Friday, December 15, 2006

Belgium's "War of the Worlds"

Not particularly important, but kind of funny.

State television broke into regular programming late Wednesday with an urgent bulletin: The Dutch-speaking half of the country had declared independence and the king and queen had fled. Grainy pictures from the military airport showed dark silhouettes of a royal entourage boarding a plane.

Only after a half-hour did the station flash the message: "This is fiction."

It was too late. Many Belgians had already fallen for the hoax.

Frantic viewers flooded the call center of RTBF, the station that aired the stunt. Embassies called Belgian authorities to find out what was going on, while foreign journalists scrambled to get confirmation.

The network said it was merely trying to demonstrate the importance of debate on the future of Belgium, which harbors several linguistic and cultural divides. But most people were not amused.

I was, though.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Considering you lived there prior to the autonomy that was negotiated in the 80's, you can probably imagine why some people belived it was plausible.

I have to agree it's amusing, but the station has a point. The subject is one of those issues that everyone is aware of and no one talks about. Bringing it into the open is like making a joke of a relative's drinking problem - it's considered bad taste because no one wants to deal with it.

I wonder if such a stunt would work in Quebec? ....

Peace,

Matt

12/25/2006 6:13 AM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Yeah, but I lived in the Flemish region, which is a whole different divide.

A good hoax must be plausible, and there are plenty of fractures within Belgium -- or Canada, as you point out -- that could be harnessed for such a purpose.

But while the station may have a point, I seriously doubt they staged the hoax as a high-minded exercise in political discourse.

12/29/2006 10:08 AM  

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