The corporate karma carnival
Offline and online games, branding and humanitarianism at the Roskilde Festival
in Global humanitarianism and media culture

This chapter asks whether it is possible to harness the powers of ‘the popular’ and media culture in the service of humanitarianism. There is a need to critically balance an analysis of the potentially progressive and/or problematic aspects of a popularised humanitarian event. Exploring the energies that are at play in the popular ‘carnival’ of the Danish Roskilde Festival, this chapter examines how the carnivalesque can function both as a form of corporate branding and as a means to destabilise the status quo identified with a negatively branded segment of the population. The chapter also analyses the expansion of the festival into cyberspace, and the offline–online interconnectivity of the festvial’s humanitarian events

In humanitarianism the popularising of causes, and the use of celebrities and media culture to do so, is a rising phenomenon. Academic writing on humanitarianism, however, tends to criticise the popular, especially when it is mediated through celebrities.1 Such critiques often intersect with disapproval of the growing collaboration or crossbranding between humanitarian causes and commercial interests, e.g. via corporate social responsibility (CSR), cause-branded products or philanthropy.2 Critiques of the popular characteristically draw on various theoretical and analytical approaches, such as critical discourse analysis, Žižekian ideological critique and/or grounded critical analytics.3 These analyses often echo critical approaches to popular culture in media studies that, following Horkheimer and Adorno, view it as an extension of the commercialisation of culture and thus as an expression of capitalist interests rather than popular sentiment.4 Conversely, many contemporary media scholars see popular culture as an expression of a playful anarchic potential that elites have often feared and attempted to regulate.5 The divide in debates concerning the popularising of humanitarianism is thus to some degree focused on the question of the critical potential of ‘the popular’ in the media. Is it possible to harness the powers of ‘the popular’ and media culture in service of humanitarianism, or will ‘the popular’ inevitably serve neo-colonial and commercial interests?6

In this chapter, we explore the possibilities of an alternative analytical approach to these topics, based on the Russian literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin’s carnivalesque analytics.7 We wish to see the increasing use of ‘popular’ forms in relation to humanitarian causes from a different perspective, which may reveal insights into the ‘popular’ beyond the primarily critical traditions. This is because, as we argue, the carnivalesque has something of a double identity as being both affirmative of the status quo, and, at the same time, an embodied critique of the status quo. In our case, we examine how the carnivalesque can function both as a form of corporate branding and as a means to destabilise the status quo identified with a negatively branded segment of the population. This means that there is a constant need to critically balance an analysis of the potentially progressive and/or problematic aspects of a popularised humanitarian event, rather than to simply criticise or praise. In order to make this point we will explore the energies that are at play in the popular ‘carnival’ of the Danish non-profit music and culture festival, the Roskilde Festival.

A second key aim of this chapter is to expand our understanding of the time-space/place relation of the festival, or carnival, encapsulated in the notion of the festival as a chronotope, by drawing attention to the contemporary practices of adding online activities to the offline events of the festival.8 The many humanitarian, social and environmental happenings and routines generated by the festival are often communicated online. Facebook pages, blogs, Instagram, Twitter and hashtags all accompany the initiatives and events. The place of Roskilde Festival is thus expanded into cyberspace. The difference between the experience of lived community at Roskilde Festival, and the way that this is tied to the virtual reality of the internet, might help enhance the Roskilde Festival experience, and deepen the audience’s understanding of the humanitarian issues at play. It is, however, a mediated reality that easily turns into a public relations vehicle for the humanitarian organisations, as well as corporate sponsors, that goes well beyond the physical Roskilde Festival experience. The case study that we have chosen for this chapter illuminates these different trends by exploring the links between a corporate brand, festive humanitarian engagements with Roskilde Festival, and the offline–online interconnectivity of the humanitarian events.

Roskilde Festival is the largest North European culture and music festival and is held each summer in the outskirts of the city of Roskilde, which is ca. 30km from the capital city of Denmark, Copenhagen. The festival prides itself on its non-profit status and its commitment to sustainability and global solidarity. In this chapter we focus on Hummel, one of the festival’s many corporate sponsors and a Denmark-based international sports clothing company. In collaboration with local NGOs, Hummel participates in Roskilde Festival with brand-related happenings and has named its events ‘Orange Karma’ after its CSR philosophy ‘Company Karma’.9 Orange is the signature colour of the festival chosen because of the orange colour of the biggest concert stage at the festival, which is used as the logo for the festival. We are here examining the Orange Karma events in 2013 and 2015.

Case study: Orange Karma

While ensuring a good concert programme is of course crucial, an important component of Roskilde Festival is instilling a sense of community and there is an element of utopian vision in the history and mandate with which the festival is associated. This is often referred to as the ‘Orange Feeling’ and has been described as embracing solidarity, charity, tolerance, artistic freedom, creativity and community.10 The Orange Feeling infuses all aspects of the festival experience, as exemplifed by the following excerpt from Lene’s field notes:

While Mette has gone to fetch flyers, I sit down to write some notes. A couple of young guys in their late teens pass by me. One of them gently dunks the top of my head, calling out ‘hey you’ – I reply: ‘hey there’ – they both say ‘bye bye’ and walk on. I think to myself that this is a typical Roskilde Festival encounter. One would not behave like this anywhere else; approaching a total stranger, who is decidedly outside of your own age group, in this playful casual manner for no apparent reason. Here on this lazy afternoon in the sun, it seems perfectly natural.11

Many NGOs as well as businesses draw on the Orange Feeling, and the potential of reaching some of the more than 100,000 festival participants through various events, shops, happenings and promotions at the festival.12 Orange Karma, one of numerous platforms through which Roskilde Festival supports the promotion of environmental and social causes, is organised as a collaboration between Roskilde Festival and Hummel. For Hummel, Roskilde Festival provides a high-profile opportunity to raise the profile of its CSR philosophy, while also, of course, increasing brand recognition. The CSR philosophy behind Hummel’s campaign is a carefully crafted branding strategy, which is personified by the owner and CEO of the company, Christian Stadil. In collaboration with one of the country’s leading researchers in organisational change and business management, Steen Hildebrandt, Stadil shaped this philosophy inspired by his own interest in Buddhism.13 Stadil’s public persona embodies Company Karma, and combines the urban cool of a fashion icon with a self-styling that is reminiscent of a Buddhist monk or even Mahatma Gandhi.14 As part of its CSR strategy, which includes a number of charities, Hummel has sponsored several sports events that are linked with good causes.

