Holland: Come For the Tits, Stay For the Gays Kissing

|

…Or if you prefer, come for the gays kissing and stay for the pot. Whatever your bag is, though, you'll have to watch a movie of Low Countries Spice before you can immigrate to the Netherlands:

The camera focuses on two gay men kissing in a park. Later, a topless woman emerges from the sea and walks onto a crowded beach. For would-be immigrants to the Netherlands, this film is a test of their readiness to participate in the liberal Dutch culture.

If they can't stomach it, no need to apply.

Despite whether they find the film offensive, applicants must buy a copy and watch it if they hope to pass the Netherlands' new entrance examination.

"If only the INS* were so enlightened," says reader Charles Bilodeau. Actually, I wouldn't want to be the viewer who has to watch whatever civic integration film the U.S. government would come up with to show our country's freewheeling side, but the Dutch picture raises a more interesting question than just "Where are the wooden shoes?" It's a pretty strong refutation of Stanley Fish's claim that liberals lack confidence in their own beliefs. Here's a whole country projecting a national image based on tolerance for liberal behavior—which admittedly is not a great stretch given Dutch history. But it's one thing to brag about tolerance toward religious dissenters hundreds of years ago, and something else to make it a point of pride to be on the liberal side of what are still radioactive cultural issues—and to send the implicit "like it or lump it" message to people who want to immigrate. "The film shows you how people live in the Netherlands," the website for Coming to the Netherlands says. "Some things that are quite ordinary and acceptable in the Netherlands are forbidden in other countries. For example, in the Netherlands women are allowed to sunbathe on the beach with few clothes on, and people have the freedom of expression to show that they are homosexuals or lesbians. The film includes images of this."

Unfortunately, that's a preamble to the news that you can order an edited version of the film if you live in Iran—which kind of defeats the purpose.

* Of course, Charles meant to say "CIS, ICE, and/or CBP."

NEXT: Deadline Approaches for Reason's Summer Internship

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. How many US conservatives will latch onto it as a great example of western liberalism? How many of those same US conservatives will use it to lambast the aspects of western liberalism they despise?

  2. I was with them until the last sentence.

  3. Not the whole story

    Westereners do not have to see this movie. Free pass.

    It smells of a smoke screen to the real purpose: keep arabic and african people out. Oh, and the russians and chinese

  4. It’s a pretty strong refutation of Stanley Fish’s claim that liberals lack confidence in their own beliefs.

    Perhaps, but as you know, Dutch politics doesn’t always run along the same ideological lines as American politics. You only have to look at Pim Fortuyn, who combined “liberal” attitudes towards marijuana, prostitution, gay rights, and teen sex with “conservative” attitudes on economic policy and immigration.

  5. Frankvb,
    If you think a film like that would keep out Russians, you don’t know Russians very well. I suspect most Chinese wouldn’t be that freaked out either.

  6. This reminds me of Penn Jillette’s solution to the problem of hijackers:

    “You know, we have the solution on how to do all the security: Have a man and woman at each gate leading to the airplane strip. They?re stripped from the waist down, and every passenger has to lean over and lightly kiss the genitals of the person of the same sex and then have a piece of bacon. And all hijacking just goes away.

    “You don?t have to actually have any sexual contact. Just enough so that anybody that has the sexual phobias of the Abrahamic religions [Judaism, Christianity, and Islam] has to violate that deeply. You probably don?t have to pay the two people; they would probably think it was a cool, fun thing to do. You just barely touch your lips with the genitals?just like that?and you have a little piece of bacon and you get on the plane. There?s no searching your luggage. No nothing. We?re all set.”

    It’s funny as hell, but it’s just *wrong* 🙂

  7. It smells of a smoke screen to the real purpose: keep arabic and african people out. Oh, and the russians and chinese

    Except that many of the immigrants I know came to America precisely because being gay (for example) makes them unwelcome or unsafe in their own countries. Maybe the Netherlands just wants to keep out violent, bigoted sociopaths – or at least warn them what they’re in for – which is understandable given recent history.

    skilled workers who earn more than $54,000 per year will not be required to take the 30-minute computerized exam.

