Tuesday, 22 June 2010

"Ihr seid nicht die Mehrheit"

Jan Salloch,  director of the Berlin gay pride festival  ("Berliner CSD"),  does not seem to be a bad man as such,  but he did demonstrate extremely poor choice of words after Judith Butler refused a  "Civil Courage"  award at the Berlin pride festival last Saturday.  His not-so-bon mots start at 5:35 in the clip below  (apologies for the poor subtitles,  nothing to do with me;  there is a much better English version of Judith Butler's part by  10toes10fingers in the comments on the youtube page,  which you can access by double-clicking the video):

My translation of Salloch's bit:

Without question,  we must say that as the Berliner CSD we vehemently reject  -  and I personally find it very hurtful  -  the accusation of racism.  It is simply not true.  And you can scream as loud as you like,  that's simply how it is  –  because,  to be honest,  you are not the majority here.  You - are - not - the - majority.  [much booing from protesters]  To be quite honest  -  quite honest  -  we have  -  as we will always continue to do in the future  -  reached out our hands to you and will work together with you;  the problem is  [waves hand towards group of protesters]  that is clearly not desired.  However that may be,  we are going to simply go on with our programme. 
[in German even more clearly than in English,  "programme" ("Programm")  means not only the line-up or schedule of a show/presentation,  but also the political agenda of a political party or movement.]

Could he hear himself??  "You are not the majority"  –  so we're going to ignore you and your concerns and what you are fighting for,  and we're going to go right on doing what we've always done,  and you can fuck off.

Not so many years ago,  there was another minority which was ignored by the majority,  and they had to make a lot of noise and fight a hell of a lot before anyone cared about their needs at all.

Can it be that this guy has forgotten all that already??

Update: Thanks to Anonymous in the comments for the word  "gekränkt",  which I've translated above with "find hurtful";  I myself couldn't make out what he was saying there.  The subtitler heard it as  "bedrängt",  which would mean  "under pressure"  or  "hassled"  (translated bizarrely in the subtitles as  "whipsawed")  but that didn't seem quite right.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Viel Lärm um Nichts

Much of the German press  -  or at least that part of it visible on the internet  -  is in uproar today about the TERRIBLE harm the vuvuzela is doing to the atmosphere of this year's World Cup.  The top story at Der Spiegel right now is  "Viel Lärm um Nichts"  (i.e.   "much noise about nothing");  there's an almost identical but even sharper-tongued polemic-masquerading-as-journalism heading the page of Berlin's Tagesspiegel;  and of course Bild is not going to be outdone:

Distraction for the players,  unfair advantage to the African teams [one word:  earplugs],  the death of the stadium atmosphere, horrible irritation for viewers around the world,  oh oh oh end of the world as we know it should have been banned but everyone's too afraid of being called  "racist"  yet how absurd to claim it's their  "culture"  because only just imported from America grumble grr hissy.

And in all these articles none of them seem to suspect for a moment that it might just be them  -  or at least that they might possibly be a tad more sensitive to it than a lot of other nations.  I've just gone through quite a number of British,  French and even Australian news sites.  Result:  nothing.  Not a single murmur of protest to be found.  Not even among the usual suspects like the UK's Sun or Daily Mail. 

It doesn't really surprise me because a couple of weeks ago I read  -  and translated  -  a rather more sympathetic German take on the African stadium sound:

-  And did the fans in the stadium have their vuvuzela trumpets with them,  which have become so famous since the Confederations Cup?
-  Of course!  Even at games with maybe just 20,000 spectators in a stadium for 50,000,  it generated an unbelievable atmosphere,  as if 100,000 fans were there.  It was a constant droning and roaring in the stands,  just brilliant.  It might seem a bit more annoying on television,  but in the stadium it's really amazing.  The Bundesliga in Germany is a total contrast.  Shortly before our departure I was able to go to a Hamburger SV match.  If there's not so much happening on the pitch at a particular point in time,  then the spectators are simply quiet.  Only when the ball gets close to the penalty area does it get a bit louder.  In Africa it's ninety minutes of non-stop noise.

Aha,  alles klar. Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh,  in allen Wipfeln spürest du
kaum einen Hauch;  die Vögelein schweigen im Walde...  or at least until a squirrel kicks the acorn into the corner of the hollow trunk,  presumably.

(To their credit,  some of the German newspeople seem to have kept their cultural sensitivities in check,  so far at least:  I can't find any objections being raised at www.taz.de,  www.sueddeutsche.de,  or even at www.faz.de.  Except in the reader comments sections, but let's just not go there...)

PS:  The sound the vuvuzelas make on the tv broadcasts is EXACTLY the same as a bunch of blowflies flying around.  People watching in outback Australia probably haven't even noticed it.  Either that or they keep getting up to find out who left the screen door open.