The 2013 Hummel sports event examined in this chapter is a football (soccer) tournament, organised in collaboration with an organisation called ‘Eir Soccer’ – the significance of the name will be explained shortly. The tournament consisted of two competitions taking place simultaneously in adjacent football fields. In one of the twinned tournaments female festivalgoers competed, while in the other tournament female asylum-seekers competed. The other Hummel sports event examined in this chapter is the 2015 ‘Street City Games’ (such as street basketball, volleyball and football), organised in collaboration with a NGO named ‘GAME Denmark’, or ‘GAME’ for short. It involved male and female festival participants and included two high-profile events: a street basketball game pitting celebrities against the Hummel-sponsored basketball team, ‘Stevnsgade’, and a beach football game involving (male) members of the local Roskilde police force playing against (male) members of the hippie anti-establishment community ‘Christiania’ located in Copenhagen. As we will return to below, Eir Soccer and GAME promote humanitarianism in different ways.

The case study is based on participant observation and the analysis of press and online representations of the Orange Karma events as well as related online materials. Online material and coverage include Facebook announcements of events, Instagram campaigns, a webpage with video reportages of the events, short videos presenting individual players from participating sports teams, and videos portraying the festive spirit of a football tournament.

The popular as carnivalesque

Bakhtin’s ideas have been adopted by different disciplines beyond literary studies: his works have inspired, amongst others, sociologists, cultural theorists and linguists.15 In this study we apply Bakhtin’s concepts to the study of humanitarian events and communication in relation to the Roskilde Festival. We have elsewhere depicted how Roskilde Festival in many respects exemplifies Bakhtin’s theory of the carnivalesque, ‘where festive forms of the carnival include parodies, dressing up in costumes, eating and drinking in abundance, satirical rendering of authority figures and an emphasis on carnal pleasures such as sexual experiences and eating’.16 The energies that are at play in carnivalesque popular forms are intimately connected to bodily experiences and performances.

Figure 12.1Collection of urine from the festival which Danish farmers will ‘turn into beer’

Two elements of the carnivalesque are worth highlighting here. First, the satire and laughter of the carnival is associated with the ‘lower regions’ of the body. There is an important duality to this; the lower regions of the enclosing body are seen as the place of birth and rebirth, and hence as the enclosing womb as well as the enclosing bodily tomb of death. They are also viewed as the place of excrement often used to mock authority figures. When used as fertiliser, however, excrement contributes to nature’s rebirth. Such a duality was exemplified at Roskilde Festival 2015, by the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, which ran a campaign to recycle urine, via large mobile urinals, under the slogan ‘Don’t waste your piss. Danish farmers can turn it into beer again’ (see figure 12.1). Second, for Bakhtin the carnival constitutes a turning ‘upside down’ of society. Authority figures are ‘fair game’ for satire and normal moral codes are suspended for the duration of the carnival:

We must consider again in more detail the ambivalent nature of carnival images. All the images of carnival are dualistic; they unite within themselves both poles of change and crisis: birth and death (the image of pregnant death), blessing and curse (benedictory carnival curses which call simultaneously for death and rebirth), praise and abuse, youth and old age, top and bottom, face and backside, stupidity and wisdom.17

Combined, these dualistic elements suggest for Bakhtin that the degradation of the exalted figures of society in carnival satire has an internal ambivalence, because this degradation also points towards a rebirth of society (literally and figuratively) passing through the lower regions of the body in order to be reborn. This means that the carnival is simultaneously satirically denigrating and (re)affirming, and thereby can work to either revitalise existent social power structures, or to motivate their transformation.18

In our context, this duality and/or ambivalence in the carnivalesque analytics poses similar challenges. It means engaging the deeply problematic power relations behind global inequality and corporate greed that produce, for instance, the social reality of the asylum-seekers whom we encountered in the Orange Karma event. With this analytics there is a risk of over-interpreting the significance of embodied experiences and performances, and the regenerative powers of the carnivalesque, while underestimating the reinforcement of social power relations, which from a Bakhtinian point of view is also part of the carnival.

In order to understand the relation between the festival and the social context and power relations associated with it, we propose to analyse the festival in terms of Bakhtin’s concept of the ‘chronotope’. The notion of the chronotope has been applied in order to understand the ways in which specific meanings, significance and consequences are attached to particular space/place-temporalities.19 Bakhtin develops the concept to describe the specific time-space/place relations that govern literary genres via the attributes, norms, traditions and ‘world sense’ that characterise a particular genre.20 The chronotope thus governs the norms, traditions, socialites and aesthetic forms linked to a particular delimited time-space/place.

The delimited nature of the chronotope does not indicate that it is a contained unit. The chronotope is, as per Bakhtin’s overall focus on ‘dialogism’, intertextual in the sense that in the carnivalesque it involves a dialectic dialogue between the popular instituting of the event, which is a sociological fact, and the immaterial forces that are associated with the carnivalistic forms.21 For Bakhtin carnivalistic folklore is a particular world sense that ‘possesses a mighty life-creating and transforming power, an indestructible vitality’.22 Connected to this dialectic is another dialectic between space and place. Chronotope is often translated as time-space or the spatio-temporal. The Greek word ‘topos’, nevertheless, literally means place, not space.

