>Sexing up the EU

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Raw sex is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the European Union, still when you think the cultural dimension of the acquis communautaire. But, reports EUobserver. (9 July), the Commission seems to have managed this implausible feat in a glossy 45 second commercial released on its EU Tube site. Splicing together sex scenes from various European arthouse movies, it finishes up by urging that cinema lovers across the EU27 should ‘come together’…. and support the EU’s efforts to promote European cinema. Apart from some surprise that most of the British media hadn’t picked up the story, my first thought was that the EU have clearly rather wasted the skills of some very bright creative/ auteur as, by dropping the reference to cinema, it would be ideal way of promoting the new EU Constitution (excuse me, Amending Treaty…) through the eurosceptic but sex-obsessed British tabloids.

Indeed, it wouldn’t be the first time that sex had been used the EU to voters unenthused with its particular brand of technocratic multi-level governance. A Slovak ad agency tasked with boosting turnout for Slovak’s 2003 EU accession referendum tried a similar tack in an effort to mobilize some of those more difficult to reach sections of the Slovak electorate: posters of young couples entwined in a passionate clinch with the slogan lepšie je byť dnu ako von (‘Better to be in than out’ – and naturally an EU symbol and some accession explainers, so no one misunderstood it as some kind of effort to halt demographic decline).

Sadly, on the day the Slovak embrace of the Union rather more lukewarm than that of the couple in the poster – perhaps because the result was something of a foregone conclusion and the country’s eurosceptics had given up in advance. Lowish numbers dutifully went to the polls to give the European Union a big, but perhaps less than ecstatic, ‘yes’. As the maverick exiled left-wing philosopher, Ivan Sviták, brutally observed one week into Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution ‘[p]eople are attracted by the lifestyle of prosperous societies, not the ideology of freedom; by being able to travel, not the moral defence of human rights; by the video shop with a shelf full of porn, not the values of humanism’. Eurocrats and politicians please take note.

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