vendredi 12 août 2011

An American education

Hmmm ... France. What is there to say? The churches have been empty for years. The young are unemployed, hopeless. Marriage is dead, the best hetero relationship the daughters of that nation can hope for is a few years shacked up. The 'new Frenchman' will be what was formerly known as a 'North African' sooner, rather than later due to unbridled and uncontrolled immigration. The elderly are allowed to die off in droves due to a simple natural occurrence known as 'hot weather' during the summer. Four weeks of vacation, no drive to work in the populace. Retire on the State around 50.

Good cheese. Good wine.

How much of France do we wish to emulate??
Well Al Martino is a Francophile and it shows :-)   :-))   :-)))   Fair to say he just got 13 recommandations for his witty comment ;-) ,-) ;-). To the best of my knowledge there are just a few dozens in America who think likewise. Are they prejudiced and convinced the French are anti American by virtue of their morality?

When asked why, their 'explanation' probably would have something to do with French education, myths, and a systematic bias in the representation of America and Americans. The French are simply assumed to put some negative spin in just about everything related to America.

What is odd however is that millions of young French have been exposed to a very positive image of America and Americans ever since the end of WWII through the comic strips they were avidly reading. 

The 5 most famous ones are Buck Danny, Lucky Luke, les Tuniques bleues, Jerry Spring, Blueberry and Steve Warson.

- Buck Danny, started in 1947, was the most pro-American strip you could think of, to the point it would have made George Washington’s mother embarrassed! The series started just after the end of WWII with a recollection of the Pacific war and portrayed 3 heroic American pilots. Staunchly anti-communist, the strip enthralled literally millions of youngsters in the 50s and 60s. Very realistic and incredibly accurately documented, Buck Danny was THE American hero.

- Lucky Luke was another breed of American figure (1948). Non-realistic as opposed to Buck Danny, Lucky Luke the Cowboy has had over 50 instalments with many made into animated movies. Still a hit with French teenagers, Lucky Luke is the cool, good natured American guy, the one everybody wants to be friend with.

- Les Tuniques bleues (”The Blue Tunics”) was started at the end of the 60s. Set during the Civil War, the series recount the adventures of two rightful and generous American soldiers, depicted in a sympathetic and faithful light and dedicated to the defence of the good old Stars’n Stripes.

- Jerry Spring, another hero of the late XIXth century, probably was the most elaborate of these characters, with a moral dimension that made him the most human of all of them. Modest, Jerry Spring deals with situations where morality is the key issue and fights both good and bad guys. More than 20 albums of his adventures were published between 1954 and 1970. The drawings were sheer masterpieces!

- Lieutenant Blueberry was created in 1963 by the same author as The Adventures of Buck Danny. But times having changed, Blueberry is a former soldier who’s been mistreated by the army and acts on his own. He reflects the disenchantment that the western, as a Hollywood genre, went through in the 60s. Blueberry knows failure, doubt and sometimes edges on despair. Another very human figure from America.

So, with millions of French having been exposed in their youth to such a positive spin about America and the Americans, and with these heroes still being very popular, is it really likely that the French would be so rabidly anti-American? And has any American teenager ever had the opportunity to read any comic strip with such a positive view of the French? The only one I know of is Pepe le Pew, a stinking womanizer… Talk of a positive image here.

(all of these strips originated from Belgium but France being a much bigger market, this is where they went to stardom) 

16 commentaires:

Ned Ludd a dit…

"American education", at least at the primary and secondary level is an oxymoron today.

Flocon a dit…

This opinion I often read in the American MSM but I really don't know how it compares with Europe in general and France in particular.

Les comparaisons internationales are very positive for Finland an some Asian countries though.

Anijo a dit…

Well zoolog is not a Franchophile and it shows. Fair to say he just got 23 recommendations for his comment.

On many levels, one can't compare France's (or Germany's or Japan's) economy to the US. 1)France has a solid, working middle-class entrepreneurship being that they produce and consume quality products; we don't anymore but have a few powerful and large corporations where the dispersion of wealth is minor. 2)People do not typically buy on credit, but what they can afford in the near-term, so they did not lose their homes etc. 3) Corporate and civil crime is not embedded in their culture, thus they can focus on productivity and not protection against crime. In a nut-shell, they are workers (still with plenty of vacation), while we are illusionists--even the market can't fake it any longer

Anijo a dit…

As you know, Flocon, there are many Americans who are anti French. There are also many French who are anti American.

Some people spend too much time and negative energy focusing on how much they don't like this or that culture of a particular country.