    …huh? I don’t get that.

  8. “Holland: Come For the Tits, Stay For the Gays Kissing”

    I think the Netherlands Ministry of Tourism would be wise to adopt this slogan. That and the Reason Shamrock girl, of course.

  9. Tying in to the previous story on FCC censorship, that video requirement would exclude a sizeable percentage of Americans. Considering what Brent Bozell and his ilk have done, that not that bad of an idea.

    I shudder to think of a corresponding video intro done by the PTC types:

    The camera focuses on a modestly dressed couple reading the Bible together in a park. Later, an enraged woman appears in front of Congress and demands an extensive investigation of racy content in Shrek. For would-be immigrants to the United States, this film is a test of their readiness to participate in the conservate red-state culture.

  10. Is this really the kind of thing libertarians can support; an ideological test to enter the country?

  11. It isn’t locking up or kicking out people that are currently in the country. It just says “Hey, we don’t really give a shit if people do these things, if you do our country probably isn’t the kind of place that you would like,” seems reasonable to me. Less a test, more of a warning. They don’t ask “Is two guys kissing/a topless girl okay with you?” and then deny you entry if you say no.

  12. There are some major exemptions. EU nationals, asylum-seekers and skilled workers who earn more than $54,000 per year will not be required to take the 30-minute computerized exam.

    Also, citizens of the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and Switzerland are exempt.

    well so much for the Netherlands being a “liberal” democracy.

    *liberal meaning equal under the law.

  13. Looking at joshua’s quotes, it seems like this exam is meant to keep out people who aren’t Westerners, or Westernized. Maybe that is a good strategy if you think you are in the middle of a war between Western liberalism and Islamic radicalism, but it’s not exactly “liberal” or “libertarian.”

  14. Come to the Cabaret!

  15. Actually, dutch politics on this issue are a very mixed bag. Most measures taken to regulate immigration are meant to implement hurdles i.e. make it take longer to get in. Most discussion in the press circles round the assumption that immigration numbers should be limited. Although the hurdles seem effective, it could have been easier just to set a quota. But that’s just methinks. A quota would also be easier to adjust if a special need arises. A

    nd the income limit is a reflection of the poverty-related issues which are tightly linked to “integration” issues because many immigrants are relatively poor. (Maybe the dutch don’t have an immigration problem after all?)

    At the same time, the governement’s care seems to stop once you are inside. As I recall (I live in Holland), these measures are established after very loud discussions concerning immigrants who ALREADY LIVE IN HOLLAND. Real integration seems to be a remote goal, mostly hindered by dutch attitudes. (Please note that some of these attitudes may stem from real observations or assumptions).

    Anyways, European treaties require free traffic of persons, labour, capital and services between member states. Switzerland, US, NZ/Australia have similar treaties. No justification, but an explanation of the differences.

  16. mitch, I take the point that an ideological purity test for immigrants is troublesome (the comment about INS enlightenment quoted in the post was meant at least slightly ironically), but is it unwise to check out potential immigrants for their tolerance to ‘liberal’ images? This is probably especially true for the Netherlands, where they have movies on regular TV that the Family Foundation (or whomever) would probably consider “pornography”.

    To JR’s point, not so much a ‘do you agree with this’ litmus test as ‘would seeing this make you freak out and try to kill people’ test. Does the Netherlands (or indeed, the US) want anymore shitbags like the one who murdered Theo van Gogh? If it’s exclusionary to try to weed out idiots who counter speech they don’t like with violence, I’m all for exclusion.

    To add to Vanya’s point, as for Africans having an issue with this, my sister in law is from Ghana, and from what I hear from her, she’d view this film in a second if it sped up her citizenship ordeal.

  17. Mr. Jillette’s suggestion has the additional benefit of keeping vegetarians from getting around much. Gotta love that.

