“I want control of Sweden’s Twitter account ” said TV host Stephen Colbert after having been “enthralled” by Sweden’s Curators of Sweden campaign which puts the country’s official Twitter account in the hands of ordinary citizens.
Footage of Colbert’s plea, aired on The Colbert Report programme, has already swept across the internet.
In the three minute clip, featured below, Colbert asks fans to send emails to “Sweden’s ministry of Twitter” to pressure them into allowing him to “take the controls”.
With his 3.5 million followers, Colbert claims that “mathematically, I am 100 times more prepared for this than the entire culture of Sweden”.
However, the group behind the “Curators of Sweden” initiative, the Swedish Institute (SI), has told Colbert to be patient.
“People who are not Swedish citizens cannot take over the account, not yet anyway,” SI media relations manager Sergio Guimaraes told The Local.
“But we would never discard the possibility.”
After the curator raised eyebrows worldwide with her online musings about Jews, Colbert couldn’t resist the chance to offer his own services.
“Sonja Abrahamsson brought some attention to Sweden with her charming question: What’s the fuzz with Jews?” Colbert said, then added:
“I solemnly swear that I, Stephen Colbert, know what the ‘fuzz’ is with Jews.”
“Let’s make ‘operation artificial Swedener’ a success!”
The current rules on the official website stipulate that @sweden “currently only accepts applicants who are Swedish citizens, but admit that “this might change in the future”.
When asked how many emails it would take before the institute changed their rules, Guimaraes remained staunch.
“It’s not a question of pressure. We have a very long list already, the queue is huge. We’ll sit down and truly consider the goals of the account before we change anything,” he told The Local.
“This is not a project; we’ve been running it since December. It’s supposed to continue – it’s an initiative.”
When probed about the extra ten thousand followers that have joined overnight since the current @Sweden curator’s tweets have gone viral, Guimaraes beamed.
“It’s terrific that there’s been such a positive response. But we have been happy with each of the 24 curators so far, and have enjoyed the 20,000 plus tweets they’ve posted.”
“The following has been growing fast, and we’re proud to have been engaging so many people since we launched it,” he added.
“But Colbert will have to wait, for now anyway,” Guimaraes told The Local.
The Controversial Tweets
The “curator” of the @Sweden Twitter account, 27-year-old Swedish Sonja Abrahamsson (or Sonja “Hitler” Abrahamsson as she calls herself on her blog), has incensed people after her musings about Jewish people and their religion.
EIn her Curators biography, Abrahamsson describes herself as “a single and low educated mother”, going on to boast that “at least I don’t do drugs and prostitution”.
“Whats the fuzz with jews. You can’t even see if a person is a jew, unless you see their penises, and even if you do, you can’t be sure!?” she tweeted at 3pm on Monday to her 32,000 followers.
Just minutes afterwards, she continued her thoughts on the Twittersphere.
“In nazi German they even had to sew stars on their sleeves. If they didn’t, they could never now who was a jew and who was not a jew.”
Later still, she referred to a colleague who is “part Jew, whatever that means” then added.
“Where I come from there is no jews. I guess its a religion. But why were the nazis talking about races? Was it a blood-thing (for them)?”
Soon after, and following what may have been a backlash from her followers, the 27-year-old claimed that she thought it was a good idea to ask when “so many well educated people all over the world can answer.”
“But no,” she continued. “Bad idea.”
As a final lament, she tweeted: “I just don’t get why some people hates jews so much.”
When contacted by The Local, Lena Posner-Körösi, head of the Jewish community in Stockholm, had not yet seen the tweets herself, but was shocked to learn that someone would be allowed to say such things in the name of Sweden.
“If this person is supposed to be an ambassador for Sweden, this is not the way to do it. They really should do a quality check on these people beforehand,” she said.
The Jewish leader added that she found the whole episode “very strange”.
Meanwhile, the response to the tweets has been astronomical, with hundreds coming through from Twitter users worldwide.
Enter Stephen Colbert
After his first video, which took issue with former curator Sonja and her infamous “Jew tweets”, US comedian Colbert claims to be unhappy with Sweden’s response of “be patient”.
On an episode of The Colbert Report, the TV host made a second plea, in which he bragged of being solely responsible for doubling the number of followers of the @sweden Twitter account from 33,000 to 62,000.
