Dutch film Only Decent People

After nearly a year of debate, the film adaptation of Robert Vuijsje’s controversial novel Alleen Maar Nette Mensen (Only Decent People) is gearing up to his theaters in the Netherlands next month.

The book follows a well-off Jewish college student who realizes he has “craving for black beauties with huge boobs and bum.” The young man decides to ditch his girlfriend and find the curvaceous black woman of his dreams.

Some in the Netherlands’ black community called the novel racist because they felt it negatively portrayed black women as hyper-sexual, while others argued that the on-screen depictions were accurate for some women so they weren’t actually offensive.

The blog AfroEurope adds more context:

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.

In light of the conversations sparked throughout Amsterdam following the release of the novel, the film version is sure to ruffle some feathers..

Shadow and Act shares the official synopsis:

ONLY DECENT PEOPLE is a Dutch comedy based on the controversial bestseller by Robert Vuijsje. Starring Geza Weisz, Imanuelle Grives, Annet Malherbe & Jeroen Krabbe. David Samuels is from an intellectual Jewish family from the posh Amsterdam Old South, where he is often mistaken as Moroccan because of his dark hair. David is a remarkable man on a mission: to find a ghetto fabulous queen with great tits and thick buttocks. His parents and friends declare him mad, but David continues unabated. His search leads him to the Bijlmer, where, after some wild adventures he is left disappointed. Will David ever find his ideal woman – a large, dark sex goddess with booty and brains?

While I watched the trailer, I couldn’t help but wonder if our culture–which often exports the worst images of black folks around the globe–is partially to blame for films such as these.

Though gross stereotyping and racism may be at play here, I can’t ignore the hyper-sexualized and extremely ignorant images coming out of rap music and reality TV that are beamed around the world at lightening speed, while more positive (and dare I say, “normal”) images of black women barely get noticed.

And while some may discount the potency of such images, I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met from other countries who thought the majority of African Americans were either trying to get put on as a rapper, deeply ensconced in street life, or working on their third baby daddy. It’s extremely troubling.

Whether this film will further the conversation on race and racism in the Netherlands remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: Europe has a contentious relationship with black women.

From the Dutch magazine calling Rihanna the “Ultimate N*ggsBitch” to the Spanish glossy superimposing First Lady Michelle Obama’s head on the body of a half-naked slave, Europe’s view of black women has a long way to go.


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