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Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News.
December 14, 2006 5:26 AM   Subscribe

Belgium is no more. Flanders has unilaterally declared independence, and the king has left the country in protest, RTBF reports.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (54 comments total)

 
Last two links YouTubes of cameraphone TV shots.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:27 AM on December 14, 2006


"Only after half an hour did the programme makers make it clear that the broadcast was a hoax."

Well that's a cop-out. It would have been great to witness this first hand. recordings in a foreign language after you already know the joke spoils the fun...
posted by twine42 at 5:37 AM on December 14, 2006


Holy shit! For the first time in modern history, something interesting has happened in Belgium.

But, as it turns out, not really.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:39 AM on December 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


NEWS: ALIENS JUST LANDED !

Mmhhh...that sounds old, but it still works. I guess that it proves something. Maybe that I am incredibly beautiful and intelligent ?
posted by elpapacito at 5:45 AM on December 14, 2006


Hoax ! It's a hoax ! It's an elaborate, Orson Welles-like stunt. I know, I'm belgian, I live here.

Some sort of separation of Belgium is far from impossible but far from official yet...
posted by Baud at 5:48 AM on December 14, 2006


This not just in: Bill Gates is Dead. But, as it turns out, not really. Are current events really so boring and droll that we have to keep making up our own? This is scary enough.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:57 AM on December 14, 2006


Flanders; a great coronation present for Willem IV!
posted by jouke at 6:01 AM on December 14, 2006 [2 favorites]


Who will cry for Benelux?
posted by four panels at 6:06 AM on December 14, 2006


Stupid Trixy Flanders.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:12 AM on December 14, 2006 [4 favorites]


In other news, Quebec secedes, the South rises again, and Puerto Rico becomes a state.
posted by leapfrog at 6:22 AM on December 14, 2006


I'm glad clever stuff like this still happens, at least in other countries. U.S. hoaxes are much more boring (BUSH WINS PRESIDENCY, give me a break).
posted by languagehat at 6:24 AM on December 14, 2006 [1 favorite]


It is sad this was a hoax. Belgium should split in half. France can annex Wallonia and bring social justice to the downtrodden masses.
posted by davebarnes at 6:48 AM on December 14, 2006


This is great. The first your tube clip (in Dutch) is quite funny. I can quite see this happening at some point, so it's a good hoax.

A few years ago I was with a friend in a swanky reception in Brussels. We had come from Holland for the do, and even though we both knew some French (we're both English, btw) we'd were so used to saying things in Dutch that as one of the waiters poured us a glass of champagne we said "Dank u wel" instead of "Merci". The waiter dropped his jaw and then proceeded to tell us that he was Flemish and that he hated speaking French. We told him that we were English but that didn't seem important to him. The fact that we could speak his language (however hesitantly) meant that he would come round every 30 seconds to fill our glasses. After a while of this he just started handing us bottles. To this day I'm not sure whether it was the fact that we spoke his language in a Francophone environment, or the fact that we were foreigners who could speak his language that made him so happy, but happy he was, and roaring drunk we were. Not a profound story, but one that made the tension that exists between the Flemish and the Waloons, quite clear.
posted by ob at 6:50 AM on December 14, 2006 [2 favorites]


Hear that? That's the sound of tanks warming up .
posted by blue_beetle at 6:53 AM on December 14, 2006


Europe's cute.
posted by DenOfSizer at 7:06 AM on December 14, 2006


wait a minute ... who's going to make the waffles?
posted by pyramid termite at 7:22 AM on December 14, 2006


No, ob, that's a great story, and very much reminiscent of my experiences with Brussels. In Flanders I might occasionally get a derisive laugh from some, let's say, less well-travelled people at my very Hollandic dialect of Dutch - perhaps not unlike the reaction a US southerner might get in any place in the UK away from the tourist trail. Other Flemish don't even seem to care.

