Bye Bye Belgium: remediating Flemish nationalism in prime time

This article discusses the special news bulletin on the imminent and unilateral declaration of independence of the Flemish Republic that was aired on the Belgian francophone public broadcasting service (RTBF) in December 2006. Following in the wake of 90+years of Flemish nationalism often tinged with separatism and overshadowed by a history of fascist collaboration during World War II, moreover broadcast in the immediate context of a Belgian state paralysed by petty territorial disputes, the disturbingly plausible docu-fiction Tout ça (ne nous rendra pas la Belgique), which was later titled Bye Bye Belgium, gave the viewing public a bitter taste of the power of Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin's remediation-concept. Termed an adaptation of sorts ‘designed to erase its own traces’ (Bolter and Grusin 2000), remediation in broad terms implies the repurposing of signifiers and signifying systems into a new, presumably coherent narrative. Philippe Dutilleul, the creator of Bye Bye Belgium, for one, had been accused from various parts in Flanders and Wallonia alike of polarising the political debate and accelerating a psychological acceptance of the country's imminent doom on both sides of its linguistic border. Accordingly, a closer look at the parallel machineries of narrativisation, adaptation and remediation should thereby prove pertinent. After all, remediating a history of nationalist tensions with the willing participation of right-wing Flemish political leaders in prime time on the broadest public platform available in this instance did not fail to make an impact.