And when these kind of people aren't spending their time thinking about how they don't like a particular country, they're spending said time bitching about those with opposing political views. And if it isn't that, they spend their time bitching about those with differing religious views. And if it isn't any of those reasons, they'll find something or other to bitch about, somebody, anybody, just to satisfy the need to bitch about something.

I never have thought much about the differences between different countries as I have found cool people and assholes spread fairly evenly across the world. I used to get all caught up in going after Republicans and Christians. But those days are behind me.

These days, I have discovered that I share some political views with Republicans and some political views with Democrats, although clearly I'm more left wing. What I enjoy is discussing politics with someone who remains polite and doesn't commence with referring to those with opposing views as Nazis or pinko commie bastards or whatever

I do not believe in a god, but I do not find Christians to be comical or unreasonable, as I have come to understand why such beliefs might be held. Thoughtful Christians are some of the kindest and most reasonable people I've ever met: EYGH and SemperFi, for example. DAD (my friend from the Corrèze) is a Catholic.

Anyway, all of this to say that I avoid spending my mental energy going into the mental space where people such as Al Martino would lead me. This type of over-the-top blogging and bitching on the interwebs is tiresome.

Flocon, if I were to ever tell you all of the horrible negative experiences I've had in France, you would surely blush. However, I have also had so many wonderful experiences in France and clearly the good experiences outweight the bad experiences. But I don't waste my mental energy focusing on negativity.

Different people have different ways of dealing with adversity. For example, take two people driving home from work, or from the store, taking the exact same route. (We'll pretend that they're neighbors for the sake of this example). On the way home they encounter hundreds of polite drivers. However, along the way, they also encounter a handful awful drivers.

James arrives at his house frustrated with all of those crazy stupid dumbass drivers! Argh! James gets out of his car and wonders why there are so many awful people and incompetent drivers in this bohunk town, and dreams of the day that he can move to another town.

Tony arrives at his house having already forgotten about that handful of drivers and instead thinks to himself that the majority of people are damned good drivers, and remembers what a pleasant drive home he had. And then after getting out of his car, Tony pauses to smell the roses before entering his house.

Sometimes I am more like James, but I do my best these days to be more like Tony.

Anijo a dit…

I like this article by Zachary Karabell.

So this is what we’ve come to: a world where a brief article in a British tabloid citing unsourced worries about a French bank can precipitate a global equity sell-off and a wave of panic. And more to the point, a world where the heated, emphatic, and unequivocal refutations of those worries by regulators, ratings agencies, and the bank’s CEO are dismissed as less credible and less trustworthy than a newspaper with a long and dishonorable history of running stories later shown to be without a scintilla of truth.


Being skeptical is healthy; being cynical, not so much. And the only way to judge the present is on the present, not on false application of the lessons of the past, and not on irrational fears of what the future might hold.

Flocon a dit…


I should have added a huge smile, wink ;-), laugh :-)), "smile, smile", "wink, wink" emoticone to the introduction of the post since I just came accross the comment the other day and it had me smiling.

The whole post is a light hearted one as everyone can see: No politics, no 'philosophical' pipedreams et all.

Just a first short answer to set your mind easy, I certainly didn't want to engage in a cultural whatever duel.

It's just that I'm leaving tomorrow for a couple of weeks and I had this old post in the drawer but since I feel unable to compose interesting and challenging posts these days I resort to my data bank and use a recent comment as a way to introduce an old post.

I see you've posted your longest comment ever on this blog and I have to adress it now. But first I must read it... ;-)

Don't worry petite Américaine and please don't take these issues so seriously, we're ony in it for the fun :-)))

Anijo a dit…

But first I must read it... ;-)


Here I go on this long rant and you were just joking. I feel rather foolish now...

Anijo a dit…

From now on you can call me Emily Litella.

Emily Litella a dit…

What is all this fuss I hear about the Supreme Court’s decision on a DEAF penalty?! It’s terrible!! Deaf people have enough problems as it is! I know I myself occasionally have difficulty with my hearing, but that doesn’t mean I want to be punished for it! And what do they do to them, anyway? Shout nasty things at them behind their back? You mark my words: If we start punishing deaf people, they’ll get back at us! They’ll close their eyes when we talk to them and they won’t be able to see a thing we’re saying!! I say, instead of making deafness a penalty, we ought to start doing NICE things for them.

Flocon a dit…

And to think it was only when you posted your comment Anijo! I dare not imagine how you feel when it's ;-)

Actually this post is one of the very first I wrote for SF nearly 6 years ago

No, wait, it's here.

I don't think you already participated to SF's blog as did not Ned who arrived the following year if my memory serves me well.

But ZapPow was there and he was having some fun...

Actually, this post couldn't really interest Americans since not a single one of them knew those comics.

Not even Mark (here answering to Zombie and here the Mark we admired and appreciated).

