Friday, January 14, 2011

Underthinking a Bearded Belgium

Well perusing stuff I came across the following story http://www.stuff.co.nz/oddstuff/4537218/Hair-brained-protest-idea
Its an interesting story about how a Belgian actor wants his fellow countrymen to grow beards in protest of the lack of government in Belgium. At first I was going to make the assumption male countrymen but then....


"I am a ginger woman with a beard and you are worried about my HAT?!"
Anyway, that is beside the point and if like me your knowledge of Belgium is somewhat limited then you may be wondering why can't they come up with a government.

What I know about Belgium

Well I did a little research and it turns out rather than one unified country it can be defined into 4 distinct regions, the Flemish speaking region of Flanders, the French speaking region of Wallonia, Brussels the capital which is multilingual, and this tiny place no one really cares about where they speak German or Elfish or Klingon or something but like I said no one really cares.

Belgium Divided. Note the German speaking region in Blue near the arse end of the country.
Anyway this divide keeps a government from forming as there is so much conflict, in fact some people are suggesting the country may split. The Politics of Belgium: Governing a Divided Society (Comparative Government and Politics)

The story though focuses on Benoit Poelvoorde a famous Belgian actor apparently, the only movie that meant anything to me was a live action Asterix film where Benoit played  a Roman Centurion. Live action Obliex looks somewhat more misshapen than I remember...

"Obliex, did you eat the three-course-meal gum?"
Anyway as said at the start, Benoit is urging his countrymen to grow beards in support of a government forming in Belgium. Now I looked up this guy and he has a scruffy looking beard anyway, I at first wondered if perhaps this was just some sort of scam to bring beards back into fashion, so his wife would let him keep it.

"I am telling you Mary beards are making a comeback"
But a little look closer at Belgium history, King Leopold II had a mighty beard of power, and he ruled a united Belgium. Perhaps Benoit is drawing attention to this history by bring back the beard, although Benoit has a long way to reach the Majesty of Leopold's Beard.

King Leopold II liked to wear his sash to remind people he once won the 1845 "Mr Bearded Belgium" Title.

I mean the King Leopold II's beard was the only connection I could get between growing beards and unifying Belgium (or at least forming a government). I was racking my brains facial hair and a unified Belgium, what was the connection?? I couldn't figure it out, I was just about to give up completely, when I took one last look at the photo of Belgium divided I showed you at the start of this post, and I noticed something I hadn't seen before.......

A bearded Belgium is a together Belgium

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