“Sweden – I do not do patience,” he said in response to the Swedish Institute (SI).
“And the people of Sweden are clearly behind me.”
He pointed out that both his hashtag “#artificialswedener” and “#StephenColbert” were both trending in Sweden, replacing the Swedish trending topic of “Norwegians are a Degenerate Race of Herring Molesters”.
Previously, Sergio Guimaraes, SI’s media relations manager, told The Local that Colbert would have to hold on if he wanted the reigns of the account.
“People who are not Swedish citizens cannot take over the account, not yet anyway. We have a very long list already… Colbert will have to wait,” he told The Local last week.
On The Colbert Report, the comedian quoted these exact words with an “appropriated image” of Guimaraes – a screaming Viking complete with a horned helmet, and exclaimed that it was high-time that Sweden gave him the account.
For the time being, however, Sweden is holding out.
“We are very flattered with the attention, and very amused,” Guimaraes told The Local in response to the new video.
“I personally thought it was a lot of fun – though it wasn’t me of course in the video – but I take it all with a pinch of salt. There is a lot of responsibility to be referred to as the spokesperson for a whole country.”
In the first video, Colbert claims that due to his 3.5 million Twitter followers, he is “mathematically… 100 times more prepared for this than the entire culture of Sweden”.
These sentiments appear to have resonated for Guimaraes when he shared details of the flood of fan response the institute has received.
“We’ve had a lot of emails, some 2,500 so far. According to my mathematics, that is some 0.07 percent of Colbert’s Twitter fans.”
“We are impressed, but remind Colbert that in the last national elections, 86 percent of Swedes voted. But our expectations are high, in any case, and we look forward to seeing if there is further interest.”
But as for the potential rule changes, Guimaraes remained resolute.
“We haven’t changed our stance. The rules still stand, though we’d never say never.”
Meanwhile, the former curator Sonja who featured heavily in Colbert’s video, is excited about the possibility of the comedian curating.
“I don’t know Colbert so well, but he seems like a fun guy some times,” she told The Local.
“If he became @sweden, I wish he could actually come visit Sweden during that week. I could be his Swedish contact-person and helper!”
Officials in charge of Sweden’s @Sweden Twitter account said on Thursday they are seriously considering handing the account over to US comedian Stephen Colbert, and plan to issue a decision on the matter as early as next week.
The news comes following Colbert’s highly publicized #ArtificialSwedener campaign aimed at having him take over the Sweden’s official Twitter account.
After two weeks of giving vague responses to Colbert’s repeated requests, theSwedish Institute and Visit Sweden have both said they are discussing the prospect of Colbert becoming a curator of the Sweden Twitter account and plan to issue a verdict next week as to whether the TV host will get the account.
“We’re discussing it now, and we’re aiming at coming to a decision next week,” Sergio Guimaraes from the Swedish Institute told The Local on Thursday.
The Twitter account, in which a different Swede gets a chance to “take over” each week, won the Grand Prix award at the Cannes Lions International festival of Creativity for the best international viral marketing campaign on Wednesday.
Since its inception in December, the initiative has gone from strength to strength.
When last week’s curator “Sonja” caught international attention with her off the wall tweets about the Jewish community, her breasts, and her unusual food descriptions – the US TV host Stephen Colbert made his own plea for the honour.
Twice now, he has asked fans of his show, The Colbert Report, to email Sweden and to demand that he takes the reigns of the account.
Guimaraes previously told The Local that Colbert will have to “be patient”, but on Thursday he and his counterpart at Visit Sweden confirmed that team behind the account is taking the idea seriously.
“Of course, we’re very flattered that Colbert is interested, though we are concerned that he may not be able to give an authentic view of the country,” Johannes Karlsson, the head of PR and Social Media at Visit Sweden, told The Local.
“But we are now in discussions about the possibility,” he added, with Guimaraes confirming that a decision was imminent.
Meanwhile, former @Sweden curator Sonja Abrahamsson has taken issue with Colbert’s flippant attitude towards her tweets, Sweden, and his iPhone – and posted her own response video.
“Come to Sweden and suck our Swedish meatballs,” she says in the video.
“But forget about your Swedish Twitter account obsession.”
By: Oliver Gee/The Local