    -jcr

  18. Mr. Jillette’s suggestion has the additional benefit of keeping vegetarians from getting around much. Gotta love that.

    -jcr

  19. I hope that someone freshly sworn in as a citizen turned to the authorities and said “okay, that’s done, now make with the tits.”

  20. I’m guessing that they’ve decided that bigoted people who have educations/jobs are far less likely to cause trouble than uneducated/unemployed bigots.

    I can see it, I guess.

  21. I can do that film one better. I have video clips of women who are topless AND kissing on my computer at home.

    Of course, this is all for the sake of tolerance and inclusiveness. Call me open-minded.

  22. Not a problem for me. I use the same criteria for dinner parties. Invitees must first watch a movie, although citizens of the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and Switzerland are exempt.

  23. I want to go to Amsterdam! I think my career could go far there. Who wants to take me?

  24. pish.

    I am so enlightened that I routinely watch videos of women exploring their sexuality with each other on teh internets.

    But does NOW gove me any recognition whatsoever?

    Sadly, they do not.

  25. I agree Americans should have to view the film and take the test-and not only because a large percentage of Americans would be deterred by the content. But this is not a matter of equality under the law. They’re not putting in an immigration quota, just letting people from a problem culture know what things are like in their land before they extend their hospitality. Part of maintaining an open society is recognizing that the open society has its enemies. (Where have I heard that one?)

  26. I wouldn’t want to be the viewer who has to watch whatever civic integration film the U.S. government would come up with to show our country’s freewheeling side

    Hollywood already does the advance work on that one, anyway. The whole world knows what goes on in the USA from our movies & TV shows we export.

  27. I believe Iraq has a similar policy.
    Immigrants should expect mayhem.
    And yes, Americans are exempt.

  28. “The whole world knows what goes on in the USA from our movies & TV shows we export.”

    the only really fun thing about this is that when visiting other countries, you can be greeted by a surprised handshake and a hearty “why, i had no idea you were an american – you didn’t shoot me or kill me in the name of jesus. how delightful!”

  29. Regarging “westerners getting a free pass” – immigration proof of eligibility requirements have never ever been uniform or symmetrical. An Iranian who wants to visit Amsterdam has to jump thru’ all kinds of hoops, an american just lands there with a valid passport. I suspect this is true in one form or another for every nation in the world.

  30. Only one commenter caught the fact that people from the most repressive countries get a free pass on the unedited video. Maybe you think the bad Iranians will get sufficiently freaked out by Dutch women without veils, but if the Dutch were clever, they’d use this to keep all the fundies out.

  31. As someone above mentioned, the social issues are very complicated in Holland. The ‘right-wing’ politician who was murdered last year by a Muslim fundamentalist was ‘right-wing’ in the sense that he opposed free immigration of Muslim fundamentalists. Why? Because he was openly gay, and thought a majority of religious fundamentalists would be likely to restrict his freedom.

  32. Geoff, in what alternate universe was a gay Dutch politician murdered by a Muslim fundamentalist last year?

  33. in what alternate universe was a gay Dutch politician murdered by a Muslim fundamentalist last year

    I guess where “last year” = “4 years ago”. I know – time flies.

  34. I guess where “last year” = “4 years ago”. I know – time flies.

    And where the poltician murdered by a Muslim fundamentalist four years ago is confused with a filmmaker murdered by a Muslim fundamentalist last year. In any event, you don’t need to go to an alternate universe to find prominent Dutch people who have been murdered by Muslim fundamentalists.

  35. I imagine that there’d be more murdered Dutch pols if they weren’t in hiding (from the Muslim fundamentalists).

  36. Actually, Fortuyn was killed by a lefty animal-rights loonie, though the guy did say at his trial that he was disturbed by Fortuyn’s rhetoric about Muslim immigration.

