Thursday, July 01, 2004

Veikko Ennala

Veikko Ennala (1922-1991) was the poet laureate of Finnish gutter journalism. He gained his reputation writing from 1966 onwards to the Hymy ("The Smile") magazine of the publisher mogul Urpo Lahtinen. Hymy epitomized sensation journalism in Finland, and Veikko Ennala was the magazine's brightest star.

Verbally highly talented, Ennala grasped in his feature stories, interviews and columns such subjects and topics that had been hitherto taboos in the conservative, chaste climate of postwar Finland, but which were now becoming quickly unveiled in the social and political tumult and ongoing sexual revolution of the 1960s. The time was just ripe for this sort of unflinching approach, and the sales of Hymy soared with Veikko Ennala's quasi-sociological but clearly sensationalist, pseudo-sexological but shamelessly voyeurist accounts of the seedy side of Finnish life.

There is a derogative Finnish term sosiaaliporno ("social porn") describing this sort of sensational journalism disguised as being of "human interest" but in fact turning one into a Peeping Tom secretly feasting on the horrid living conditions of the people dwelling "on the wrong side of the tracks": social and economic unjustice, exploitation of the weak, alcoholism, addictions, mental disturbances, sexual perversions and the general tragedy of life becoming just a freak show run by the yellow press for the rubberneckers and the morbidly curious.

I'm now working on a little site on Veikko Ennala, who enjoys a posthumous cult reputation here in Finland. Perhaps he represents for a young generation a time long lost, both wilder and more innocent than these days.