Space and place, and the relationship between them, are highly debated topics within disciplines such as geography.23 Some (positivist) geographers, according to Tuan, see place as merely a location and thus as ‘subsumed under the geographer’s concept and analysis of space’.24 From this perspective, which tends to be associated with economic geographers, space is a web of (commercial) nodes/locations that they term ‘places’. Place is then a location within a spatial structure. For the humanistic geographer, however, place is more than mere location. It ‘incarnates the experiences and aspirations of a people’.25 The place of the carnival, from this perspective, can incarnate the experiences and aspirations of people in relation to a sense of community. But as we will show in our analysis of the Roskilde Festival, the place of the carnival also risks being incorporated into the media cultural branding of a global corporation through a cyber-spatial network.

The place of a carnivalesque event is important. Roskilde Festival, for example, takes (and thereby makes) place in the same spot every year, and participants in the festival get a special feeling and behave in a different way than they would outside this place. The place is thus crucial to understanding the festival chronotope, and the humanitarian events’ use of, and contribution to, this place are important to this understanding. With the increasing use of online communication in relation to the Roskilde Festival, however, the festival progressively expands into cyberspace. Cyberspace differs from place in that it is not experienced directly with all the senses, and thus the whole body. Furthermore, as we will show, cyberspace, and the media culture with which it is often linked, is a mediated reality that can be carefully manicured and controlled by specific interests, in this case humanitarian and corporate communication and branding. Additionally, cyberspace is not contained spatially and temporally in the same way as the material place of the Roskilde Festival. At a different time, for example, the grounds used for the festival are used for a county fair, but it is possible to continue experiencing Roskilde Festival in cyberspace long after leaving the place of Roskilde Festival. There is thus a continuing dialogic relationship between place and space that is manifested through the relationship between the ‘offline’ place of Roskilde Festival as an event, and the ‘online’ cyberspace of the internet.

Social soccer and basketball benefit events

The organisation involved in arranging the Orange Karma events with Hummel in 2013 used to be called ‘Sensational Football’ but is presently named ‘Eir Soccer’ after ‘a goddess and valkyrie associated with medical skill and a healing goddess’.26 As the Eir Soccer website explains, the organisation employs ‘soccer and the ball as a means of creating a better world’ and in order to stand ‘up against the severe injuries as well as gender stereotype in soccer – and support women to live a full life with soccer’.27 The carnivalesque festiveness of its activities is featured prominently on the organisation’s website, where a photo of happy female football players in costume adorns the front page.28 When scrolling further down the front page, one of Eir Soccer’s other activities is described: the Asylum United initiative, which includes establishing football teams for young women in Danish centres for asylum-seekers run by the Danish Red Cross.29

Figure 12.2Sensational Football tournament at the Roskilde Festival

The main feature in Hummel’s Orange Karma area in 2013 at Roskilde Festival was a twin football tournament that took place simultaneously. One tournament comprised teams of asylum-seekers, named after the different asylum centres, wearing matching Hummel gear (see figure 12.3). The other overlapping tournament was made up of ordinary female festival participants who signed up in teams that were more or less created for the event. Some had chosen a silly and festive theme and name for their team, such as ‘Puzzy Riders’ or ‘Girl Power and Fishermen’, whereas others had more commercial themes, such as team KitKat – a global candy bar brand – or team Cocio – a Danish chocolate beverage.30 The teams wore outfits matching the themes (see figure 12.4). The festive front-page picture of Eir Soccer’s website appears to be from a similar tournament of festive teams.

Figure 12.3Participants in the Sensational Football tournament

Figure 12.4Spectators and participants in the Sensational Football tournament

Mette’s field notes from the 2013 festival describe how the football tournament came to our attention, and how it appeared to accidental onlookers, such as Mette who initially was looking for another humanitarian event:

In the distance I notice a crowd watching something and decide that this must be it. As I get closer I realize the crowd is watching women playing football – The Orange Karma Sensational tournament … [The area] turns out to be filled with various Orange Karma events, communicated as: a wide range of activities during the festival that enable the festival guests to party and have fun while supporting Sensational Football’s projects in Danish Asylum Centres at the same time.

[The next day I return to have a better look.] The central part of the area consists of two fields and on each side of each field a big crowd is enthusiastically cheering the players. Girls dressed in bizarre outfits, such as full suit tiger outfits, are waiting eagerly for their turn to play … Each game is only six minutes, so by the time I figure out what the team is called, a new one enters. Someone in the crowd yells: ‘We are all rooting for whoever wins!’

… I notice that the audience is very diverse. One couple is sitting next to me, silently watching the game, smiling. Several groups of rowdy guys are cheering loudly and happily. Even the bottle and can collectors who come to the festival to make money occasionally take a break to watch the game. Behind me are three girls with fake noses hanging around their necks. It must be part of their team outfit … At one point I hear one of them saying ‘The tournament is a really great place to advertise – I can see that Cocio has put together a team!’ Her friend agrees and responds: ‘I saw that there is a team called KitKat!’

… Two very different all-female teams now appear on the field: ‘Team Kongelunden’ and ‘Team Jelling’ – names of Danish asylum centres. They are different in the sense that they are wearing Hummel outfits and not fake noses or tiger tails. I hear some people from the crowd comment that they are probably very good at playing football. Six minutes later ‘Team Kongelunden’ has won the game and ‘Team King Henrik’s Harem’ and ‘Team Camp Tiger Kitten’ enter the field.31

In an attempt to better understand the event, Mette spent some time reading the different posters advertising and explaining the events, looking at the different Orange Karma booths that were placed in the area, and asking the booth managers about the event. She was finally enlightened when she walked over to an organised bonfire:

a sign reads ‘SUPPORT ASYLUM UNITED: marshmallows, banana, popcorn and snobrød over fire – 10 Danish crowns [approximately £1]’.32 I decide to ask the woman raking the fire if she can tell me a bit more about the event. She explains that it has taken place at Roskilde Festival for two years and keeps getting bigger. It is very popular which is probably why the festival continues to let them do it. Sensational football, she elaborates, has existed for ten years and used to have its tournament at a square in downtown Copenhagen where inner city kids can play street basket. Four years ago Sensational Football started Asylum United, and two years ago it came to Roskilde Festival … When I comment on the elaborate outfits, she explains that participants can win a prize for best outfit, as well as best karma and best sensation. She is not sure what the difference is between karma and sensation, but it is something about creating the best atmosphere when playing.