    Regarding the broader debate about assimilating immigrants from cultures where some illiberal values hold sway, I think the real litmus test often isn’t how well the immigrants themselves assimilate, but how well their kids do. Speaking from personal experience, I think it’s often unreasonable to expect individuals who were born and raised in a deeply alien land to fully embrace the cultural milieu of their new homeland, though you should expect them to at least tolerate it. On the other hand, if their children, who were mostly or fully born and raised in the new country, often think and believe like the ones living in the old, then you have a problem on your hands.

    And that’s what’s really unsettling about Europe’s difficulties in assimilating its Muslim immigrants. Not that immigrants fresh off the boat (or plane) harbor an unease with or dislike of the liberal attitudes that the encounter, but that characters like Theo van Gogh’s assassin, who have been immersed in them since childhood, do so.

  37. how many of you who don’t see a problem with this requirement will flip out if the INS required immigrants to pass TOEFL?

  38. >how many of you who don’t see a problem with this requirement will flip out if the INS required immigrants to pass TOEFL?

    I don’t see any problem with that at all. Unless the immigrant already has a job offer.

  39. On the other hand, if their children, who were mostly or fully born and raised in the new country, often think and believe like the ones living in the old, then you have a problem on your hands.

    The problem isn’t that the kids think and believe like the ones living in the old country, but that they think and believe like they imagine people think and believe in the old country. I don’t know about South Asians, but I know plenty of Arabs or first-generation Arab Americans who rarely if ever go back to the origin nation, and no group of people has a more static notion of the home culture, or is less willing to admit that the Arab countries are changing just like every other country (faster, actually). This is a fairly typical assimilation pattern: The parents come over having made the decision to live as citizens in the new country, then the kids, not facing the pressure of settlement and wanting to find an identity for themselves, attach themselves to some fantasy of their nationality. All of this becomes massively more complicated when the mainstream of the new country is hostile to the immigrants’ nationality, or when the parents themselves come over with a bad attitude about the adoptive country-both of which seem to be applicable in various European contexts.

  40. The problem isn’t that the kids think and believe like the ones living in the old country, but that they think and believe like they imagine people think and believe in the old country.

    Yeah, it does look like there’s some idealization mixed in with the imitation. In a sense, I guess it’s not too different from how Islamists in the home countries idealize the past.

    I don’t know about South Asians, but I know plenty of Arabs or first-generation Arab Americans who rarely if ever go back to the origin nation, and no group of people has a more static notion of the home culture, or is less willing to admit that the Arab countries are changing just like every other country (faster, actually).

    There’s definitely some of that among first-generation Indian immigrants as well, and I suppose it exists to a degree with most immigrant communities whose members hail from relatively alien cultures. But I think this poses a deeper problem with regards to assimilation when there’s a very steep cultural gradient to climb, as there arguably is for many Arabs.

    For example, I’ve gotten the impression that there are more cases of post-1st generation Indian immigrants having trouble assimilating, and subsequently clinging to a dated and idealized notion of their cultural identity, in the UK than in the US. This probably has something to do with the fact that the former country started seeing large numbers of Indian immigrate more than a generation before the latter, at a time when Indian cultural attitudes were more conservative and moribund.

    On the flip side, I think Bollywood movies and – more recently – satellite TV channels have gone some ways towards showing a lot of 1st-generation immigrants that the culture in their homeland isn’t static. I’m curious as to how much the Arab immigrants you’re in contact with are exposed to modern-day Arab pop culture.

    In the end, though, I think the problem with assimilating Arab immigrants in Europe has a lot to do with the two issues cited in your last sentence: A lot of continental Europeans have a conception of national identity that makes it impossible for them to fully accept those belonging to a different ethnic group as fellow countrymen, and a lot of Muslim immigrants on the continent (who in aggregate are poorer and less-educated than their American counterparts) have taken something resembling an “all or nothing” mindset regarding their religious and cultural identity. Movies and trips home will have no effect on the former, and can only be part of the solution to dealing with the latter.

  41. Good for the Dutch. I find that I’ve gone from an open-borders type to really losing all sympathy with the idea that anyone has a right to come into any arbitrary country and live there.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.