Wendy van Dijk

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Wendy van Dijk

Wendy van Dijk (born 22 January 1971 in Weesp) is a Dutch actress and television presenter. She's best known for her portrayal as Ushi Hirosaki, a hapless Japanese journalist featured in both a series of Dutch television shows and a theatrical film. In 2006, Van Dijk was a contestant on Dancing On Ice. During the 2006/2007 season, she also hosted the Netherlands edition of X Factor.[1]

Ushi Hirosaki[edit]

Van Dijk first appeared as Ushi in the early 2000s in Gene & Ushi, a program that aired on the Dutch television channel SBS 6. While appearing as Ushi, the actress puts on makeup, glasses, wears a "buckteeth" dental appliance and conceals her blonde hair under a dark wig. Segments featuring Ushi typically consist of Borat-style pranks on international celebrities while Van Dijk pretends to be a reporter for Good Morning Tokyo, a fictional television show. Among those interviewed by Ushi: Adele, Donny Osmond, Geri Halliwell, Lionel Richie, Gino Vannelli, Shannen Doherty, Billy Crawford and La Toya Jackson.[2] The character's catchphrase is: "Solly, my Engrish is not so very bad!"

Ushi has inspired similar characters that have appeared on other television stations across Europe. Van Dijk appeared as Ushi again in Ushi Must Marry, a theatrical film released in the Netherlands on February 14, 2013.[3]

Controversy over Ushi[edit]

Ushi's mannerisms and personality are based on common Asian and Japanese stereotypes. Much like Zwarte Piet, a popular but controversial holiday character in the Netherlands, Ushi has been the subject of criticism.[4] Bloggers have derided Ushi and often describe her as a cruel and racist "yellowface" caricature.[5][6]

A review of Ushi Must Marry in the Dutch newspaper Het Parool drew further attention to the more controversial aspects of the character. "Then there are the racial stereotypes," wrote reviewer Mike Peek. "Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat makes you laugh at the people he approaches. His role is a cover. But in Ushi Must Marry the characters themselves are the main source of humor. Who laughs at a Japanese person unfamiliar with 'splaakgeblek,' especially in the year 2013?"[7]

NRC Handelsblad film critic André Waardenburg went even further and called the movie a "new low in Dutch film history."[8] Following its release in theaters, Ushi Must Marry was widely panned by other film critics and it also sparked a discussion about the continued popularity of racial caricatures in Dutch culture.[9]

Selected filmography[edit]

Film
Year Title Role Notes
2007 Alles is Liefde
2004 In Orange
2013 Ushi Must Marry

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Wendy van Dijk Biografie". Wendy van Dijk website. 2013. Retrieved January 17, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Ushi, Ushi!". Greetings From Holland. January 27, 2011. Retrieved January 17, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Ushi Must Marry Trailer". Film Totaal. 2012. Retrieved January 17, 2013. 
  4. ^ Brown, Todd (December 12, 2012). "Look at the Wacky White Lady Pretending to be Japanese". Twitch. Retrieved January 17, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Behold, the Awful, Racist Trailer for Ushi Must Marry". Angry Asian man. December 17, 2012. Retrieved January 17, 2013. 
  6. ^ Kaufman, Matt (February 18, 2011). "Ushi/Noriko/Ushi Heiku/Oumi". Kansai: Time Out. Retrieved January 17, 2013. 
  7. ^ Peek, Mike (February 13, 2013). "Ushi Must Marry: humor van bedenkelijk niveau". Parool. Retrieved February 14, 2013. 
  8. ^ Waardenburg, Andre (February 14, 2013). "Cheerful Weather For the Wedding". NRC. 
  9. ^ Haakman, David (February 15, 2013). "Ushi, net zo fout als Zwarte Piet – Waarom zwijgt Nederland?". NRC. Retrieved February 15, 2013. 

External links[edit]