Colonialism and cannibals: deconstructing a Dutch tourist attraction

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The brouhaha starts with the pot calling the kettle black: although she had a great time with her kids, an American journalist managed to find fault with a Dutch amusement park ride from De Efteling called ‘Monsieur Cannibale’ (yes, that’s French, explanation coming up) that features an African cannibal-like character with a bone through his nose by calling it ‘a racist throwback’. America’s Disney is already a cesspool of throwbacks, which dilutes the journalist’s comment as much as a useless homeopathic remedy.

The ride has been around since 1988 and regardless of what people think of it (‘racist throwback’ vs. ‘mythical character’), taking issue with it now is very lame, especially making a totally unproven connection between the offensive character and Dutch colonialism just to drive a point.

And it gets more odd at least for me.

A few years ago, there was an advert on Dutch telly with small children dancing around a room to the song ‘Monsieur Cannibale’ by Sacha Distel. I couldn’t understand why a song about a cannibal was deemed fit for dancing kiddies. My co-blogger pointed out that the Dutch knew this song from De Efteling.

Problem is Distel’s song is about a man captured in Africa by cannibals who thought he was a spy, trying to politely plead the head cannibal (hence addressing him as Monsieur) not to eat him, but negotiates his way out of it by offering him porno magazines. The head cannibal laughs, brings the guy back to his harem for a week after which the guy lose 20 kilos, refuses to leave and wants to stay with the harem, which we can easily assume are a whole bunch of naked, ready to go women.

You can imagine my surprise at seeing dancing children associated with trading porno magazines, something I bet most of you didn’t know. Well, now you know and you won’t be able to unknow it, just like me.

And if you want some French-style throwback, watch how Sacha pulls the side of his eyes to designate speaking Chinese in the video at 0:25 for starters.

(Link: www.nltimes.nl, Photo of an Efteling dragon by Jeroen Kransen, some rights reserved)

2 Comments »

  1. Is your thesis seriously: Disney has some racist imagery, therefore Americans can’t comment on Dutch society and racism?

    I’m guessing the cannibal with a bone through his nose is the only depiction of a black person at Efteling. You really don’t think that’s kind of a problem, especially since the thing was built in ’88??

    Comment by dersk — February 11, 2014 @ 10:31 am

  2. Anyone can comment, but they shouldn’t pretend they’ve never seen something offensive before for the sake of getting some media attention. Disney was used as a comparison in the Dutch media.

    Comment by Orangemaster — February 11, 2014 @ 10:37 am

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