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Monday, July 18, 2011

Why Are the French So Rude to Americans?

While in Paris recently, I found myself briefly detained by authorities on suspicion of radicalism. What was the subversive behavior that I engaged in that raised the ire of the French?

I was appearing on a French television program – Le Noveau Journal – when at the end of the discussion I mentioned that viewers were welcome to get updated information on me from my Facebook page or my Twitter feed.

As it turns out that the French have recently banned the mention of both Facebook and Twitter by their broadcasters. While technically there was nothing in the rules about my talking about the websites, apparently, certain members of the French government thought that I had intentionally done so as a form of protest.

I had to explain to them that the rule was so idiotic that it had actually escaped my attention prior to my visit…and I have a blog devoted to idiotic behavior. In retrospect, I suppose that I did see a mention of it as I was perusing my normal sources for news, but I guess I just assumed that it was a post by The Onion.

I mean, how can a country tell its broadcasters that they can’t mention the names of social media outlets? Why would anyone even bother to do such a thing?

The explanation, in so much as there is one, is that the French have decided that talking about Facebook and Twitter is essentially providing free advertising to those companies. In their socialist view, that’s unfair to the other social networking businesses out there just trying to earn a euro. The fact that no one has the faintest ideas who the companies that they’re trying to protect are is seemingly irrelevant. Working on their premise, I’m assuming that you also can’t discuss Coca-Cola, McDonald’s or Starbucks.

There’s a possibility that a civilized country has done something more asinine, but I’m hard pressed to come up with something. Imagine if the United States tried to ban the use of any commercial name on the airwaves. How would you even attempt to enforce that?  Even if we wanted to take up the banner of Facebook and Twitter as a country, we’d be hard-pressed to come up with a one-to-one scenario to get even with the French.

1) We could stop our TV and radio talents from saying the word Perrier, but who would even notice? 

2) Certain circles might profess to love French wine, but it’s not like we have a ton of shows devoted to discussing it  Maybe it would put a crimp in the Food Network’s style, but that would be it. 

You can’t really do anything about:

3) French bread,

4) French fries or

5) French toast, since that’s just what we call that stuff for different odd reasons and doesn’t really have much to do with the real country.

The problem is that French culture isn’t really that relevant and it’s hard to tell when the last time that it actually was. Perhaps they believe that by limiting the talk of more American cultural exports, that it will somehow help to diminish the impact of that amongst their populace.

While I’m offended intellectually by the whole affair, I must say that the people detaining me were very nice. Served me a nice brie and a marvelous Alsace pinot blanc. Of course, that’s partially because I speak French. By comparison, I had to save one of my American brothers as they were stuffing his mouth full of French fries in an effort to recreate the “Super Size Me” movie poster.

Ah, vive la betise.


We Should Hang The Guys Who Called:
Fried Potato Chip FRENCH FRIES
Long Bread French Bread
*** Kiss French Kiss

There are two other possible explainations to answer the title question
1. Well, they're not, everyone is rude to the Americans, or
2. They're not, the French are that rude to everyone.

Bizarre new French laws.

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