported that not only was Mr. Johnsen the king of hats, he also knew how to ensure variety in his ties!

By changing ties throughout the day, he managed to look serious for the speeches, but quirky and fun for the interviews. What he actually said in these speeches or interviews, didn't seem to matter all that much for the newspaper.

I considered writing angry letters to the papers in question, or at the very least post a semi-annoyed Facebook status about it, but then I realized something. While these papers were clearly reporting about something far less significant than the National Budget they should be concerned about, they were also doing something not-so-insignificant: they were commenting on a man's fashion choices.

Female politicians are constantly badgered for what they are wearing, and why. They have to suffer through "the fashion police" commenting on their outfits in glossy magazines. If they wear the same dress twice, you can be certain the media will notice, and report. While we might not like that either, we don't think much of it. Because they are women, we accept it. Now that it was a man, I reacted.

So, instead of being annoyed, I decided that it was about time the media started caring what men wear. I'll be the first to applaud when they also start asking the Prime Minister where he bought his suit, or why the Foreign Minister is wearing the same tie two events in a row.


Cold As Heaven said...

I'm always wearing black >;)

Regarding the national budget: Most of it is tied up by laws and regulations (such as funding of schools, hospitals, roads and so on). The politicians can only mess with a very small fraction of it. But it might make a difference, I agree.

Cold As Heaven

Bruce Coltin said...

I think the media should point out snazzy and lousy male dressers, though I often vote for guys in bad suits and boring ties.

Jan Morrison said...

You're right, Don Draper he ain't. What is with frivolity in the press these days? Really - good they're talking men's vanity but freakin' hell - the world is going to hell in a basket and the press is talking about the weave of it?
Maybe it is because they are never allowed to say what they really want to - so have given up.

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