Swedish Joke

The following is a joke recorded from a Swedish friend: “So, this joke is not that common, but the theme is common. Ok, so, uh, do you know why Norwegians open the milk cartons in the store? Because it reads ‘open here.’ The point here, is like saying Norwegian people are dumb. It illustrates the rivalry between Norway and Sweden. Now in modern times there is not a real rivalry, I’m sure they have the same type of jokes as Swedes. But it does go back historically, like the 14th and 15th centuries when we were competing for power. It shows this competitiveness and tradition of making fun of each other.”

I completely agree with her analysis. The joke is an illustration of nationalism and the superiority of one nation over another. This is not uncommon, as we see similar examples within the United States pertaining to Mexican immigrants and also in Germany where the targeted group are the Turks. Examining these jokes provides the social constructions and political climates either currently or, as in the case of the aforementioned between Sweden and Norway, historically.