04. lokakuuta 1996

Have Fun While You Can!

I just had to take the test: ”Ten personal questions about your alcohol use.” As part of their latest campaign, the Finnish Ministry of Health has contracted page long questionnaires in major Finnish newspapers and magazines whereby people can evaluate their alcohol consumption. I recorded my last week. Yesterday, nothing (0). Monday I had a bottle of beer while I watched The Crying Game (1), Sunday nothing (0), Saturday was the faculty party: a pint, a little bottle of wine, etc. (6), Friday I had a date and drank a half a bottle of wine and a couple of pints (6)… I scored 20. The Ministry encourages testers with a score of 8 or more points to examine their alcohol use with a critical eye. Horrible! Am I a 25 year old drunkard? I hadn’t even considered it before!
     I march off to the Substance Abuse Prevention Unit of the Helsinki City Social Office disconcerted. To my relief, the Unit’s representative Heikki Ollikainen assures me that there is nothing wrong. ”If every university student that drank a lot became an alcoholic, Finland would be full of alcoholic Master’s holders,” Ollikainen quips. Statistically, young people under 30 drink most. Ollikainen understands why – no steady work or family. ”The academic years are a transitional stage. It is typical to use a lot of alcohol. Students have always used alcohol freely.” He even encourages university students to take advantage of this time, ”Have fun while you can!” At the same time, it is wise to follow your habits closely. It is easy to develop a drinking problem.

Kathy Acker in Helsinki

American writer Kathy Acker has been called post-feminist and post-punk. In her texts, she combines biographical elements, power, sex and violence in a intoxicating cocktail. Acker visited Helsinki last week as her first book The Empire of the Senseless became available in Finnish (Tunnottomien valtakunta). Two years ago Acker taught literature in a small town in Idaho. From time to time, Acker once happened to use the word `lesbo’ in her lecture, causing the head of the department to suffer a nervous breakdown. A battle ensued between Acker opponents and defenders in Idaho, gradually reaching the national papers. ”It was a terrifying experience. Hunting season had just opened in Idaho (it is a big deal there) and I got all kinds of sick threats. I was forced to spend my last night under police protection,” explains Acker. Now Acker has re-located to London, bringing her two `lovers’: her 400 and 1100 cc motorcycles with her. Acker, who is most inspired by writers William S. Burroughs and Jack Keroauc, also likes piercing and tattoos. ”Everything I do reflects back to me clearly. It helps me develop as a writer.”

Post-Faculty Exam is the Ultimate Party

Everybody knows that the best university student party is the monthly post-faculty exam bash arranged by the Faculty of Social Science students in the New Student House. No wonder then that people were waiting in line for this fall’s first `tdk-bile `. Over 1,100 people came, surprising the party’s arrangers: 120 crates of beer and cider (2,880 bottles) weren’t enough to quench everyone’s thirst.

Television Is Full Of Men

Three students of the Communications Department have settled down to watch Wednesday evening TV. Their objective is to examine the nature and number of male and female images a typical evening of television offers. The night begins with the familiar theme song from The Bold and the Beautiful. Annikka feels that all the soap opera’s women concentrate on keeping, protecting or luring for men, ”The men aren’t distinguishable as persons. They are either boys, husbands, directors or doctors.” These findings coincide with a recent study completed by Nikunen, Ruoho and Valaskivi entitled Nainen viihteenä, mies viihdyttäjänä – viihtyykö katsoja? (Woman as entertainment, Men as entertainers – Is the viewer entertained?). ”Women are largely just for looking at and men are the cultural norm,” explains Iiris Ruoho. ”Men act as representatives of their profession, not their gender.”
     Next on the trio’s list of entertainment is a French series. Tero feels that women in the European series are more natural. All three agree that European TV is of a higher quality. Next comes a cooking show Bon Appétit. The male chef provokes Tiina to comment, ”It is unusual for a man to be so intimate on TV. They are usually the straight-laced experts.” Next comes the news. Each feels that news is one place where gender shouldn’t play any role. Regardless, at the end of the broadcast, only two women have appeared, compared with 21 men! Annikka says, ”I wouldn’t even have noticed had I not taken count.” Melrose Place crowns the night with more stereotypical gender behavior. All in all, Wednesday night’s television offered 27 women characters and 53 men.

New Idealistic Student Interest Groups

Kännykänkorjaajat (Mobile Phone Fixers) was founded by political science students Jouni Kuukkanen and Ville and Luukkanen in Turku. Kuukkunen and Luukkanen feel that there is no politics left in modern politicians’ behavior. No vision, every budget is being cut back. They would like to hear what alternatives are available from today’s leaders – what kind of world they picture for their constituents. They aren’t satisfied with the Finnish citizens either. It is not enough to vote. If Finns would participate in discussions and pass on the word, demanding changes and questioning everything, Finland would be a better place.
    Luukkunen says, ”It’s no coincidence that Finland has half a million people unemployed. The political elite, a few people, have brought it about. If we had a working democracy, we wouldn’t be in this situation.”
     Similar motives inspired a group of young people in Helsinki to form an alternative environmental group a year ago. No more rhetoric – we want action. Pressing food, population and pollution problems need to be seen in the big picture. Dodo ry. was founded in order to collect, create and distribute comprehensive information about the world’s destruction and its possibility to be saved. Dodo now has over 100 members. Dodo’s lecture series, entitled Syysunelmia (Fall Dreams), is scheduled for the first three Thursdays of November in the Porthania lecture hall II from 6-8 p.m.

The Comic Becomes a Centenarian

The comic turns 100 years old this year and next week’s Comics Festival will bring in the celebration. The Finnish Comic Book Club is sponsoring several foreign visitors, presenting the work of over 70 domestic comic artists and is itself celebrating its 25th year of existence. Three major events highlight the festival. First, a showing of new French comic artistry in Galleria Jangva, with several artists themselves appearing to discuss their work. Ruututehtaan sankarit (Heroes of the Comic Box Factory) will display the comic artistry of 70 Finnish comic artists at the Cable Factory beginning the 8th of October. For real comic book fans, the peak of the festival will be the Comic Book Fair, scheduled for October 12 and 13 at the Old Student House.