… Across from the bonfire is a nail bar. She tells me that it is run by girls from the asylum centres and that it was the girls’ idea to do it. I walk over, curious, and see many girls doing the nails and hair of men as well as women [see figure 12.5]. Everyone is smiling, chatting and hugs are distributed at regular intervals.33

Figure 12.5Orange Karma booth where festivalgoers and asylum-seekers can meet and talk during a nail or hair treatment

As indicated in the above quote, it is unusual for this kind of event to take place repeatedly at Roskilde Festival, and especially in such a prominent location. Usually Roskilde Festival makes a point of enabling different causes and organisations to gain exposure at the festival. Indeed, as it turned out, Eir Soccer was eventually only involved for one more year in the Orange Karma events. When we returned in 2015, the asylum teams and girls in costumes had been replaced by a different event. Street basketball, volleyball and football tournaments had been set up as part of the Orange Karma area, and the NGO GAME was now collaborating with Hummel in the organising of the events. GAME promotes health and civic participation by supporting and organising street sports and training programmes amongst, for example, marginalised urban youth and children with mental illnesses.34 The NGO has won several prizes, including one for its contribution to integration in Denmark, and has expanded its operations to Lebanon with plans to further expand to eight more countries before 2020.35

As part of the 2015 Orange Karma activities participants in the festival could sign up for tournaments and during each game it was possible to ‘exchange fighting spirit for karma’ since Hummel donated a ball to GAME for every goal that was scored.36 A total of 1,162 balls were eventually donated.37 Two of the most highly advertised and popular events, as mentioned, were a street basketball game between the successful Copenhagen-based basketball club Stevnsgade and a team of Danish celebrities, and a beach football game between the Roskilde police force and the hippie anti-establishment community of Christiania.

When we made observations during the GAME celebrity match in 2015, we were struck by the scant mention of both the GAME organisation and its mandate, as illustrated by this extract from Lene’s field notes:

When I arrive at the Orange Karma area shortly after 2pm no basketball match is taking place. We had anticipated that it would have already started, and I try to glean some information from the large screen, which is mounted above the basketball court. The screen flashes the GAME slogan ‘we love asphalt’ and runs promotion videos such as a promotion video for GAME, mostly consisting of shots of kids playing different street sports, and another promotion video for Orange Karma and GAME’s collaboration, which calls on the festivalgoers to ‘Change the world at 108 Decibel’ and to ‘join the GAME and support vulnerable children and young people’ [see figure 12.6]. This leaves me wondering which vulnerable children they are referring to, and where one can join the GAME – is it here, or somewhere else? Occasionally a program for the day appears on the screen – but the celebrity match is not on, which frustrates me because this is what I’m here for. I do not have a smartphone with me, so eventually I call Mette, who has Internet access and can confirm that it has been announced online as starting at 3pm.

… After the celebrity game, a commentator, speaking over the loudspeaker, initiates a game of hoops, which is open to everyone. I am pondering why there has been no mention of GAME by the commentator at all throughout the two hours that I have been observing the matches, since there is such a strong visual presence of GAME’s logo on the screen. I have been given a flyer, though, which promotes some GAME activities: a basketball event in Odense (Denmark’s third largest city) and one in Copenhagen. The flyer, however, does not provide any information about what GAME is. I leave the Orange Karma area feeling more confused than when I arrived.38

Figure 12.6Screen showing GAME/Orange Karma promotion materials during basketball game 2015

It turned out that GAME relied heavily on online promotion of the organisation. In fact, it was difficult, or nearly impossible, to attain any offline information from the organisation, even when we approached the Orange Karma information booth. Rather, Orange Karma and GAME logos adorned posters, banisters and a large screen, which was mounted above the basketball court and, as described above, showed promotional videos presenting mostly images of street sports, and very little text beyond slogans (see figure 12.7) and an announcement of the week’s program. While it was sometimes difficult to comprehend the full dimensions of the events while they were taking place without being online, the interplay between online and offline activities had the potential of creating a whole different experience. This leads us to analyse the two as interconnected, with the online presentations not only providing background information for the offline activities during the festival, but also figuring as an integral part of the offline experience. We therefore analyse the online representations in relation to the festival chronotope.

Figure 12.7Players warming up for the celebrity basketball game

Online representations and offline experiences

The Orange Karma events at the Roskilde Festival in 2013 and 2015 included both online and offline activities. Part of the 2013 Sensational Football/Eir Soccer online representations consisted of videos from the different years, where the tournament has taken place, which highlighted the festive spirit.39 Alongside these videos, the Hummel YouTube channel also presented documentaries on the young asylum-seekers participating in the tournament. These depict the daily struggle of being refugees in Denmark, how the young people came to live in the asylum centres and the various ways in which the football teams provide a free space where their daily troubles could be forgotten and a sense of community and belonging could be experienced.40

The videos celebrating the tournament spirit are underscored by pop music, they have bright colours and sunshine and they show partying and playful people dressed in silly costumes, mixing and playing with the asylum-seekers in football uniforms. The videos portraying the tournament as a free and happy space of community, togetherness and joy stand in stark contrast to the videos depicting the lives of the asylum-seekers. An example of this is a video reportage that features Midheta and Mihreta. In the first shot of the video, they (along with a third unnamed young woman) are shown in an empty, dark hallway, with their backs turned to the camera. They are standing on a small balcony, looking out into the light green outdoors. The narrative of this video reportage is relatively simple, the film is no more than two-and-a-half minutes long, but it clearly shows a situation in which their daily lives are ‘tedious’ and the opportunity to play football is the light at the end of the tunnel (symbolically rendered via the opening shot of the video). The video then goes on to present interviews with the two young women, interspersed with shots from a training session:

We were in Copenhagen – we slept there – and I think that it was fun, also that we were outside the centre for a bit, without our parents, and without our brother. We did not win; we were second place or so. We were just out from the centre, so we kind of forgot it a little bit. It [the centre] becomes a little boring, because we have been here so long.

