Compare and Contrast: “Popular Music from Vittula” and “Naïve, Super” Essay

October 6, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Dec 9th, 2019


The influence of American cultures on other countries is notable globally. The Scandinavian culture remains one of the observable traditions that have harbored significant manipulations from prevalent global cultures. Renowned academicians as well as writers have noted these influences and presented them within their literary works. Mikael Niemi and Erlend Loe are such authors that present the notable ways through which young Americans have influenced the Scandinavian culture.

Generally, these two novels appear to be a presentation of fictional imaginations about the lives of two young Americans and how they relate with the society as well as people around them. They are both fictions that tend to give a comic and humorous depiction of the lifestyles of two young personalities. This paper thus compares and contrasts the diverse ways through which the young Americans have influenced the Scandinavian culture.

Contrasts and Comparisons

Foremost, a critical analysis of the two novels presents the atmosphere of humor as well as comic relief. The authors appear humorous in their artistic work. The description of the Scandinavian culture assumes a comic presentation with both young main characters taking the enter focus. It is observable that the “popular music from Vittula” gives a presentation of a typical village as well as native Swedish cultural practices.

On the other hand, Erlen Loe’s Naïve Super, presents a modern metropolitan atmosphere of New York that includes a multicultural state of affairs. In particular, the cultural interactions within the two settings presented in the two novels are multi-dimensional. In Vittula specifically, the young Americans there indicate their lives as that predominantly observed in Alaska, Arkansaa, or Idaho.

These are places known to be very far off the beaten track. While the young Americans popular music from Vittula tries to transform the Swedish life to fit that of the typical American countryside, the Erlen Loe’s novel presents a high class urban life that tries to globalize all cultures and mainstream them into a singular international one.

The closeness of Vittula to the border of Finland enabled most of its occupants to speak Finnish as well as Swedish as their predominant languages. The young Americans within this area as depicted in the Mikael Niemi’s novel have played a critical role in influencing the teenage lifestyle. For instance, when the main character in the popular music from Vittula meets the Finnish friend for the first time, it is observable that he tries to speak in English.

It is notable that that the young American occupants of Vittulah tend to ignore the Scandinavian culture and assume their occupancy of the area as the most vital happening. This is despite the fact that the young Americans are well acquainted with both the Scandinavian languages as well as the American. On the contrary, as depicted in the Erlen Loe’s novel, there seems to be more pressure placed on the Scandinavian culture as well as its people or personalities to adopt a more universal or global cultural outlook.

It is vital to note that the predominant first person narrators are the major cultural transformation agents. Something similar to both the popular music from Vittula as well as the Erlen Loe’s novel is that the young American characters prevailing in the novels tend to appreciate the human humor as well as comic. For instance, the young character in the Mikael Niemi’s popular music from Vittula presents a typical conversation with an equally young Finnish friend that he meets for the first time.

He seductively as well as assumedly talks in English first before confirming whether his friend understands or does not understand English. Thereafter, a Finnish conversation follows. The striking thing is that this consequent conversation is full of American ideologies and culture. Perhaps a vivid illustration of their conversation would provide a typical instance of the scenario.

The tendency of the young American occupants in Vittula to transform their peers to be English speakers is notable in the character’s first encounter with the Finnish friend. For instance, he first asks through self wonder that “what’s your name?” when he meets the Finnish friend.

It is however observable that after he guesses that the Finnish friend cannot answer, he opts to instead use the Finnish language: “Mikas sinun nimi on?” which typically stands for the same question he earlier on asked in Finnish (Niemi, 2004). The friend then answered because of the language familiarity. Contrary to the presentation evident within the Erlen Loe’s novel, the young characters are reluctant to apply the use of the Scandinavian languages.

It is evident that they are reluctant to apply the Scandinavian culture in their daily lifestyle as well as interactions. The latter is set on a globally cultural sensitive environment that rather influences the surrounding to a more globally accepted practices, culture as well as lifestyle.

Evidently, both the major characters in the Erlen Loe’s novel as well as the Mikael Niemi’s popular music from Vittula are depicted at first to be culturally insensitive and unaware of the happenings around them. In the ‘Naïve, Super’ for instance, the character admits that he was “troubled by the inability to find any meaning in life” (Loe, 2011). Their ability to categorically influence the younger generation critical and can be observed by their younger ages.

For instance, the main character in the Erlen Loe’s novel of Naïve, Super is only a 25 year old narrator. Likely, the major character in the Mikael Niemi’s popular music from Vittula is a younger teenager still dependant on his parents’ insight and knowledge.

This is particularly seen when he asks his dad a question about the extent of the world. For instance, in Chapter one of the novel, the character asks the dad a simple question: that “how big is the world?” Consequently, the dad answers that, “It’s enormous” (Niemi 2004).

The young Americans in Vittula embrace mechanization at a higher rate relative to their Scandinavian counterparts. It is stated in Mikael Niemi’s popular music from Vittula that the “there was not much work there outside the timber industry, and with the advent of mechanization most of the lumberjacks are chronically employed” (Niemi, 2004).

There is evidence that with the advent and influence of the young Americans inVittula, even the native practices and professions such as the lumberjacks had to suffer or transform to the more mechanized approaches of doing things.

The cultural influence of young Americans as depicted in the Erlen Loe’s novel of Naïve, Super is however based on the demands and practices of native or countryside American culture. Instead, it is based on the global perspectives of life itself. To begin with, it is notable that the main character quits the university and eventually arrives at his brother’s New York apartment. The character then depicts the nature and behavior of a person never satisfied with the state of his present life.

Consequently, he decides to “write a list of things that will assist him discover what life is all about” (Loe, 2011). In doing this, the youthful character looks down upon the beliefs of his contemporary age mates who are actually the Scandinavian. It is thus observable that their beliefs and cultural practices become gradually transformed into a more city and globally dictated pattern or form.

Unlike the gradual acceptance of reality and life’s consequences of the character in the Mikael Niemi’s popular music from Vittula, the the Erlen Loe’s novel of Naïve, Super depicts a rather culturally impatient character with an urge to adopt the most recent lifestyles and cultural practices.

There is demonstration that such a character looks down upon other characters and cultures. This can be evidenced by the fact that he does not particularly embrace his culture given by the fact that he himself decides to quit his u university education in search of a better life and culture. The appreciation of art in both cultural influences that can be drawn from both cultures is critical.


It is notable that whilst the Vittula novel setting appreciates the Native American musical accompaniments and taste, the New York set the Erlen Loe’s novel of Naïve, Super demonstrates a more refined musical taste.

This is because the occurrences and cultural influences are devoid of the appreciation of the Native American culture and music. Conclusively, it is notable that the two novels indicate a significant influence that young Americans have on the Scandinavian culture. It is also notable that upon a critical analysis, several instances can be drawn from the novels.


Loe, E. (2011). Naïve super. Edinburgh: Canongate Books.

Niemi, M. (2004). Popular music from Vittula: A novel. New York, NY: Seven Stories Press.

This essay on Compare and Contrast: “Popular Music from Vittula” and “Naïve, Super” was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

Read more