Here’s something from the old box, as we say in Dutch: an American reporter of the NBC tries to interview Olympic gold speed skating champion Sven Kramer after his win in the 5000 metre event in Vancouver in 2010. Prefaced by a Dutch journalist saying ‘the interview started in a weird way’, Kramer tells the NBC reporter exactly what he thinks of her first question – watch the video to find out.
Part of me thinks, ‘wow, his answer was rude! And then he continues normally as if he hadn’t been rude’. The other part of me thinks, ‘wow, what an ignorant journalist asking a gold medal winner to identify themselves because if it were an American she would never have done that’.
This video fragment is like those pictures where depending how you look at them, you can see two different things, but never both at once.
Some 65 years after it all started, Radio Netherlands Worldwide’s Dutch service will go off the air this week on Friday 11 May. To mark the shut down, it will feature a 24-hour live radio marathon starting on Thursday 10 May at 8 pm UTC (10 pm local time) and run until Friday 11 May at 8 pm UTC (10 pm local time).
Hosts Karin van den Boogaert, Anouk Tijssen and Wim Vriezen will talk about the station’s beginnings, playing wartime audio from Radio Oranje and many RNW newscasts of important events in Dutch and world history. They’ll also touch upon special programmes on culture and language as well as shows aimed at expats, seafarers and truck drivers.
Although the Dutch service is signing off for good, they’ll also talk about the future of Radio Netherlands Worldwide, promoting free speech in places where freedom of the press is under threat. Basically, this is what they are being ask to push after the budgets cuts, making the best of a bad situation.
RNW is going off the air due to huge budget cuts, losing some 70% of their usual funding. Tons of people will lose or have already lost their job, while Editor-in-Chief Rik Rensen and his second in command Ardi Bouwers, quit in April over the cuts. RIP.
Today, 20 November 2010, is the day that ‘The Netherlands screams for culture’ (Nederland schreeuwt om cultuur), a movement among the general population to campaign against the huge budget cuts in culture subsidies throughout the Netherlands.
Big whoop? Why can’t all those venues and orchestras make their own money and stop sponging off the government? As a North American used to ‘pulling yourself up by your bootstraps’ when it comes to culture, knowing that some venues (actual businesses) are subsidised up to 40% (!) is hard to fathom. And if you pull the plug on their grants, entire smaller cities will have no cultural institutions to speak of. But is that such a bad thing?
While there are all kinds of scandals involving cities pumping millions into local, bankrupt football clubs, the arts will not only suffer budget cuts, but the price of tickets for shows in 2011 will be taxed at the 19% VAT (valued added tax) instead of the current 6% rate. Theatre producers are going to the mat with the government, as the decision was made on a whim and will probably costs thousand of jobs. Interestingly enough, sports events will still be taxed at the 6% rate.
The idea behind this logic is politically motivated: One of the recently elected political parties pushing for this want to punish ‘left-wing, artsy-fartsy voters’ and coddle their ‘not as highly educated, right-wing, white, Dutch voters’, also referred to as ‘Henk and Ingrid’, The Smiths if you will, you know, regular Dutch people. Henk and Ingrid are much more inclined to go to a football game than catch Stravinsky’s Petrushka at the ballet.
On October 26, directed by Jules Buckley, an orchestra of some 150 musicians jammed out the Mambo from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. I can’t imagine Henk and Ingrid hate this so much they would want the government to pull the plug on all our major, award-wining orchestras, which is actually scheduled to happen.
Here are members of the Dutch Radio Orchestra and the Radio Choir staging a flashmob at The Hague central station against the Dutch government’s plans to scrap the Netherlands Broadcasting Music Center (MCO).
The Calvinist is interested in the essence of things. Everything else is unnecessary. In that view politeness is quickly seen as hypocrisy in the Netherlands.
The republican form of government of the Netherlands [from 1581 – 1795, Branko] may also have led to a very direct and uncomplicated form of contact. In other countries, manners were largely determined by the aristocracy—hence the word courteous. […] One of the leaders of the republic, Johan de Witt, was mighty enough to oppose the Sun King [Louis XIV, Branko], but when he tried to wear a gold and silver garment to underline that position, instead of the simple black every other Dutchman wore, the troops he tried to inspect jeered and laughed at him.
Considering the Dutch saw themselves as burghers before they became Protestants, I am guessing the second hypothesis may carry the larger weight. Unfortunately, Driessen does not expand on why the republic was such a successful idea in the Netherlands long before it became popular in other Western states.
The historian also points out that since other countries like Germany are letting go of class-based societies, the Dutch head start may actually turn into a disadvantage. Unlike people from other countries who now also learn how to talk straight when needed, the Dutch cannot easily reverse gear and use politeness to sugar coat unpleasant messages, as they have not been brought up in a culture of politeness. Driessen suggests that children could be taught manners in school to remedy this.
(Drawing of a Goop by Gelett Burgess, from a 1903 children’s book on manners.)
The Dutch are the worst foul mouths on the web in Europe according to a report (Dutch) by Christian daily Trouw (literally Loyalty). Germans enter comment threads of news sites with “dear Madam slash Sir,” the French don’t shy away from harsh language, but always reasoned, and the British pepper their comments with humour. The Dutch on the other hand are less sophisticated. They wish to ram their fists up the prime minister’s and the state budget up his replacement’s behind, to have the army rape Moroccan kids and to send “the Jews” to, er, the quiet province of Drenthe.
I didn’t get that last one either.
According to NoviaFacts, a company that moderates comments for newspaper De Telegraaf, some articles generate such bile that only about 10% of the comments can be published. The Dutch are too negative, says NoviaFacts’ CEO Claudia van der Laan: “Even when Anky van Grunsven wins a golden medal during the Olympics you still get people who say ‘Oh look, it’s horse face again.'”