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'Slant eyes' video angers Dutch Chinese

A Dutch carnival song poking fun at slanted eyes is irritating Dutch citizens of Chinese descent. The song and accompanying video clip are felt to be discriminatory. Others try to cast a positive light on the fact that the singers cannot find anything wrong with the Chinese, except the way they look.

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"A Chinese" is the name of the controversial carnival song by Dutch duo Anita and Ed. Dutch-Chinese author Lulu Wang says the songs is discriminatory, but at the same time 'a compliment' to the Chinese in the Netherlands. 

 

Provocative lyrics

"A Chinese sees only half our world, because his little eyes are almost completely shut.
We don’t mean anything by saying that, but it looks funny.
A Chinese cannot see what’s above or below, in fact, he sees everything through a slit. 
But you’ve got to believe me: he takes a pretty ‘broad’ view of most things."

With these provocative lyrics, Anita and Ed, primarily popular in their home province of Zeeland, hope the song will become a hit in the period leading up to the carnival season. Ed says the song is absolutely not racist or discriminatory.

Dutch impotence
Dutch-Chinese author Lulu Wang disagrees, but argues that the song reflects Dutch feelings of impotence toward the Chinese in the Netherlands, who are doing increasingly well:

"If 'slant eyes' is the best they can come up with to tease or insult Chinese, well... in a sense this is actually a positive thing, because they cannot say that Chinese are not smart, do not work hard or are unsuccessful. All Anita and Ed can come up with is physical traits that Chinese people are born with. To me, that indicates a sense of impotence.”

Angry
However, at Chinese-Indonesian restaurant Kota Radja in Terneuzen, the staff are less than amused. The manager, Ms Hong, told Radio Netherlands Worldwide, "I have not heard it yet, but of course I’m angry." 

But Ms Wang says Chinese people in the Netherlands should not get all worked up over the song: "It’s a carnival song after all. You know what the carnival season is like. And it’s really a compliment to the Chinese that some people should feel the need to mock them." Ms Wang adds that she does not expect the Chinese authorities to object to the song once they read the lyrics, "The Chinese are so self-confident these days that they would simply disregard it."

'Peanut Chinese'
In days gone by, the Church and other well-known leaders were mocked during the carnival season, according to Wang. It seems that the descendants of the 'peanut Chinese' (the Dutch slang term for the first generation of Chinese immigrants in the Netherlands who often peddled peanut bars and sugar-coated peanuts) have become so successful that they are now the objects of carnival mockery.
 

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This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011 Dutch government’s decided to cut funding and shift RNW in 2013 from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW’s current activities can be found at http://www.rnw.org/about-rnw