Belgium Gets Its Own Political Meme

Not to be outdone by the Internet phenomenon sparked by Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” comment in the last presidential debate, a Belgian politician named Bart De Wever has coined one of his own.

De Wever, a Flemish Nationalist, recently won his race for mayor of Antwerp. His party would like to see the northern, Dutch-speaking part of the country (called Flanders) devolve even further away from the southern, French-speaking part, known as Wallonia. For more on Belgium’s complicated political and social structure, I recommend this.

Anyway, at his victory rally, De Wever tried to launch into his speech. But the DJ simply would not stop the music and let him talk. So, with the mic on, De Wever screamed in exasperation – “Zet die plaat af!” That’s a little piece of Antwerp dialect that essentially means, “turn the record off!” Record, as in vinyl. As in, those old discs that most of us don’t use anymore.

You can watch the exact moment when a meme was born:

Okay, maybe not so funny on the face of it. But a Belgian buddy of mine explained that here was De Wever, about to give a rousing victory speech in perfect Dutch, suddenly lapsing back into his Antwerp roots, back to “his popular beginnings.”

He was suddenly human. And funny.

And so Belgians from North and South alike have embraced “Zet die plaat af!” It’s been remixed into popular music tracks. It’s gotten the Downfall treatment.

And, as you can see at the top of this post, it fits quite nicely into Britain’s “Keep Calm” meme as well.

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