Skip to main content

Danish election cartoon 'Voteman' pulled over scenes of sex, violence

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 8:22 AM EDT, Wed May 14, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Cartoon uses muscle-bound character called Voteman to persuade people to vote
  • Voteman is depicted in a series of sexually suggestive and violent scenes
  • Parliament speaker apologizes, says cartoon was "more serious and offensive" than intended
  • Danish Parliament's EU information center created cartoon ahead of European elections

(CNN) -- It's a perennial problem. How do you persuade young, apathetic voters to go to the polls? Enter "Voteman" -- Denmark's rather ill-judged and short-lived cartoon solution.

The cartoon opens with two apparently politically disaffected young men. The scene switches to Voteman, a muscle-bound, stubble-chinned superhero, answering a call asking him to persuade voters to have their say in the upcoming European Parliament elections.

Naked, he leaps up from a bed surrounded by women apparently performing sex acts on him and -- having donned a leather waistcoat and trousers -- sets off from a Bond villain-esque island hideout on his mission, riding a pair of harnessed dolphins as waterskis.

An orgy of cartoon violence follows -- one of the original men is decapitated, while other would-be non-voters are punched, slapped and tossed through the windows of a polling station to vote.

The cartoon is the unlikely creation of the Danish Parliament's EU information center, originally posted to its official YouTube page.

Less surprisingly perhaps, it has now been pulled and an apology made for its graphic sexual and violent content.

Mogens Lykketoft, speaker of the Danish Parliament, said in a statement on his Facebook page that many people had perceived the cartoon as "more serious and offensive than it was intended, and see it as talking down to the youth.

"Reaction in social media is sharply divided between those who see this as unacceptably vulgar, and those who think it is tough but acceptable humor which brings attention to the vote on May 25.

"The latter was the intention. But I acknowledge that Parliament, as an institution, in future has to show more caution in what we put our name to."

The cartoon tells the story of how Voteman, as a young man, once forgot to vote in European Parliament elections.

This, the narration says, taught him a painful lesson: "No influence on climate regulations, agricultural subsidies, chemicals in toys -- and the amount of cinnamon allowed in his cinnamon buns.

"Horrified by this, he decided he would dedicate his life to making everybody vote. So if you're not going to vote, don't try to run, don't try to hide, because he will find you. And he will make you vote."

The European Parliament elections, in which voters in each of the European Union's member states elect representatives to the body, are taking place across Europe next week. May 25 is the day on which Danish voters will go to the polls.

Denmark's turnout for the last European elections in 2009 was close to 60%, well above the European average of 43%.

CNN's Kim Norgaard contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:54 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
updated 7:24 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
updated 1:44 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
updated 8:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
updated 3:22 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
updated 4:00 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
updated 6:34 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT