Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Top 5 Reasons we should respect the French.

I noticed that my blog has a surprising amount of French readership, It's actually in spitting distance of 1000 views. Which I think is pretty cool, but as an American I have heard a lot of cracks on the French as a whole. And why? How many Americans (many of whom have not left the country) can have such an opinion of people that they have gleaned most of their information about from rumor, conjecture, and Pepe Le Pew cartoons. The big joke is about France being invaded during the 2nd world war. Really? The fact that they were invaded was mostly about location had Britain or the USA had been geographically easier to attack. but with the English channel, and the Atlantic ocean being a bit of an impediment, France was simply a more convenient target for the German war machine. Let's stop using geography to validate arguments of supposed cowardice okay? As for refusing to fight in the current war, this was smart, not cowardly. The invasion of Iraq cost the US far too much for too little, I wouldn't have voted to go to war, and neither would have congress if they had to go into the actual combat zones. Yet we hear the stupid jokes again and again, about a culture we as a people no very little about. So here is 5 things that are very cool about the French that we should respect our French brothers and sisters for.

5- Religion (or lack there of!) So while most of the world lets the "Church" of Scientology opperate like any other church, including enjoying tax exempt status here in the states, in France L Ron Hubbards pet money making cult has been labeled just that a dangerous cult. In fact, Hubbard was tried in absentia and fined 35,000 french franks and a 4 year prison sentence. And as I for one have little to no respect for the pseudo religion that is scientology, I think this is awesome. Scientology has been exposed many times, from Harlan Ellison's talks about the origins of his sci-fi writer colleague talking about the money involved in a religion, to South Park's episode about the creation myth of Scientology. Incidentally, The written origins of Scientology (the Xenu story) are explained by the church that you must be at least a certain level of "clear" before hearing the story or it would kill you to comprehend. yet after Star Wars' release Hubbard shopped a script around Hollywood called "Revolt in the Stars" which is the story of Xenu and the basis of Scientology. So why shop a script around of the story that can kill you if you are not ready to hear? There are only 2 possible options, First that Hubbard was trying to destroy a great swath of humanity with a Ring Like movie premier which makes him a cartoon super villain, or he was looking for some of that sweet sweet Star Wars money, and he is in fact, a fraud.

4- Comics Don't get me wrong America has some amazing comics from Batman and Green Lantern to books like Transmetropolitan, and Bone, Hell just look at what the Avengers grossed last year! But the interresting thing about our current love affair with comics is the way we treat the actual comics. I know many people who will excitedly go see the Avengers: Age of Ultron in the theatres first night, but will never read a single comic book, why "Those are for kids!" they will cry. citing both laziness and ignorance, as well as missing the point of what comics today. The same can be said about animation for that matter. Adults will pay top dollar to watch GI Joe, Transformers, or Green Lantern, as long as they are mostly live action and have 'splosions and celebrities. Heck the last animated GI Joe movie (Resolute) was far deeper both in plot and in adult content, than both live action GI Joe movies combined! In France, comics, or bande dessinee, as they are known are referred to as the ninth art. That's right they are considered as valid an art form as cinema, poetry, painting, music and sculpture. In fact the comic Heavy Metal, is a french import. Unlike US comics French comics are a bit more like Japanese Manga, they cover a much broader range of topics, less traditional US Superhero types, and more Stories like novellas, such as Okko, (Pictured above) who is a demon hunting ronin who's party roams the mythical island of Pajan. And yeah there are plenty of French comics that are "for kid" take Asterix for one!

But even here there is a lot of depth for a kids book. Set during the Roman Empire, Asterix is the Story of the one gaul village the Empire could not conquer. This is mostly due to a magic potion that their druid Getafix concocts that gives the villagers Superhuman strength. Appearing in Pilote in 1959 Asterix as a comic icon is second to the Disney pantheon of known characters world wide. and has spawned several movies (live action and animated) and yet is a virtual unknown here in the states.

3-Movies I have a degree in film (A BA to be precise)  and I will say yeah there are some boring pretentious French films, just like there are some boring pretentious German films, some boring pretentious British films and of course some boring pretentious American films. But this is no reason to discount French cinema as a whole. John Paul Juenet's films such as Delicatessen City of Lost Children are trippy and insanely awesome films, Juenet is also the director behind Alien: Resurection, which was written by Joss Wheadon, and features a prototype version of the crew of the Serenity in the crew of the Betty, this alone is a reason to give the film a second look. That is to say nothing of films by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, the Professional) or Christophe Ganz (Brotherhood of the Wolf) Also The likes of George Lucas, Francis Ford Copella and Brian Depalma, are often referred to as the American new wave, taking their inspiration and film making style from the French new wave. So yeah the French help George Lucas become inspired to make Star Wars, not bad eh?

2- Games While the miniatures gamer in me would like to rant on about AT-43, and Confrontation, which is still one of my all time favorite fantasy miniatures games, video games are being developed pretty heavily in france from classics like Out of This World, and Flashback, to newer titles such as Heavy Rain, and Bioshock 2. Atari currently is been purchased by a french outfit and therea re several other big studios in France making games, including Ubisoft, and Titus. Hey a good game is a work of art and the French are known for their artistry.

1-Governmental Courage Yeah, I am about to get pretty political here. After the attack on 9-11, France became a dirty word especially among those who supported George W Bush. Citing cowardice in WWII, and now in coming to our aid against Iraq, which was not the perpetrators of the attack on the world trade center. But this did not stop small minded folk from jumping the gun, and on changing french fries to "freedom fries", or even insisting that Kerry would make a lousy president because he "looks French" but seriously It takes guts to stand up to an ally and tell them you want no part of their cockamamie schemes. This war has hurt our economy as a whole, and we still have people fighting and occupying the area some 14 years after the attack. Quite frankly as a country we would have done better to focus on the real enemy and not throw stupid tantrums because not all of our allies will join in the hunt in the wrong place. Sorry folks, courage is more than pulling a gun, and name calling is simply arrogant and ignorant of us.

Look every country has it's jerks, it's rude people and it's problems, but I for one can't see the point in heaping all of this on perceived opinions of a country that you may not have ever been in personally.

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