[A song with English lyrics plays, while the young women are shown at a training match in a gym]: ‘Shaking, making. Something new. Already made by someone else. Trying to make a living, stop the spinning wheel of life.’ [The last shot from the gym shows small children, watching the game, smiling and waving at the camera.]41

The narrative describes the football training and matches, which take place outside the asylum centre, as the catalyst for the girls moving from a dark and boring existence at the centre, to a fun and community filled life of football. Getting away from the dark and boring life of the asylum centre is also at the heart of a corresponding video reportage, featuring Nancy.

Nancy, who is fifteen years old, says: ‘I think that it helps one to get away from some of the stuff. It’s like, being together with others rather than – like – sitting inside at home.’42 Nancy describes how a friend invited her to participate in the team, and how playing can also be a little hard, but that she is now in love with football. She is shown in her home environment, where she is hanging out with a friend in typical teenage fashion and reading books on her bed beneath posters of the singer Justin Bieber, and at the training ground, where she is shown playing with the ball with her team mates. The video portrays, on the one hand, a typical teenager, and on the other hand, a life which is very different from that of an ordinary Danish teenager – what makes Nancy part of the community is football.

Similar videos are found on the GAME website. As part of the description of a particular programme, ‘Support on the asphalt’, a video features a young girl, Annika, and her mother, Birgitte. The mother narrates in voiceover/filmed interview, while we follow the two of them, accompanied by a younger brother, as they take part in a parkour training session at a GAME gym. The setup of the video echoes the Hummel videos by moving from grey/dark everyday life to a bright and lit-up gym setting:

Birgitte: Annika has always been particularly sensitive – that was what I called it – we kind of gave it our own name. When she turned ten she suddenly became really, really ill and unfortunately it took more than a year for her to get a diagnosis and get help. Her diagnosis now is OCD [Obsessive Compulsive Disorder], she is now medicated and functions well, but she has faced a lot of difficulty at various periods of time.

[A project leader from GAME explains that the aim of the project is to create sports for everyone, they do this at the street level, but also by focusing on groups that often do not participate in organised sports. The ‘head coach of the street movement’ describes how the training programme is constructed to allow anyone to participate with positive results.]

Birgitte: We had hardly left the gym the first time, before Annika said ‘wow, it would be even better if it lasted two hours’ and her little brother said ‘yea – two times a week would also be really great’. I was really like ‘what has happened to my children!’ – and it really is an amazing leap. The good days are parkour days. It is so positive and nice and you do it together and you play. It has such a good feeling, and I think this is what makes a difference for us.43

This narrative depicts the GAME parkour training as vitally important to the mental and physical health of the kids who come there. The visual markers of movement from dark tones and sombre moods to light and celebratory moods underscore the transformative properties of the GAME programme.

In both the GAME programme and the Sensational Football/Eir Soccer programme there is a contrast between the videos that present the narratives of ‘beneficiaries’ and the videos of the football tournament and festival activities. The festival footage depicts the colourful and joyful activities during the tournaments and games of the festival in sharp contrast to the darkness and dullness of the asylum centres and the difficult daily life of living with illness. In the festive videos, we see the celebrities and spectators of the basketball match, the imaginative and colourful costumes of the different football teams as well as bodies dancing, drinking, playing, falling, colliding with each other, and embracing after a win.44 Read together, the videos about the beneficiaries and the videos celebrating the community atmosphere of the festival can be seen to display a dichotomy involving detachment and excludedness versus community and includedness. The festival and the tournament constitute breaks from the restraints of everyday life. The intertextual meaning created between these videos represents the Sensational Football/Eir Soccer and GAME events at Roskilde Festival as radically different places that are infused with the ‘Orange Feeling’. In this chronotope a new community of fun is created where hierarchical divides such as citizenship, language, culture, nationality and diagnosis were temporarily suspended. Having a party while supporting the marginalised is the logic behind the Orange Karma events. This is depicted in the description, which accompanies the video reportage of Midheta and Mihreta on YouTube:

In the very heart of the Orange Karma collaboration you find Karma Asylum United.

All the different Orange Karma activities at Roskilde Festival contribute to the shared ambition of creating moments of peace and friendship for women in Danish asylum centres.

With Sensational Football as the driving association behind the projects, we use football and music as tools for change in six Danish asylum centres. More than 200 female asylum seekers have practiced and found unity and a lot of smiles in our sport and music activities.

At the festival, teams from each centre will participate in the football tournament – but also party and dance together with festival guests.45

During the two years that had passed between the 2013 football tournament and the 2015 GAME events there had been a great increase in the use of smartphones (especially at the festival site, where recharging facilities had become readily available, enabling continuous access to the internet) to the extent that many activities throughout the festival have become online/offline integrated. As we have seen, the connection between online and offline participation in the events themselves was essential to experience the GAME events – indeed we literally had to go online in order to even know when the event would take place. Particularly the Instagram feed of GAME extends the organisation’s ability to portray itself as simultaneously hip and cool as well as socially active and engaged. With the popularisation of humanitarianism social media is increasingly used and it has become common to promote humanitarian causes online through images and videos enabling consumers to show their interest and concern through ‘likes’ and ‘sharing’ such causes. It had thus in some ways become ‘natural’ for the festival participants to ‘meet’ the beneficiaries online in 2015, whereas they encountered the asylum-seekers in person in 2013. Being online had become the norm in 2015, whereas being offline, and thus ‘turned off’, had come to denote being deficient or lacking, and thus an abnormal situation. So, simply put – our offline experience of the GAME celebrity basketball game was only half – we were meant to be tuned into it online as well as show up in order to participate. The chronotope of the Roskilde Festival, and the Orange Karma events, was thus extended beyond the time-place of the festival grounds/Orange Karma area via the online representations and participation in the events.

