Thursday, January 10, 2008

We watched a lot of films over the holidays. Some were old holiday favourites, like “Christmas in Connecticutand “White Christmas”. I love old films: snappy dialogue, elegant clothes and lots of great music. In newer films, obscenities seem to take the place of witty banter. Fred and Ginger are replaced by pole dancers. I know there are good new films out there, but there is so much trash!
And I have another complaint: One night we watched
Next, a sci-fi/action film with Nick Cage. The cardboard cut-out bad guy terrorists Hating Our American Freedom and hell bent on blowing up California were a bunch of … French people! The next night was Spiderman 3. When Peter Parker went to a fancy restaurant to impress his sweetie, who was there to greet him? The ever-popular Snotty French Waiter with a Silly Accent. The next night, we watched The Matrix Reloaded. Who’s the bad guy? The Frenchman- yet another arrogant greasy-haired snot with a ridiculous accent and an oversexed girlfriend.

It was getting to be kind of a theme. The next day, I wrote to my fave email pal, Babzee:

My kids found it all pretty strange. "What's up with that?" they asked. I joked that many Americans must have an inferiority complex vis à vis the French and Hollywood tries to prop up their sad little egos by making French people in films ALWAYS be the 1. snotty waiters and/or 2. evil bad-guys.
Severin said "So, one half of me secretly hates the other half?" and he pretended to choke himself, falling to the ground.”

Babzee quickly wrote back with a more thought-out answer to the question. Her answer is much better than the silly one I gave the kids:
“I haven't seen Next but I remember the ads for it. Not crazy about Nick Cage (but ConAir is a fave). I think there's even more to your psychoanalysis of the American (trash) filmmaker: the French represent the most "foreign" a movie enemy can get without involving race and (real) politics. We used to use the Germans but the stereotype is virtually exhausted now (particularly after the Die Hard series) and the World Wars were a long time ago. "Arabs" (describing everyone from Pakistan to Morocco) are too tough a target right now, unless an undefined zealotry and no dialogue are part of the story), Asians get their own genre. That leaves (as far as Yanks are concerned) Italy (mobbed-up), Russians (we have no idea if there are still Russians, weren't they all retired in 1991?), Balkans (Jack Bauer did it on 24), and Spain, which we really can't tell apart from Mexico. The rest of Europe is France, right?

I saw a movie on TV in which they explained Jean-Claude van Damme's Belgian accent by saying he was from Canada. I love Severin.”

Thanks to Ms. B! She said all I wanted to say and did it better, in the bargain.

1 comment:

babzee said...

I'm waiting for my combined Chocolate Cherry/Vanilla Bean coffee to brew and reading my own words in my dearest friend's blog. The puppy is NOT biting my feet (like THAT will last) and all is right with the world. Well, it is in this room.

I bonded with Ze Franch in 5th grade when I played Sophie in "Christmas Around the World". (This followed my triumphs as Mrs Rip van Winkle and Dr. Doolittle's sister.) Sophie has to say "ze creche! ze creche!" but the boy playing my brother got all the laughs with his inability to pronounce "voila".