In Brussels however, the neerlandophone population is apparently much in the minority, and the language wars highly palpable. On my first visit, after a few hours of "just trying the ol' Dutch", I gave up and just approached people in French, and if things got more complicated, English. Strange experience as a Dutchman, in a place so close to home where Dutch is supposed to be an official language.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:24 AM on December 14, 2006


Down with the French-speaking Walloons!
posted by jfuller at 7:26 AM on December 14, 2006


Yeah, good story ob.
Actually a friend of mine makes a living in Brussel by teaching flemish to french speaking folk. He says business is good since the economy is doing better in the flemish parts of Belgium.
posted by jouke at 7:30 AM on December 14, 2006


Oh, and another fun Belgian language wars tidbit: when Leuven Catholic University was split into a neerlandophone college in Leuven and a francophone one in, you guessed it, Louvain-la-Neuve, just a few miles away, they of course had to divide the library collection as well. Their plan for this? In true Belgian style, they just wanted to give all the even-numbered books to one university and the odd-numbered ones to the other. :)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:31 AM on December 14, 2006


That's a great story gnfti, a beautiful example of European Bureaucracy at work! I've tried Dutch in other places in Brussels. The thing is that in my experience most places people don't understand it when you say "Koffie alstublieft" so there's not much point trying any further. I still resolutely refuse to pronounce the names of Belgian beers with anything other than a Dutch accent DU-vel, not du-VEL, Grimbergen (with a nice throaty G) etc, just to make a point. In other places in Flanders, people assumed that I was Dutch, which is interesting as in Holland most people assume that I'm Belgian.
posted by ob at 7:45 AM on December 14, 2006


I ate at some of the finest restaurants there once. But I had a bad cold. So everything tasted flemish.
posted by hal9k at 7:49 AM on December 14, 2006


Jouke- that's amazing, the French-speakers learning Flemish. My father got into a taxi once in Bruges and started to speak French to the driver. The guy turned around and said 'I know that you're not French so I'll let you off. Only speak Flemish or English in Bruges!'

Actually, after a few strong Belgian beers one night, my dad stood up and said 'I love the Belgians! What a great country!' He meant it, and I've never since that day heard anyone else make such a remark, even a Belgian!
posted by ob at 7:53 AM on December 14, 2006


This sort of ethnic discord is barbaric, but sadly predictable: we all knew something like this would happen as soon as the Rwandans granted Belgium self-government.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 8:09 AM on December 14, 2006 [2 favorites]


Won't somebody please think of the chocolates?!?
posted by owhydididoit at 8:14 AM on December 14, 2006


Belgium's a dump, regardless. It's largely populated by furries, and much of its architecture is mired in dihydrogren monoxide.
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:31 AM on December 14, 2006


Hi-diddly-ho, neighbourinos!
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:54 AM on December 14, 2006


Belgium's a dump, regardless. It's largely populated by furries, and much of its architecture is mired in dihydrogren monoxide.

People are always slamming Belgium, and I am sick of it. Things are improving. (self link)
posted by Meatbomb at 9:01 AM on December 14, 2006


Ha, very funny krachtmatig
posted by jouke at 9:13 AM on December 14, 2006


i've got a great idea for the belgian tourism board's new slogan ... "belgium - come see us on the way to france"

all they have to do is to translate it into german and profit!
posted by pyramid termite at 9:55 AM on December 14, 2006


hal9k - "I prefer Belgian kissing. It's like French kissing but with more flem."
posted by twine42 at 10:13 AM on December 14, 2006


Well now, the result of last week's competition when we asked you to find a derogatory term for the Belgians. Well, the response was enormous and we took quite a long time sorting out the winners. There were some very clever entries.

Mrs. Hatred of Leicester said 'let's not call them anything, let's just ignore them' ...

... and a Mr. St. John of Huntingdon said he couldn't think of anything more derogatory than Belgians.

But in the end we settled on three choices:
Number three ... the Sprouts, sent in by Mrs. Vicious of Hastings. Very nice.
Number two... the Phlegms, from Mrs. Childmolester of Worthing.
But the winner was undoubtedly from Mrs. No-Supper-For-You from Norwood in Lancashire... Miserable Fat Belgian Bastards.
posted by Mister_A at 10:17 AM on December 14, 2006 [2 favorites]


Ha ha! Time to deploy my joke:

What is the difference between a French kiss and a Belgian kiss?

.
.
.
.
.