Conclusion: Orange Karma as corporate utopia

When people dress up in costumes and associate more freely with strangers than one would outside the festival chronotope, new norms and social imaginaries are created – with which Hummel can be associated. The organisations Sensational Football/Eir Soccer and GAME add to this. Sensational Football/Eir Soccer did so with its practice of creating spaces for enacting equality and bodily proximity between people who in their everyday lives are separated by virtue of their differing legal status. The festival in 2013 happened well before the sudden media focus on refugees spurred by the 2015 large-scale movement of refugees to Europe. At the time, the tournament therefore enabled the Danish population to become better acquainted with asylum-seekers and to see how different the asylum-seekers playing on the teams could be. Some were black, some white; some wore headscarves, others had high ponytails. Additionally, participants in the events were introduced to the different asylum centres by virtue of the team names. Furthermore, through the asylum-seeker teams the women shared something besides being asylum-seekers – football. Finally, the fact that the tournament of both the asylum-seekers and the regular festival participants only comprised women challenged the European norm that it is men who play football. GAME similarly played with turning things on their head by letting bitter rivals such as the hippie anti-establishment community of Christiania and the police play against each other. The organisations thereby also acted as co-imaginers of new social norms.

What the two events that we have studied here share is the involvement of the corporate sponsor Hummel via Orange Karma. The corporate philosophy of Company Karma places Hummel as a not-so-silent partner with the two organisations GAME and Sensational Football/Eir Soccer.46 Not only does Hummel get positive branding for its corporate philosophy via the collaboration, it also promotes the marketing of its products. An Orange Karma shoe and clothing line, with the characteristic orange colour of the festival, has thus been launched and sold in the Orange Karma area and at a Hummel shop in the concert area (see figure 12.8). The profits go to good causes while simultaneously promoting the Hummel brand.

Figure 12.8Photo of commercial poster advertising Hummel sneakers at Roskilde Festival

The CEO of Hummel, Christian Stadil, embodies the Karma branding of Hummel to such an extent that his mere presence at the festival was described by one local tabloid as adding Karma to the festival.47 Roskilde Festival seems like a near perfect match for Hummel’s CSR branding. The Orange Feeling and Orange Karma can be seen to complement, and blend seamlessly into, each other. At another level, however, the fit between Orange Karma and Roskilde Festival seems to benefit mainly Hummel.

The chronotope of the festival is characterised by being limited both geographically (to the festival grounds) and in time (the festival takes place during a short well-defined period of time). However, as argued above, this time-place is stretched beyond the fixed geographical and temporal boundaries of the festival via online representations of the festival by numerous actors: the festival organisation itself, participants in the festival, volunteer organisations, NGOs and corporate sponsors such as Hummel. On the one hand, Orange Karma is as such provided with a time-place, Roskilde Festival, where it can manifest its physical presence, as the bearer of ‘good karma’, and become associated with the positive vibes of the ‘Orange Feeling’. On the other hand, it also acquires a virtual time-space for positioning itself, especially on the Internet, as a commercial corporation benefiting from what amounts to generous advertising. Furthermore, the corporation’s association with the Roskilde Festival places Orange Karma as a co-imaginer of new possible meanings and norms for society. In this way it can promote the Hummel brand as symbolising the ‘community, solidarity and free spiritedness’ associated with these new norms. This arguably adds significant value to a fashion sports brand.

Whether or not the inclusion of a corporate brand such as Hummel in the processes of creating new cultural meanings enables the imagining of new equalities is a critical question. The carnivalesque spirit of turning normal hierarchies of authority upside down, of mocking the clergy and of using laughter and bodily functions as mediums for this mockery, appear far removed from the Company Karma imagery associated with Christian Stadil’s Buddhist fashion iconography and the Hummel brand. Likewise, it seems strange that the seriousness of the online representations of the young asylum-seekers and the young children struggling with mental illness flow seamlessly into the carefree spirit of the festival. This apparent contradiction, nevertheless, does correspond well with the festival’s overall humanitarian manifesto and carnivalesque spirit. Solemnity and laughter are both part of the festival chronotope and the connection between the two may be integral to the creation of utopian imaginings of new and different cultural imaginaries. These imaginaries, however, are also part of a corporate branding strategy that may be regarded as a means of exploiting the festival chronotope for ends that have more to do with private gain than community building, and which are thus counter to the carnivalesque spirit.