If you have some proclivity to nostalgia, you'll read the comments by l'Amerloque, EYGH etc. Oh well... (sigh, sigh).


"those days are behind me".

Same here. Maybe does this post about French comics still retain some flavour of past days when the exchanges were sometime heated over the pond but for me too these days belong to the past.

My little blog doesn't especially focus on Franco-American relations but is more inclined to make some connections between Buster Keaton and Spinoza, Schopenhauer and Indian music or "how American lesbians perverted hitherto honest and decent French women", (remember that one?).

No bad feelings here between the regulars, my goal is to entertain each and everyone who's kind enough to stop by and read my often bizarre posts, not to make cultural comparisons kind of "mine is bigger than yours". ;-)

This comics characters are very famous in Europe, not only in France but also in Germany, Poland, Spain etc. Steven Spielberg's next film will tell the adventures of Tintin that you've probably heard of before and who's been a trademark of European culture for over 50 years now.

Back to the post : It was intended in a special context when I wrote it, eg. to answer to the regular lines that I was so used to read about how the French are raised in anti Americanism from their early days etc. Now, we were'nt, quite the opposite.

ZapPow a dit…

I had forgotten how totally that kind of American I am. And, as a 100% TBA (True Blood American), I have to warn you, Snowflake (looking at you with utter scorn), that from now on, you'll have to behave, and stop your batrachian criticism of America, The Land Of The Free & Braves, you damned Froggy, or I'll invade you, or something.

Ned Ludd a dit…

As to comics, I sometimes send a volume of "Les Bidochons" to American friends who know French. I tell them that these books helped me learn French and learn about the French. Thank you Binet.


Anijo a dit…

I had forgotten how American that I am. I took that rather silly test (and answered the questions seriously as best I could) and ended up with a score telling me that I was 48% American.

And being an actual true-blooded American, (not as cool and hip as ZapPow, Flocon, and Ned, but of course), I understand how risible that SemperFi and I must come across to the rest of you, the two of us being nothing more than those two silly clowns from "The Land the Free" and the "Home of the brave".

Flocon a dit…

Hi there!

I have acess to the Internet but the connection isn't too reliable so I prefer not to post anything fear it disappears in the ether like it has happened before!


Ned, I knew I was wrong when I wrote "You were seing me through" or something akin. Actually you corrected me some weeks ago but as you write, there's some subtility in the matter and subtility is where I'm very bad indeed!

Pressé, je n'ai pas pris le temps de retrouver ton commentaire.

Je crois qu'il faut que je me souvienne de 2 chansons de McCartney :

"I'm looking through you"


"Teddy Boy" (Mamma's gonna see you through)


Re les Bidochons. Il y a une famille qui s'appelle Bidochons (really) et la fille de cette famille a porté plainte il y a 10? 20 ans? contre Binet pour avoir utilisé ce nom qui évodemment has everybody laughing as soon as she's asked her name.

She lost in court but it appeared that the girl's father was un moniteur de colonie de vacances when Binet was a teenager and he remembered the name of his moniteur (engl : ?) when he decided to make fun of the ordinary stupidity of basic Frenchmen.

Whatever Binet said that it was unintentional etc., fact remains he didn't invent this name wich is the epitonym of "pauvre con" in France (for Anijo).

I wouldn't have expected les Bidochons to be a learning tool for French though... It could have been Tintin par exemple.

As regards the JMJ, everybody is very glad and happy and they all wish you the best Ned (some even send you kisses!).

(They nearly caught me after they suspected a young man could strike a terrorist attack but I was able to take the French leave before they got hold on me).

- Argg! the connection has just been interrupted and since i'm typing on a netbook I have to register again in order to retrieve my own password (which I don't remember) to the blog.

Flocon a dit…

Hello Anijo!

I can't spend too much time on the Internet with my credit for 1 Go so I didn't go and see where you took the test on SF.

I suspect I didn't take said test ;-) but I do remember another test you and Ned took on SF some three years ago (was it four years?) related to everybody's ability in French and both of you had excellent results, particularly Ned I must say.

And I also must say that I miserably failed to this test and my results were below yours.

En particulier il y avait un mot composé (genre chausse-trape or something) au pluriel and Ned passed the test where I didn't!

Un netbook c'est mieux que rien but it really isn't comfortable. The size of the screen in particular!

Fare well Babe in the desert ;-)

Flocon a dit…

Salut ZapPow!

Là je suis en train d'envoyer des cartes postales de "vacances" :-)) alors je ne t'oublie pas!!!

Je me creuse les méninges pour trouver des idées de billets qui soient à la hauteur de tes encouragements... C'est dur!


[ça c'était M.E :-)) ]