Thursday, September 1, 2011
Black women stereotyped in Dutch film “Only decent people”
On the photo Geza Weisz and Imanuelle Grives
The feature film “Alleen maar nette Mensen” (“Only decent people”), based on the Dutch controversial novel of Robert Vuijsje, will be in cinema in March 2012. The book sparked a lot of controversy in The Netherlands and was called racist. The film and the book is about a middle class Jewish man, who is searching for an intelligent voluptuous real “negro” woman.
The story is about 21-year-old David Samuels who is Jewish, but has the appearance of an Arabic looking Moroccan. He is a typical rich kid who was educated at the Barleaus Gymnasium, an the elite grammar school in Amsterdam. His mother is a lawyer and his father is a well known television presenter.
He has a girlfriend named Naomi and they both live in the posh district Amsterdam South, where 'only decent people' live. The word 'decent people', which is also the title of the novel, refers to people who are not 'allochtonen' and especially not Moroccans. ‘Allochtonen’ is the Dutch word for non-western foreigners.
But, as IDTV wrote in the synopsis, " David discovers he has a craving for black beauties with huge boobs and bum from the suburbs. He dumps his girlfriend and sets out on a quest for his dream, drops out of college and woman. An apolitical and irreligious film about the clash between social and cultural classes, based on the novel by Robert Vuijsje."
In a column Anousha Nzume wrote about some of the offensive passages in the novel. "Main character David believes there are two types of 'negro' women. The Sherida chain; black as coal, wears at least size 46. Cup size 95 F. Not taller then 1.65. At least one of her tiny garments has leopard print. She does it with every man. Breezer desirable but not essential. Available in the “negro women disco".
Then there is the “bounty” (black from the outside, white from the inside), highly educated with dreadlocks. Only does it with white men, in the absence of negroes of a certain level. She is boring, unsociable and mainly dressed in batik. You can find her at a slavery debate."
To add some Dutch context. The name Sherida refers to a popular Surinamese name, but it refers to a name of ‘working class’ black Surinamese women. The sentence “Breezer desirable but not essential”, refers to the light alcoholic drink Breezer and to the Dutch word “Breezer slut”, meaning a girl who sleeps with a man for a Breezer. The ‘black’ setting of the book and the film is the Bijlmer, which is considered a poor black neighbourhood in the district Amsterdam South-East.
The book also sparked controversy within the Black community in The Netherlands. Some people felt that the book cheapened black women and interracial relationships, but others felt that a lot of black women fit the profile and should therefore not complain about the stereotypes in the book.
In the film the Jewish character David is played by Geza Weisz and the black female character is played by Imanuelle Grive (who is of Surinamese descent). Shooting of the film will be from 4 September till half October and the film is planned to be in Cinema on the 1ste of March next year, distributor Wild Bunch reported Thursday
A video of a debate (in Dutch) about the book in 2009 with author Robert Vuijsje.
Trivia, the author had a black girlfriend when the book was published. See a Dutch colomn about the author "Why I am not a racist" here
Because most people don't understand Dutch, a short translation.
The first woman in the video is documentary maker Mildred Roethof, she feels the book is oke, she says that the book is telling the untold story of underclass black women. She loves the book
The woman in red says that the book is painting a one-sided picture. She is Elvira Sweet, the former chairman of the city district of Amsterdam South East.
The white woman refers to a research which shows that the stories and images of men are overrepresented in the media. Which means that women are far less represented in the media. And that it applies to black women even more.
The author Vuisje replies that 1 out 50 people in the Netherlands if of Surinamese origin and that Surinamese people are overrepresented in the public debate.
The big man is radio host Guilly Koster. He says that he had interviewed him before and he says "your naive as hell man. You sit behind that table talking about black people as if I am not there. That hurts man.”
The woman with the Rasta is youth activist Hady Jane Guds, she says that he should bring with him the intellectual black woman he is looking for every time he talks about the subject in a program. So black women can give their own opinion.
Vuistjes replies that they are putting themselves in an inferior position.
The woman with the white sweater, says that she was almost family with the author because a cousin of her dated him. She says she had only white heroes because there weren't any black heroes around. She dated white boys, went to a white school and went to ballet. But at her media jobs people still treated her as a cliché black woman. She says he can write about black women what he wants, because black women also talk that way about each other. She wants a black role model that she can look up to. When that's accomplished then there is room for these kind of books.
The woman in black is theatre maker Anousha Nzume, she says she is tired of the black stereotypes. She ask what effect this book will have on people who don't understand what he wrote in his book
Also see the post on Afro-Europe - Dutch novel reinforces sexual stereotypes of black women