Notes

1 For example, A. Biccum, ‘Marketing Development: Celebrity Politics and the “New” Development Advocacy’, Third World Quarterly, 32:7 (2011), pp. 133146; L. Chouliaraki, ‘The Theatricality of Humanitarianism A Critique of Celebrity Advocacy’, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 9:1 (2012), pp. 121; A. de Waal, ‘The Humanitarian Carnival: A Celebrity Vogue’, World Affairs, 171:2 (2008), pp. 4355.
2 For example, L. A. Richey and S. Ponte, Brand Aid: Shopping Well to Save the World (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2011); I. Kapoor, Celebrity Humanitarianism: The Ideology of Global Charity (New York: Routledge, 2013).
3 For example, L. Chouliaraki, The Ironic Spectator: Solidarity in the Age of Post-Humanitarianism (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013); Kapoor, Celebrity Humanitarianism; M. K. Goodman and C. Barnes, ‘Star/Poverty Space: The Making of the “Development Celebrity”’, Celebrity Studies 2:1 (2011), pp. 6985.
4 See M. Horkheimer and T. W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, trans. E. Jephcott, ed. G. S. Noerr (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002).
5 R. Silverstone, Media and Morality: On the Rise of the Mediapolis (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2007), p. 125.
6 For example, M. F. Olwig and L. B. Christiansen, ‘Irony and Politically Incorrect Humanitarianism: Danish Celebrity-Led Benefit Events’, in L. A. Richey (ed.), Celebrity Humanitarianism and North-South Relations: Politics, Place and Power (London and New York: Routledge, 2015), pp. 17088; Biccum, ‘Marketing Development’; J. Street, ‘Celebrity Politicians: Popular Culture and Political Representation’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 6:4 (2004), pp. 43552; D. Lewis, D. Rodgers and M. Woolcock (eds), Popular Representations of Develoopment: Insights from Novels, Films, Television and Social Media (London: Routledge, 2014).
7 M. Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, trans. H. Iswolsky (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1984).
8 M. Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, ed. and trans. C. Emerson, int. W. C. Booth (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1984).
9 S. Hildebrandt and C. Stadil, Company Karma (Copenhagen: Lindhardt og Ringhof, 2007).
10 S. Gyimóthy and M. Trandberg Jensen, ‘Re-Enchanting the “Orange Feeling” in the Festival Community’, in B. Timm Knudsen, D. Refslund Christensen and P. Blenker (eds), Enterprising Initiatives in the Experience Economy: Transforming Social Worlds (New York: Routledge, 2015), pp. 20925.
11 Lene Bull Christiansen, field notes, 30 June 2015.
12 See M. F. Olwig and L. B. Christiansen, ‘Festive Environmentalism: A Carnevalesque Reading of Eco-Voluntourism at the Roskilde Festival’, in M. Mostafanezhad, R. Norum, E. J. Shelton and A. Thompson-Carr (eds), Political Ecology of Tourism. Community, Power and the Environment (New York: Routledge, 2016), pp. 10828.
13 Hildebrandt and Stadil, Company Karma.
14 See his website (www.christianstadil.com. Accessed 6 March 2016), his Facebook page (www.facebook.com/pages/Christian-Stadil/1413894892175762?fref=ts. Accessed 6 March 2016) and his Instagram account (www.instagram.com/p/5C44oBGHZl/?taken-by=christian_stadil. Accessed 6 March 2016).
15 M. Bell and M. E. Gardiner (eds), Bakhtin and the Human Sciences (London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi: Sage, 1998), p. 5.
16 Olwig and Christiansen, ‘Festival Environmentalism’, p. 112.
17 Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, p. 126.
18 M. Bakhtin, Karneval og latterkultur, trans. J. Hansen (Copenhagen: Det Lille Forlag, 2001), p. 45.
19 For example, M. Valverde, ‘Studying the Governance of Crime and Security: Space, Time and Jurisdiction’, Criminology and Criminal Justice, 14:4 (2014), pp. 37991.
20 Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, p. 106. Bakhtin uses the concept ‘world sense’ rather than ‘world view’.
21 M. Holquist, Dialogism: Bakhtin and His World (London: Routledge, 2nd edn, 2002), pp. 889.
22 Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, p. 107.
23 Y. Tuan, ‘Space and Place: Humanist Perspective’, Progress in Geography, 6 (1974), pp. 21152.
24 Tuan, ‘Space and Place’, p. 213.
25 Tuan, ‘Space and Place’, p. 213.
26 See https://eirsoccer.com. According to Norse mythology, a Valkyrie decides who lives and dies in battle. Accessed 15 March 2017.
27 See https://eirsoccer.com. Accessed 15 March 2017.
28 See https://eirsoccer.com. Accessed 15 March 2017.
29 See https://eirsoccer.com. Accessed 15 March 2017.
30 Hummel, ‘Girl Power and Fisherman,’ (7 January 2013), http://www.hummel.net/aa-DK/karma/page/373/GirlPowerandFisherman. Accessed 16 March 2015.
31 Mette Fog Olwig, field notes, 1–2 July 2013.
32 Snobrød (‘Twistbread’) is bread on a stick that is made over a bonfire and usually with children.
33 Mette Fog Olwig, field notes, 2 July 2013.
34 See http://gamedenmark.org/om-game/. Accessed 20 February 2016. Game Denmark, ‘Støtte på Asfalten’ (15 January 2016), www.youtube.com/watch?v=jImL8xhmv6w. Accessed 15 March 2017.
35 A. Rønning-Andersson, ‘Filantropisk Iværksætter Med Forretningsmæssig Forståelse’, Henley Business School Danmark (3 October 2016), http://henley.dk/henley-magasinet/filantropisk-ivaerksaetter-forretningsmaessig-forstaaelse/. Accessed 15 March 2017.
36 S. Prahm, GAME Årsberetning 2015 (Copenhagen: GAME Denmark, 2015), translated from the Danish by the authors.
37 Thornico, ‘Spreading Orange Karma at Roskilde Festival 2015’, Thornico (9 July 2015), www.thornico.com/Sport--Fashion.4701/Spreading-Orange-Karma-at-Roskilde-Festival-2015.900033.aspx. Accessed 15 March 2017.
38 Lene Bull Christiansen, field notes, 30 June 2015.
39 hummel1923TV, ‘hummel girls at Sensational Football at Roskilde Festival’ (16 July 2012), www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XwKasw4SN4. Accessed 15 March 2017; hummel1923TV, ‘Sensational Football at Roskilde Festival 2013’ (12 July 2013), www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvlnBOprvfs. Accessed 15 March 2017; S SS, ‘Sensational På Roskilde Festival’ (7 July 2010), www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgo3dUh3QZU. Accessed 15 March 2017.
40 For example, hummel1923TV, ‘Orange Karma Asylum – Featuring Midheta & Mihreta’ (2 July 2013), www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaQoopQkVAQ. Accessed 15 March 2017; hummel1923TV, ‘Orange Karma Asylum – Featuring Mildred’ (2 July 2013), www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQlXLBNBn_g. Accessed 15 March 2017.
41 hummel1923TV, ‘Orange Karma Asylum – Featuring Midheta & Mihreta’, translated from the Danish by the authors.
42 hummel1923TV, ‘Orange Karma Asylum – Featuring Nancy’ (2 July 2013), www.youtube.com/watch?v=GheBhTdQO0g. Accessed 15 March 2017.
43 Game Denmark, ‘Støtte på Asfalten’, translated from the Danish by the authors.
44 For example hummel1923TV, ‘Sensational Football at Roskilde Festival 2013’; Game Denmark, ‘GAME at Roskilde Festival 2015’ (6 July 2015), www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbXJ2F6R-ds. Accessed 15 March 2017; Orange Karma, ‘Orange Karma Sensational 2013 – The Finals’ (5 July 2013), www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3DzFzW2EcQ. Accessed 15 March 2017.
45 hummel1923TV, ‘Orange Karma Asylum – Featuring Midheta & Mihreta’.
46 Hildebrandt and Stadil, Company Karma.
47 See Christian Stadil’s Instagram (2016), www.instagram.com/p/5C44oBGHZl/?taken-by=christian_stadil. Accessed 15 March 2017.

