Last night, at one of those insufferable evening events, I saw and listened to a performer who billed himself as “Almost Elton John.” Digesting what had been an excellent piece of salmon substituting for the rubber chicken dished at last year’s event, I began to ponder just how strange it must be to go through life making a living impersonating Elton John.

While we all employ a persona—from the Greek meaning “mask” and referring to masks actors wore a long, long time ago to be clear to the audience what role they were portraying—again “How strange it must be to go through life making a living impersonating Elton John,” rang through my mind like the vocal repetitions by the Almost Elton John’s beating out “Benny, Benny,” and “La la la la lah.” As I looked up at the screens displaying his performance and saw his platform shoes and piano keyboard painted along his leg, I just found the whole concept of walking in someone else’s shoes and singing someone else’s tune bizarre.


The persona of a Swede
Bizarre, yet how familiar! What is it like, for example, to be a Swede, to assume the persona of a Swede? What if someone came up with an act called “Swede” (I resist here the term “Super Swede”) and made a living entertaining tired citizens digesting a dinner after work and thinking about going to work the next morning, or if this Swede actually hopped up on stage and performed like an actor or standup comedian embodying “Swede” for people who were all infused with anticipatory energy coming to see this act?

Would the audience want to see a Swedish policewoman wear a veil? Would the audience want to see the “new” Malmo? Or would they want to see Astrid Lindgren’s Bullerbyn mentioned in the pages of Nordstjernan some time back?

If I were an investor, a producer, or in any way involved with the production of “Swede” or “Superswede” touring the country or globe, I would be sure to include in the act at least a tuft of blond hair, a predilection for open-faced sandwiches and milk products, even make the stool and furniture resemble something with clean lines and allow IKEA to be a sponsor. Of course I would insist on the Swede being fueled by genuine Marabou chocolate on his tour. And Felix lingonberries for quick energy and endurance if the act includes demonstrating fitness habits of the Swede.

Say Sweden and you expect... Sweden
The point I am making, doing so delicately I hope, or with transparency, is that when most people say Sweden and expect Sweden, Swedes or Swedish, they want to see that rarified species that now runs the danger of becoming extinct. The world community at large goes to great lengths to establish animal preserves and breeding programs so we can see Pandas, lions, all sorts of animals on a list, imperatively survive and thrive.

I hope I will not be labeled a racist when I compare Swedes to animals and preservation programs, as such preservation programs appear with regularity across the world with Aborigines, historically black colleges and universities, Native Americans, and a long list of parties that insist their “pure” culture must be preserved and any outside interferences are intolerant or even racist.

Which brings me back to the stage act or persona of “Swede” or “Super Swede.” Should such be allowed or accepted—is that what people want? Does it hurt anyone if that version of Swede exists? Would financial backers line up to support such an act? Would the people who might be opposed be willing to finance their alternative Swede act with expectations of profits?

Is an act of anything beyond the stereotypical Swede financially, emotionally or culturally viable? Send your email or check to . . . .

By Ulf Kirchdorfer

Born in Sweden and raised both in Europe and the U.S., Ulf Kirchdorfer is as Swedish American as we come. Ulf, who has a Ph.D. in English and is dean of global studies at Darton College, keeps all of us - Swedes, Americans and Swedish Americans alike - on track. You reach Super Swede at SuperSwede (Clicking this link will open up your email program in a separate window)

The Swede observes the world around him and comments quietly when he’s ready, if ever. Super Swede will fly at night, hovering over the city like its conscience. Or he can be seen during the day, swatting at even—especially—the small things that need to be examined and questioned. Dressed in yellow and donning a blue cape, with a big blue “S” on his chest, he is “Swede,” or “Super Swede,” as onlookers have been known to whisper. His blue gloves glow in the dark like righteousness, the kind that is tolerable and needed, but less and less allowed in this politically correct and morally bankrupt world.