Complaints Choirs:
Singing Your Grievances
Here is the only survey of global consumption in which, at the end of a page-long consideration of the Finnish obsession with tango music, you will learn of "the fusion of hybrid styles [in] post-punk Suomi-reggae, with the inimitable hit: 'Hän haluaa huussin,' ("He Wants a Dry Toilet"). I was glad of discovering that Swedish advertisements of the late 1920s "praised the banana as the ideal quiet snack during radio hours."
And when Trentmann discusses the way in which "the greatest complainers live in those countries that have the strongest tradition of Ombudsmen, complaint procedures and trust in the rule of law," he also drops in that in Helsinki (those Finns again!) in 2005 a group of consumers pioneered a complaints chorus ("Valituskuoro"), in which people literally sang their grievances --- in this case that "we always lose to Sweden in hockey and Eurovision." Complaints choirs have since sprung up in St. Petersburg, Melbourne, Singapore and two dozen other cities. In Hamburg they moan about overly complicated tax forms; in Budapest they boast that nobody complains like a Hungarian.
--- From a review of
Empire of Things
Frank Trentmann
(Allen Lane)
Reviewed by Sam Leith
TLS 1 April 2016
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