Eurovision 2016

Did Swedish Eurovision host’s mental health joke go too far?

Did Swedish Eurovision host's mental health joke go too far?
Swedish comedian Petra Mede. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT
A joke about mental health made by one of the Swedish hosts of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest has resulted in criticism from viewers and mental health campaigners.

Sweden received a great deal of praise for its tongue in cheek take on the pop pageant, but one gag managed to ruffle feathers. In a mid-show sketch, co-host Petra Mede went through a roll call of fictional Eurovision memorabilia, before arriving at man wearing a Eurovision-branded straitjacket.

“If you’re a really crazy fan, I strongly recommend the Eurovision straitjacket,” Mede joked, before adding “you know what they say, crazy is the new black”.

The gag has been met with condemnation on social media platform Twitter, with some asking the Eurovision organizers to apologize. 

However, other users suggested that there had been an overreaction to the sketch. 

Mental health charities have hit out at the quip, with anti-stigma campaign Time to Change accusing Eurovision of reinforcing negative stereotypes.

“It’s disappointing that mental health problems, which affect one in four of us in serious and sometimes devastating ways, are being used as part of a Eurovision gimmick,” wrote Kate Nightingale, the charity's head of communications, in a statement.

“Trivializing mental health problems and reinforcing outdated stereotypes of people in straitjackets has harmful consequences, making it harder for people to reach out for help and support,” she added.

“The Eurovision Song Contest is watched by many and it would be great to see it used as a platform for raising mental health awareness, not fuelling stigma.”

The Local contacted SVT, the Swedish broadcaster that produced the sketch, but they declined to comment, referring instead to Mede's personal representation.

The co-host's Eurovision press officer has yet to respond.