The Belgian kiss is half-phlegm.
posted by ladd at 11:08 AM on December 14, 2006


Belgium doesn't actually exist in the first place, so of course it's a hoax.
posted by moonbiter at 11:13 AM on December 14, 2006


damn. beaten to the punch. but mine is better.
posted by ladd at 11:17 AM on December 14, 2006


Hahaha and all, but imagine if this prank had been played on the current-day population of the US of A...something along these lines I imagine.
posted by mongonikol at 11:44 AM on December 14, 2006


According to their constitution, the King of Belgium isn't even the King of Belgium, he's King of the Belgians. The country doesn't have a king but the people do? What's that about?
posted by No Mutant Enemy at 11:45 AM on December 14, 2006


This post and thread is offensive! How dare you use such language! B*****m should be banned from use on the Internet rather than risk offending those of a delicate sensibility!

Zarking hell, people! Have some decency!
posted by SansPoint at 12:33 PM on December 14, 2006


Doesn't make any sense as a single state anyway.
posted by spaltavian at 12:49 PM on December 14, 2006


Belgians unamused by mock report on dissolution. NYT link, reg reqd.
posted by lalochezia at 2:16 PM on December 14, 2006


EndsofInvention, I'd say it's more like "Bye-diddly-oh, Belgiarinos!"
posted by Partial Law at 2:56 PM on December 14, 2006


I just like saying "Walloons."
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 2:57 PM on December 14, 2006


France can annex Wallonia

Ha! As if France wants those waffle-eaters!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:14 PM on December 14, 2006


But what about the beer?

Won't someone think of the beer?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:35 PM on December 14, 2006


*thinks of the beer*

Mmmm, beer.
posted by jonmc at 7:42 PM on December 14, 2006


imagine if this prank had been played on the current-day population of the US of A...

It would be equivalent to yelling "fire!" in a crowded theater. Broadcast licenses would be revoked, and somebody would be sent to prison — and that would be exactly right. I agree with the spokesman who said this was unacceptably irresponsible behavior from a public television network.
posted by cribcage at 9:42 PM on December 14, 2006


Greetings from Brussels.

This was a wonderful practical joke. I'm sure heads are going to roll, but well done. It hit squarely in the sore spot of this delightful, if bizarre nation.

I think of Belgium as Rwanda with an economy. It is hard to overstate the obsession with language and the cultural apartheid here.

I live in a dual language commune and we pay extra taxes for this. but all our bills arrive in Flemish and if we speak to the local council, gas company, bank, telecoms in French the phone gets slammed down on us.

We haven't paid council tax for three years because we rang them and asked for the bill in French, which they are legally obligated to do. End result, we haven't received a bill for three years

Recently our TV company announced a switch to digital. My partner rang them on 3 occasions asking, in French, for instructions on how to buy a digital decoder. Three times she got the phone put down on her.

Then I rang in English and got all the information given by a very helpful chap right away.

Actually there are three national languages, the other is German, but if there is one thing that unites the Wallonian and flemish communities it's a strong dislike of anything German.

Finally, for ob in Holland most people assume that I'm Belgian....

That's not a compliment btw.
posted by quarsan at 10:53 PM on December 14, 2006


Belgium? That's near China right?
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 3:30 AM on December 15, 2006


Belgium? That's near China right?

no, it's near chives and paisley, right next to the brussel sprouts
posted by pyramid termite at 6:33 AM on December 15, 2006


Well, to be fair, you're talking (mostly) to Americans. We hang up on French people, too.
posted by cribcage at 9:18 AM on December 15, 2006


That's not a compliment btw.
posted by quarsan at 1:53 AM EST on December 15


Oh, I'm well aware of that... My Dutch friends think it's hilarious...
posted by ob at 12:11 PM on December 15, 2006


Ob, I'll second your father. Belgium rocks!!

I don't really understand why people would think the country is a dump if they have ever spent time there.

Brussels is one of the coolest cities in the world.

Quarsan, it is interesting that you say Belgium is like Rwanda with an economy. I did a student internship in Brussels and I thought the same thing.

But, all in all, its a great place.

Above all, the music scene and the nightlife rocks. Way beyond anything here in the US.
posted by pwedza at 9:21 PM on December 15, 2006


Belgium is great and Brussels is a fantastic city. Any nation that would build the Atomium has to be applauded.

When the two communities merge it is at it's best. As the slogan says about Belgian cuisine: French food, Dutch portions.
posted by quarsan at 12:16 AM on December 16, 2006


Yeah, any place that makes such fine beer gets my approval!
posted by ob at 12:11 PM on December 16, 2006


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