As quarantine in Austria gradually winds down, the digital legacy of the coronavirus is becoming increasingly apparent – from singing in the face of adversity to cringy marketing videos.
1. Charming | Balcony Concerts Against Alienation
As viral videos of quarantined Italians singing from their balconies with captivating cheerfulness inundated the internet, Austrians, understandably, didn’t wish to be upstaged. Opera singers and wannabe rock stars mobilized and serenaded their neighborhoods all around the country to lift our spirit in times of crisis.
2. Melodrama | Hostile Neighbors
These impromptu concerts, however, weren’t always well received. “Quiet! You are not that good!” yelled a neighbor in a video tweeted by journalist Leila Al-Serori, proving once again that everyone’s a critic. Some found the reaction funny on social media, while others were annoyed by the rudeness displayed. Then again, Vienna does have a reputation to uphold as the third most unfriendly city in the world. Even in isolation.
3. Patriotic Soundtrack | “I am from Austria”
Staying with music: Police cars throughout Vienna blasted Reinahrd Fendrich’s iconic hit song “I am from Austria” during their 18:00 patrols for several days in March. “It’s a charming way to say thank you to everyone who helps and stays at home,” the police press office stated to the Austria Presse Agentur. Spokesman Daniel Fürst added that “Colleagues reported that people really came out and sang along.” The reception was largely positive on social media, praising it as “collateral beauty.”
However, others criticized the act for being one-sided and demanded a variety of multilingual songs. “I think it’s good that the police came up with new ideas in difficult times,” tweeted the lawyer and writer Oliver Scheiber, but “I am from Austria daily is nonsense.”
4. An Austropop Legend’s Acoustic Performance | “I am from Austria,” part II
Meanwhile, Fendrich himself responded via a video on his official Facebook page in late March, praising the work of doctors, nurses, and the government. As a morale booster, he treated his followers to a live rendition of “I am from Austria,” considered by many to be the unofficial national anthem. While the song’s title may imply a jingoistic stance to those unfamiliar with the lyrics, one article on Der Standard’s websitereminded everyone that Fendrich has never allowed himself – or his music – to be instrumentalized by far-right nationalists. In fact, his manager even sued the FPÖ when then party leader Heinz-Christian Strache used the song during party rallies. Fendrich’s video has 1.6M views on Facebook by now.
5. Awkward Ad | No Such Thing as Bad Publicity
“Screw in a pumpkin seed roll” and “nail in a Topfengolatsche:” CEO Doris Felber’s innuendo-laden ad promoting the reopening of her bakery chains in Austrian hardware stores caused much mirth on the net. Numerous comments on Twitter were positive, calling the clip “authentic,” but a wave of criticism prompted Ms. Felber to delete the video and counter hate comments with another video. “Felber, she’s embarrassing herself,” was a remark she read out loud, countering that “I may be embarrassing myself, but I’ll tell you something: We have 400 employees and 400 families supported by them. And we’re fighting to keep them. That’s why, come and buy from us.” Either way, all eyes have been on Felber, one way or another.