References

Bakhtin, M., Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics, ed. and trans. C. Emerson, int. W. C. Booth (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1984).

Bakhtin, M., Rabelais and His World, trans. H. Iswolsky (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1984).

Bakhtin, M., Karneval og latterkultur, trans. J. Hansen (Copenhagen: Det Lille Forlag, 2001).

Bell, M. and M. E. Gardiner (eds), Bakhtin and the Human Sciences (London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi: Sage, 1998).

Biccum, A. ‘Marketing Development: Celebrity Politics and the “New” Development Advocacy’, Third World Quarterly, 32:7 (2011), pp. 133146.

Chouliaraki, L. ‘The Theatricality of Humanitarianism A Critique of Celebrity Advocacy’, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 9:1 (2012), pp. 121.

Chouliaraki, L., The Ironic Spectator: Solidarity in the Age of Post-Humanitarianism (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013).

Game Denmark, ‘GAME at Roskilde Festival 2015’ (6 July 2015), www.youtube.com/watch?v= bbXJ2F6R-ds. Accessed 15 March 2017.

Game Denmark, ‘Støtte på Asfalten’ (15 January 2016), www.youtube.com/watch?v=jImL8xhmv6w. Accessed 15 March 2017.

Goodman, M. K. and C. Barnes, ‘Star/Poverty Space: The Making of the “Development Celebrity”’, Celebrity Studies, 2:1 (2011), pp. 6985.

Gyimóthy, S. and M. Trandberg Jensen, ‘Re-Enchanting the “Orange Feeling” in the Festival Community’, in B. Timm Knudsen, D. Refslund Christensen and P. Blenker (eds), Enterprising Initiatives in the Experience Economy: Transforming Social Worlds (New York: Routledge, 2015), pp. 20925.

Hildebrandt, S. and C. Stadil, Company Karma (Copenhagen: Lindhardt og Ringhof, 2007).

Holquist, M., Dialogism: Bakhtin and His World (London: Routledge, 2nd edn, 2002).

Horkheimer, M. and T. W. Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, trans. E. Jephcott, ed. G. S. Noerr (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002).

hummel1923TV, ‘hummel girls at Sensational Football at Roskilde Festival’ (16 July 2012), www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XwKasw4SN4. Accessed 15 March 2017.

hummel1923TV, ‘Orange Karma Asylum – Featuring Midheta & Mihreta’ (2 July 2013), www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaQoopQkVAQ. Accessed 15 March 2017.

hummel1923TV, ‘Orange Karma Asylum – Featuring Mildred’ (2 July 2013), www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQlXLBNBn_g. Accessed 15 March 2017.

hummel1923TV, ‘Orange Karma Asylum – Featuring Nancy’ (2 July 2013), www.youtube.com/watch?v=GheBhTdQO0g. Accessed 15 March 2017.

hummel1923TV, ‘Sensational Football at Roskilde Festival 2013’ (12 July 2013), www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvlnBOprvfs. Accessed 15 March 2017.

Kapoor, I., Celebrity Humanitarianism: The Ideology of Global Charity (New York: Routledge, 2013).

Lewis, D., D. Rodgers and M. Woolcock (eds), Popular Representations of Development: Insights from Novels, Films, Television and Social Media (London: Routledge, 2014).

Olwig, M. F. and L. B. Christiansen, ‘Irony and Politically Incorrect Humanitarianism: Danish Celebrity-Led Benefit Events’, in L. A. Richey (ed.), Celebrity Humanitarianism and North-South Relations: Politics, Place and Power (London and New York: Routledge, 2015), pp. 17088.

Olwig, M. F. and L. B. Christiansen, ‘Festive Environmentalism: A Carnevalesque Reading of Eco-Voluntourism at the Roskilde Festival’, in M. Mostafanezhad, R. Norum, E. J. Shelton and A. Thompson-Carr (eds), Political Ecology of Tourism: Community, Power and the Environment (New York: Routledge, 2016), pp. 10828.

Orange Karma, ‘Orange Karma Sensational 2013 – The Finals’ (5 July 2013), www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3DzFzW2EcQ. Accessed 15 March 2017.

Prahm, S., GAME Årsberetning 2015 (Copenhagen: GAME Denmark, 2015).

Richey, L. A. and S. Ponte, Brand Aid: Shopping Well to Save the World (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2011).

Rønning-Andersson, A., ‘Filantropisk Iværksætter Med Forretningsmæssig Forståelse’, Henley Business School Danmark (3 October 2016), http://henley.dk/henley-magasinet/filantropisk-ivaerksaetter-forretningsmaessig-forstaaelse/. Accessed 15 March 2017.

S SS, ‘Sensational På Roskilde Festival’ (7 July 2010), www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgo3dUh3QZU. Accessed 15 March 2017.

Silverstone, R., Media and Morality: On the Rise of the Mediapolis (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2007).

Street, J., ‘Celebrity Politicians: Popular Culture and Political Representation’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 6:4 (2004), pp. 43552.

Thornico, ‘Spreading Orange Karma at Roskilde Festival 2015’, Thornico (9 July 2015), www.thornico.com/Sport--Fashion.4701/Spreading-Orange-Karma-at-Roskilde-Festival-2015.900033.aspx. Accessed 15 March 2017.

Tuan, Y., ‘Space and Place: Humanist Perspective’, Progress in Geography, 6 (1974), pp. 21152.

Valverde, M., ‘Studying the Governance of Crime and Security: Space, Time and Jurisdiction’, Criminology and Criminal Justice, 14:4 (2014), pp. 37991.

de Waal, A., ‘The Humanitarian Carnival: A Celebrity Vogue’, World Affairs, 171:2 (2008), pp. 4355.

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