Thursday, May 14, 2009

English vs. French (the people, not the language)

I recently perused an article on entitled "Why Do the English Hate the French?" The article struck me as rather stereotypical, but then I thought more about the fact that stereotypes are usually why one group of people hate another group of people. I visited France many moons ago, and I found most of the points in the article relatively unfounded. Here are my thoughts, point for point.

Because they're always fighting: I can't speak to this point specifically, except to say that I did not get in one barfight during my time en Provence. I can't argue with the historical accuracy of the wars, but couldn't one make the argument that the English were just as responsible for all of that fighting? I think they both should have had a time-out in their respective corners for a few centuries.

Because the French are rude: I did not find the French to be any more or less rude than any other culture I've encountered (granted, in my limited, middle-American experience). In fact, most of the people were downright congenial (thanks for playing Justin Timberlake in your car to make us feel at home, Jacque, but I really would have preferred some popular French station, you know, just because I was riding around in France). I don't count aloofness to be a symptom of rudeness, it's far more cultural than personality-based.

Because they're food snobs: This one may have a bit of credence, but seriously, look who they are going up against. I'm pretty sure England doesn't find food appealing unless it's deep fried and accompanied by a stout lager. The tastes of the French are just more refined. For example, even the simple food staple pizza was the absolute best that I have ever had in my entire life, no hyperbole. And I have a number of people to back me up on this. I still dream about that pizza. And you can never beat a crê can be an entree AND a dessert, people! It's the perfect food!

Because they're wine snobs: What's the point of being a food snob if you don't have the best wine to accompany the dishes? This just makes logical sense.

Because they're fashion snobs: What's wrong with knowing how to dress? England is just a frumpy country. If you were as beautiful as a Parisian, wouldn't you dress to the nines, too?

Because French women "don't get fat": This stereotype is, if not completely, at least partially true. But, instead of the reasons that the article posits, I argue that they don't get fat because they smoke for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and walk everywhere. In my short five weeks I became a toned animal from all of that damn walking. We were even instructed to practice walking before we arrived. If you have to practice something like that, you know you're going to be in good shape.

Because the French hate the English, too: This may be true, or it may just be another widely accepted fact that isn't actually based in any truth. As an American, admittedly not an Englishman, but a speaker of English nonetheless, I felt very little, if any, animosity. I'm sure everything about me screamed "tourist," but I did not feel singled out. The only open hatred I saw was some badly misspelled graffiti that said something to the effect of "Go home, you American fuckers." But that's pretty much standard in any culture. Someone's always gotta be hating on someone else.


Lester said...

We need to go back to Aix and get some pizza yo. When's good for you?

KittyMarie said...

HAHA I'm game. How about tomorrow? I'll catch the next flight out and meet you at Capri:)