Wednesday, August 10, 2005

American Jokes About France Are One More Element Used to Prove French Superiority Over Those Clueless Yanks

During the Iraq crisis, it became common in France to read and hear about jokes about French cowardice, back-stabbing, and/or lack of gratitude making the rounds of the American heartland.

What was interesting (or disgusting) was how the French chose to report this batch of jokes. They make it sound as if, say, Jay Leno is some kind of patriotic newscaster, sprinkling his nationalistic speeches with jokes about the ennemi du jour.

That, needless to say, is a total deformation of reality. David Letterman, the cast of Saturday Night Live, and people of their ilk make jokes about everything, especially about domestic issues, from the election and leaders of both parties to (yes) George W Bush (or whoever is in the White House) and his administration, but also every element of foreign policy, from the Iraq war and the war on terrorism to Osama bin Laden and Abu Ghraib through the failure to find WMD!

Frank P Hart adds that Leno "is a great comedian precisely because there are no sacred cows for him — everyone is a target and nobody is spared." As for the difference between a late-night TV show and, say, Les Guignols, is that in the former, there's "a grain of truth — which is what makes it really funny — but the bottom line is that it's done for yuks, not as a policy statement." Jay joins in: "If Leno were french, his monologue would be non-stop Bush jokes, funny or not".

But if the late-night shows had been presented as they really were/are (and indeed, if the vast majority of American TV stations and their news shows had been shown as they really were/are, i.e., with the singular exception of Fox News, universally critical of Bush and the Iraq war), they could not have been turned into grist for the French mill mass-producing out images of masses of clueless American clods mindlessly following the every word of their retrograde patriotic leaders. No, this perception allowed them to shake their heads, tch-tch, and haughtily laugh the joke-telling off, and its self-serving nature ensured that this was the way that the view of the "event" would endure (as this example over than two years later testifies to).

What this tells us is that the French base their biased (self-serving) opinions on biased (self-serving) reporting in their own press which reflects the biased (self-serving) thinking of the members of their élite, and that all of the above think that the French should get a free pass, and be exempt from humor (at least, foreign humor) that puts the underlying "reasonable", "objective", "unemotional", "humanistic" nature of their policies into question...

In other words, French society as a whole — which supposedly loves to debate — has collectively pre-empted any soul-searching of their own policies (at least not beyond a certain line)…

Plus de pensées sur l'humour américain ici…

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